Selma Blair, Beautiful

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Went to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party! YES! Look at that gown — beautiful and ethereal. Who was the designer?

This actress is so beautiful and so fierce.

She told Vanity Fair that she realized, finally, that what she really wanted to do was to act. “But I don’t know if it’s too late.”

SELMA, YOU CAN ACT.

Stay tuned.

Frances McDormand: Force of Nature

To celebrate self’s return to the United States of America (not a single question from the Immigration Officer, though he did take his time looking over each and every page of her passport), self watched a movie: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The movie is sometimes too precious by half (despite the prolific profanity — she can’t believe she just used onomatopeia), but the performances are top-notch.

Frances McDormand: Her facial expressions alone, that unflinching moral compass, that steely isolation. Because self is so used to Twitter, she will not finish the sentence.

Sam Rockwell made her hate and pity his character in the space of two hours #pointsSam

Peter Dinklage makes a nice, underplayed cameo. (He seems only to get more attractive with each passing year, don’t ask)

Also, more nice, understated acting from Clarke Jones.

SPOILER ALERT

Two pieces of amazing casting: Lucas Hedges playing Frances McDormand’s depressed son, Robbie (who actually makes you see his depression, even with just a look) and Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby, the man who manages the billboard business. The most affecting scene in the movie, in self’s humble opinion, involved Caleb Landry Jones. Self is referring to the scene that takes place in a hospital.

That scene is actually the crux of the change in Sam Rockwell’s character, and therefore the crux of the whole movie. Anyone else but Caleb Landry Jones in that part, self thinks could not have sold it. Kudos, Caleb Landry Jones.

And of course, the face. The face of Frances McDormand. That is all.

Tomorrow, I, Tonya because self likes Margot Robbie and her ambition and determination to be everything: not just a hot Australian actress but an amazing Australian actress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“American Sniper”

Just saw American Sniper.

You know what? Just go ahead and nominate everybody: Bradley, Clint, even Sienna. Particularly Sienna. Honest, self did not recognize her at all. In the movie she’s thin and colt-ish and might even be a stand-in for Michelle Monaghan. It’s the best self has ever seen her.

SPOILER ALERT!

Oh Clint. She hates your movies generally. They’ve been mostly “message” movies, in the past decade. This one was good, though. She’s so glad the movie included the manner of Kyle’s eventual demise. Mother of all ironies.

Self’s favorite line in the movie was uttered by a bit actor (The same tall dude who’s a colleague of Simon Baker in The Mentalist, the one who’s having a relationship with the sexy redhead. For the life of her, self can’t remember his name). Here’s the line (There is profanity — ha!)

Right side. Damn. Legend. FUCK.

That’s because Kyle just took out an enemy sniper and gave away the SEAL’s position, and the back-up units are still 20 minutes away. Can you imagine if the commander had instead said something like:

You gave away our position, meathead!

or

You’re going to be court-martialed for this! I don’t care if you’re a so-called ‘legend’.

or

You went against a direct order! You think you have all the answers?

And who is that guy who plays a buddy of Kyle’s in the SEAL unit? With his helmet on, he’s a dead ringer for a young Peter Sarsgaard. With his helmet off, not so much. But self loved his insouciant affect.

And Bradley. What can self say? He deserved that Oscar nomination, man! Self was skeptical when it was first announced he’d be playing the lead role, but — that focus! That intensity! That reluctance to “emote”!

She doesn’t have a TV in Mendocino. Alas, she wishes she could camp out in someone’s living room for the night.

BTW, self caught the preview for Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy, Theron, Hoult. Oh, self can hardly wait.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

December Means: Musing About Oscar Nominations

Boyhood will be nominated for Best Picture. Duh.

