“Gone Girl”

Ludicrous.

Self can’t even.

Just.

Self has no words.

In the end, self was not the only one laughing.

David Fincher, shame on you!

Self still likes Rosamund Pike, though. Did the poor thing think she was in a serious drama? Because it became pretty hard to distinguish between the cheese and the drama, by the end.  Self almost choked on her scarf, she was laughing so hard.

SPOILER ALERT

This is a teensy tiny question but self has to ask it anyway: Why, at the end, after it has been determined that poor Amy has been the victim of a sado-masochistic creep (played of course to cheesy perfection by Neil Patrick Harris), after she’s been examined in the hospital and placed in a wheelchair — why is she allowed to give a televised conference, without any attempt to clean the thick layers of blood swathing her throat? What self-respecting hospital would allow a person to walk around still caked in buckets of dried blood? Allow her, in fact, to go home in that condition? And why, after arriving home, does this alleged rape victim walk out of her car — the wheelchair only went as far as the hospital driveway, apparently — and enter her house completely unaided? She’s not just walking, either — she’s gliding. Actually, gliding. Shoulders back like a queen!  Since Amy’s just gotten the media to swallow a line about her being used and abused, seeing her walk that way is just a little bit much.

Just saying.

And another thing:  that “Fifty Shades of Gray” preview? Self adores Dakota Johnson. But the guy — self could not suppress a feeling of chagrin at the thought of how well Charlie Hunnam (of Sons of Anarchy) would have filled that suit, and how he would have looked, smoldering at Dakota Johnson from across a desk.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Foolish Things

  • As a result of dropping by the Robert Frank exhibit at the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus yesterday, self got it into her head that she would very much like to own a Leica.
  • After leaving the Robert Frank exhibit, self fully intended to go to Aquarius in Palo Alto and watch Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” But she did not.  Instead, after filling up with gas, she went home.  And today — alas! — that film is no longer showing.
  • Self hasn’t looked at her story “The Peacock.”  Not once.  Not since it was workshopped at Squaw. She has no idea what to do with that story. It just sits there, like a lump on a log. Taking up space in her computer. In her store of unfulfilled projects. She wanted it to be a memoir about her and Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying. She wanted it to be desperate and lonely, the voice of a soul lost in the Cambodian wilderness after failing to connect with the splendor that is Angkor Wat (Dear blog readers, do you know that there’s a RAFFLES HOTEL IN SIEM REAP???)
  • Self has wanted to replace the desert of the front lawn with trees — perhaps olive trees — to screen her house from the busy street. But she’s remained staring at that patch of bare, weed-choked dirt for 10 years. It sounds really lame to keep bringing up the drought.

Ugh, ugh, girl. Why can’t you just do? Why must you always be re-hashing the old, or rehearsing for the future? To what end?

How quickly you forget: just yesterday, you got word from Witness that a piece you sent them eight months ago is going to be in their Translation issue.

As for somehow missing “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gone, Girl” is showing in the Redwood City Century 20 and she heard from a friend who read the book that it’s actually pretty good. Self is not a Ben Affleck fan — seems he is pretty much a control freak with his wife, and no doubt he took care to present himself in the best possible light in this new role — but what the heck? Maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for another hard-hitting documentary yesterday, maybe she should just try and ignite a new respect for Ben Affleck? She did like “Argo” a lot. He’s not a bad director.

And if she’d managed to watch “Last Days in Vietnam” yesterday, she would have missed seeing the San Francisco Giants’ nail-biting victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. She would have missed seeing the way the two teams went head to head all the way to the 9th inning. She would have missed that sweet, game-ending homer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Addition, “The Maze Runner”

Self wanted to do a quick post about “The Maze Runner,” which she saw a few days ago (Self apparently has so much time on her hands. Everyone, please feel free to dump more work on self, if she’s got this much time to see movies, she must be bored stiff!)

The lead actor (played by Dylan O’Brien — WHO ???) reminded self a little of a young Kevin Bacon, only darker. He was pretty good.