  • Ethan Hawke should be nominated for Best Actor.
  • Self wants Mockingjay, Part 1 to be nominated for something. But fat chance J-Law will get another nomination. Although self would be very much in favor of such a nomination. But J-Law is already too rich. So the Academy will think it’s done its duty by her and turn its attention to some other up-and-coming. BTW, J-Law, self will not fault you if you happen to fall again while traversing the Oscars Red Carpet. It’s OK! Self still thinks you’re adorable. And she knows — knows — you’re not tripping up on purpose. Because, you know what? Self trips up all the time! Once she even fell down a whole flight of stairs. Another time she landed on her backside when entering a friends’s sunken living room. Simply because she hadn’t expected the living room to be — you know — sunken. Who does that? Why play such tricks on people? The home, BTW, was in Union City.
  • Self liked The Theory of Everything — Eddie Redmayne will be nominated for Best Actor.
  • Just saw Wild today. Laura Dern, it’s all about Laura Dern. Nominate her for Best Supporting Actress, puh-leaze! (Self so dislikes the opening scene when — Should she put in a Spoiler Alert? Nah. — Reese Witherspoon, who plays Cheryl Strayed, pulls off her toenails, then loses one boot down a chasm. Self did take note of the fact that Witherspoon’s gams are excellent! But what was with all the heavy breathing — like the audio for a porn movie. Not that self has any experience watching porn movies. She’s just saying. Also, judging from the movie, the Pacific Coast Trail is lined with male pervs. Ladies, before you get inspired to follow in Strayed’s footsteps, take a martial arts class. And don’t forget to pack the Mace. And, still also, how proactive of Strayed to take 20 condoms along on her hike. Truly forward-thinking! She is one smart lady.)
  • This time last year it was all Lupita Nyong’o. Now, there is absolutely zero mention of Lupita Nyong’o. Maybe next year? What will she wear next on the Red Carpet? Dying, absolutely dying to know.

And this is about as far as self wants to stick her neck out. So, goodnight.

 

 

Home Again (post-AWP/2014)

Back home, self means.

Thank goodness it’s been raining, so she doesn’t have to worry about catch-up watering.

She pores over her AWP goodies, reluctant to put any of them away.

She watched bits of the Oscars yesterday, and was surprised at how subdued J-Law seemed.  Almost, tired.  Her eyes didn’t have last year’s sparkle.  She looked thin and elegant, but — Good Lord, self never thought there’d come a day when she’d welcome Miley Cyrus’s stubborn commitment to hi-jinks.

Help help help!  What has happened to that Funny Girl of yester-year?  Nicholas Hoult was by her side, looking neither happy nor unhappy.  Are these two really getting married?

Today, self does her usual thing:  Costco.  Laundry.  Scanning her e-mail for rejections.

She inadvertently let her car registration lapse, and it’s a smog test year, boo.

Perhaps now she can finally focus on finishing Divergent. She bought her copy months ago.

The heroine is named Beatrice (which is a nice name, though not as unique as Katniss).  She is still deep in the nest of her Abnegation family.  There is a really intriguing passage on p. 37 (end of Chapter 4):

I peer into his room and see an unmade bed and a stack of books on his desk.  He closes the door.  I wish I could tell him that we’re going through the same thing.  I wish I could speak to him like I want to instead of like I’m supposed to.  But the idea of admitting that I need help is too much to bear, so I turn away.

I walk into my room, and when I close my door behind me, I realize that the decision might be simple.  It will require a great act of selflessness to choose Abnegation, or a great act of courage to choose Dauntless, and maybe just choosing one over the other will prove that I belong.

Hmmm, that’s truly excellent writing.  It continues excellent through Chapter 5, when self has to stop to greet The Man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The New Yorker Remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman (Feb. 17 & 24, 2014 Issue)

Anthony Lane’s piece on Philip Seymour Hoffman is in the current issue (Feb. 17 & 24, 2014) of The New Yorker.  Below, a few excerpts:

Leading man, character actor, supporting player:  really, who gives a damn?  Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.  That is why the distinction between Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, at the Academy Awards, grows ever more ludicrous — essential, of course, to the smooth structure of the night, but untrue, Read the rest of this entry »

Mondays: Quote of the Day (3 February 2014)

Self just can’t get over having to type year “2014.” It feels momentous because of Philip Seymour-Hoffman.