He wasn’t built the same way, for instance, Channing is, which is another thing that self found pretty good. After all, in the dystopian universe that Hollywood is pretty sure we should expect, no one — self repeats, NO ONE — gets enough to eat.  Yup, it must be really hard to get meat on one’s bones, out there in the future (There is one overweight kid. Why is he there? So that he sticks out like a sore thumb?)

It’s an all-male universe, self got her hopes up that this would indeed be one of those rare, genre-defying movies where there is only one gender around, and it doesn’t matter, because there can still be tension.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

But it does not seem to be that kind of movie, after all.

Nevertheless, self did not get bored.

Patricia Clarkson has a magnificent bod. Better even than the bod of the young actress who gets thrown in with the boys. Self knows whereof she speaks because, somewhere near the end of the movie, Clarkson gets to throw off her white Nehru-type lab coat/jacket and reveal that she is wearing a sleeveless, white, form-fitting top and pants underneath. And there is not a trace of jiggly anywhere.

YAY for the Asian guy who emerges as the hero’s Man Friday. Because self only just realized that, the entire movie, she kept trying to predict when Asian Dude would demonstrate his utter Asian expendability and fall by the wayside. Which. Did. Not. Happen. Thank goodness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The White Guy Trapped in a Den of Iniquity: J-Hutch’s New Movie

Don’t get self wrong:  she is a huge Josh Hutcherson aka Peeta Mellark fan.  So huge that it took her a year to get to Catching Fire (the book) because she was under the impression Peeta would be off-ed.  A day after she saw the Catching Fire movie, she went to B & N and bought the book. Then she bought Mockingjay. And since it’s been a long time since she’s seen Josh Hutcherson (All of 21. Or 22. Whatever) in anything other than SNL, which he hosted November 2013, she’s been reading fan fiction about Peeta Mellark. Like crazes.

Apparently, J-Hutch has a new movie coming out that is NOT Hunger Games. In Escobar: Paradise Lost, he has to play the innocent seduced by exotica. Which is, admittedly, quite a stretch from the Hunger Games LOL.

The film also stars Benicio del Toro and a lovely, scorching hot babe who is a much better match for Hutcherson as she is way more petite than Jennifer Lawrence.

Anyhoo, the Escobar movie has been making the rounds of the Film Festival circuit, and was recently at Telluride.

The writer assigned to review the movie on Indiewire is obviously a man (even without having to read his by-line, which self just did), because only a man would need to ask such an obvious question:

At some point you may wonder why we’ve devoted an entire first paragraph to Josh Hutcherson when the title character is played by Benicio freaking del Toro . . .

Self will dispense with the movie’s plot points, as it is so obvious that the only reason to make this movie was — EXACTLY. Josh Hutcherson.

LOL!

And to provide J-Hutch with a new love interest because, ya know, J-Law has given her heart to another!

Musing over the current crop of screen hunks, self would have to say that Channing is quickly losing her interest (Those ears! Why did self never notice until now?), and Liam (Hemsworth, not Neeson, Neeson still totally rocks) just never did it for her, and Loki is fine but damn could they hurry up with another movie, and she was never into Ben Affleck, not even after Good Will Hunting, and Bourne was for a while the epitome of hotness but now they’ve replaced Damon with Renner (albeit playing different characters in the Bourne universe) and self still can’t get over the sense of betrayal, not to mention the fact that Josh is just so cute, especially in hijacked Peeta mode. Let’s just say self can understand 100% why Katniss, with Gale standing right by her side, completely loses it when she sees Peeta’s face projected on a large screen in the District 13 cafeteria — self means that it makes complete rational sense, and she thinks she’ll get a big kick out of Josh trying to evade Benicio del Toro. Because Benicio del Toro. Man. It’s enough to give self all sorts of FEELZ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“A Walk Among the Tombstones”

This is something self just realized today, after watching “A Walk Among the Tombstones” — she likes Liam Neeson in action mode, she thinks it’s good he’s mostly in action mode these days, she just doesn’t like him as much in drama, even when he was in that Paul Haggis movie with Olivia Wilde earlier this year (“Third Person”), and she likes Liam’s action turn in “A Walk Among the Tombstones” better than Denzel’s in “The Equalizer.”

In fact, self would go as far as saying she thought the script of “A Walk Among the Tombstones” was a pretty smart script.  Even if just because it doesn’t seek to rise above its genre, it is a good movie (although generally she cringes at all scenes involving the degradation of women. So, there. Now you know what kind of criminals the movie deals with. The worst scene occurs early on: very poetically shot with tight close-ups. Ugh. So excruciating. The camera never blinks).

The casting of this movie is very smart. At a certain point during a chase scene, we are treated to a full-body shot (from the side) of Liam Neeson running. Wow, that guy runs with such intensity, it is wonderful to behold. She’d classify Neeson’s running right up there with Owen Wilson’s shamble.

Casting her mind back to “The Equalizer,” self finds that she has already completely forgotten what the movie was about (and she saw it less than a week ago). The only scene she remembers with any clarity is the one where Denzel ushers a pack of Asian women out of a factory where they have been processing illegal contraband, but does it as if he’s a Sunday-school teacher ushering out a pack of 12-year-olds. Like he’s not just handing each woman thick wads of cash. That was a good scene.

In both movies, the viewer is never in any doubt that the hero will prevail (Though self remembers seeing “The Grey,” which was possibly the worst downer of a Liam Neeson movie self ever remembers seeing). So it’s all the more worth it if the movie has flourishes that offer a few surprises. The acting, for instance. Which was across-the-board good in “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” (All self can really remember from “The Equalizer” is Denzel’s acting. Which is pretty much a given, come on. And don’t get her wrong: a movie full of Denzel is always welcome. But that’s ALL she can remember from “The Equalizer”)

The other thing self remembers thinking while watching Neeson is that George Lucas did him no favors by casting him as Obi-wan-Kenobi. As he also did no favors for Ewan MacGregor when he cast him as the young Obi-wan. As he also did no favors for Natalie Portman when . . .  ok, you get her drift.  It is a very, very fortuitous thing for Denzel that he made no appearances in a “Star Wars” movie.

The source material for “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is impeccable: the work of Lawrence Block, whose books self has read and enjoyed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Denzel Bloody Denzel: Thoughts on “The Equalizer”

Isn’t Denzel getting too old for this kind of stuff?  Nope.  Assuredly not.  No one is too old to try becoming Charles “Il Bruto” Bronson.

Isn’t Chloe Moretz too young to be playing a hooker?  Nope. Because Jodie Foster showed the way. Next to play a hooker should be Abigail Breslin.

Was the movie theater full or not full? Self can always predict whether a movie has legs from the size of the audience of the first screening on opening weekend. The theater was 3/4 full.

Why did this movie remind her (sort of) of Training Day?  Because it had the same director, Anton Fuqua. (What a name. Self thinks it was inevitable that the boy born Anton Fuqua would turn into Movie Director Anton Fuqua)

How We Know Denzel’s Character is an Upstanding Citizen:  He never once tries to flirt with Chloe Moretz’s character. Even though she is pretty darn cute.  Instead, he talks to her about his ex-wife. And about Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Which clearly proves he is celibate. And noble. Has only the best interests of Chloe Moretz at heart when he engages her in light banter.

In addition, he helps a colleague during a hold-up — helpfully emptying her till for her and urging her to comply with the hold-upper’s demand for her ring.

When Denzel Makes His Intense Glare, we know that it is curtains for whoever is on the receiving end of said Glare.

Self only closed her eyes about four times. Not out of boredom but out of I-Can’t-Take-All-This-Gore responses.

The Hit Man in this movie was from Bourne 2. An elegant, dapper gent with a mournful countenance. It always helps when the Hit Man looks like he might have stumbled in from a GQ ad. This time, he did not have a British accent.

Note to Future Hit-Men:  Never pick on someone who works at Home Depot or places similar. Just think of the array of weapons the target will have at his/her disposal:  Hammers, all sizes; chainsaws, both battery-operated and not; screwdrivers, both electric and non-electric; nails. If the Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction had been working in a Home Depot, he wouldn’t have been so limited in his choice of revenge weapons. If the Transporter’s Jason Stathan had Home Depot instead of a limo at his disposal, he’d have been prancing down the aisles with wild abandon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Work in Progress: Inspired by the Darren Aronofsky Movie

How many readers actually saw “Noah” when it was in theaters earlier this year? The speculative fiction film version of “Noah,” the one that starred Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly? Self loved it. In fact, it’s still one of her favorite movies of the year.

Self is calling this work-in-progress “The Ark.”:

Two by two, the counting went on, day and night.

In moonlight sometimes Noah heard his wife singing.

No more than two, Noah said. One pair, that’s all we can take.

His wife began to argue with him. There must be a way, she insisted. Her eyes had that stormy look. Like lake water in spring, when the wind blows hard around.

Right now, it stands at around five pages, double-spaced (1,000 words). Happiness!

Stay tuned.

Listmania: Six Recently Bookmarked/ 12 Existing Tags

*     *     *     *

Naomi Watts *  Oliver Stone * Owen Wilson * Patrick Leigh Fermor * Paul Theroux * Peter Sarsgaard * Pico Iyer * Rebecca West * Ruth Rendell * Sarah Waters * Siquijor * Tom Hiddleston

The Year 2014 in Movies (Thus Far)

Liam Neeson was Non-Stop (and Lupita Nyong’o was in a bit part, playing a flight attendant)

Olivia Wilde stunned in Third Person.

Darren Aronofsky gave us a futuristic Noah (and inspired self to write a short story)

X-Men: Days of Future Past gave us J-Law, MacAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman and a sardonic sprite named Evan Peters, as well as much angst and heartbreak.  The series will never be the same.

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo tied us up in knots in Begin Again.

Jon Favreau showed that he can channel James Gandolfini — heck, better even than James Gandolfini himself — in Chef.

Patricia Arquette stunned Read the rest of this entry »

“Lucy”: Feminine Degradation

Something about self’s mood today — she feels extremely argumentative.  Ornery.  So, take the following with a grain of salt, dear blog readers.

Self likes Luc Besson.

She really does.

She can never forget that Besson gave us the glorious Annie Parillaud in “La Femme Nikita.”

And Scarjo is one phenomenal actress.

And beautiful, too.

But “Lucy” is just one more in that long line of sub-genres that are little more than titillating flirtations with feminine degradation.

Like what happened to Noomi Rapace in “Prometheus”?  You will like “Lucy.”

Like how the “Kill Bill” movies are one long revenge fantasy enacted by statuesque Uma Thurman?

You might like “Lucy” (though Besson and Tarantino are light years apart — that is, in terms of cinematic wit)

And what was that movie Kathryn Bigelow did with Ralph Fiennes, “Strange Days,” the one where you put on these special glasses, and while you’re raping a woman you can experience HER fear, which heightens your pleasure?  The one that had Juliette Lewis’s skateboarding Goth waif bonding with pervert played by (typecast) Tom Sizemore?

Ugh.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

One of the most painful scenes in “Lucy” was the one where Scarjo, having been kicked so many times in the stomach, starts crawling up the walls (literally).  That was creepy and grotesque, as if science fiction was melding with Kafka.  Might Scarjo actually turn into a bug?  At one point, she grabs her long chain (she is chained to the wall) and runs full tilt — into, presumably, a wall.  But mercifully, we are not actually treated to the glorious sight of a beautiful woman’s face slamming against stone.  Mercifully, there is a cut right here.  Next time we see Scarjo, she appears quite composed, with no external disfigurement other than a cut lip.

???##!!!

There is something self likes about “Lucy,” though.

Scarjo acquires a craggy-faced sidekick, a French investigator/cop(?) called del Rio.  Now, that guy, though not conventionally handsome, is actually quite a find.

Not to mention, he is an excellent straight man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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