By sheer coincidence, the story self has been reading in The New Yorker of 20 January 2014, by Akhil Sharma, begins this way:

As far back as I can remember, my parents have bothered each other.  In India, we lived in two concrete rooms on the roof of a house.  The bathroom stood separate from the living quarters.  The sink was attached to one of the exterior walls.  Each night, my father would stand before the sink, the sky above him full of stars, and brush his teeth until his gums bled.  Then he would spit the blood into the sink and turn to my mother and say, “Death, Shuba, death.”

“Yes, yes, beat drums,” my mother said once.  “Tell the newspapers, too.  Make sure everyone knows this thing you have discovered.”  Like many people of her generation, those born before Independence, my mother viewed gloom as unpatriotic.

The title of the story is “A Mistake.”

Self fervently wishes that 2014 will turn out to be a good year.  She did finally do some things she’d been wanting to do for months:  she decided to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins this coming weekend, and she signed up for yoga classes (which have been extremely fun).

And while yesterday turned out to be a terrible day for Peyton Manning, it was good for California because it rained steadily (at last! Though we’ll need lots more to get through the drought).  Self and The Man caught the Oscar-Nominated Short Films (Animation) at the Aquarius, and afterwards had coffee around the corner at La Boulange.

Of the short animation films, self’s favorite was Feral, directed by Daniel Sousa.  The Man said it was “too dark,” but self liked that it was.  The one she found the most corny was Room on the Broom, an entry from the UK which featured some very heavy hitters doing voice work: Gillian Anderson, Sally Hawkins, and Simon Pegg.

Which brings us back to Philip Seymour-Hoffman.  Self found out while perusing the web, late last night, and it was terrible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Seth MacFarlane’s “Boobs” Medley

For several moments during last night’s Oscar Tele-cast, self thought she was watching a milder version of John Belushi in “Animal House.”

The laughs were pretty forced, she didn’t like that opening (“I saw Kate Winslet’s boobs, boobs, boobs.”  Sheesh!  Do you really expect women to laugh at a man in a tux singing about boobs?)

But during the second half of the tele-cast, the very heavily padded show had self gasping for more MacFarlane.  Then, she actually began to appreciate him.

She didn’t understand what Affleck meant when he Read the rest of this entry »

Tonight’s Oscar Tele-Cast — Not!

As self happened to mention in previous blog post, she is going through Oscar withdrawal symptoms.  For the first time in who-knows-how-many years, self will not be watching tonight’s awards ceremony because she is the guest at a dinner in her honor in Menlo Park.

Never mind that she’s not that enthusiastic about this year’s crop of Best Picture Nominees.  She will still “lay it on the line” for her Oscar favorites, and check back on the winners as soon as she gets home.

Caveat:  Self still hasn’t seen “The Artist.”  At this point, watching it feels awfully redundant, since it cleaned up so many “Best Actor” awards already.  She hasn’t seen “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” because it’s about 9/11, and she’d rather write her own 9/11 story instead of watching someone else’s.  She hasn’t seen “The Help” because it reminds her of herself in the Philippines:  Daughter of (Horrors!) Rich White Southern Family Stands Up for the Equality of Domestic Servants!  She lives that script, she doesn’t need to watch a movie about it.

She hasn’t seen “Moneyball” because she hasn’t liked the last three or four movies with Brad Pitt.  She hasn’t seen “The Tree of Life” for the same reason.  She hasn’t seen “War Horse” because it is Spielberg in semi-nostalgic mode.

Of the Best Movie Nominees self has seen, she favors “The Descendants” (So Bacolod.  Really)

And now to the ostensible reason for this post:  Meryl Streep.

From the 23 January 2012 issue of The New Yorker, self learns that, not too long ago, La Streep “invited a dozen of Britain’s most influential female journalists to a dinner, to be cooked by” none other than herself.  The journalists were all agog (According to the article, one of them tweeted:  “Meryl Streep is five feet 6 inches.  Does that mean flats for Islington kitchen table supper on Saturday night?”)

According to the article (written by Lauren Collins):  “In the States, The Iron Lady is a movie, but in Britain it’s a litmus test.”  In other words, Margaret Thatcher the politician is as polarizing in Britain as Sarah Palin is over here.

Thatcher was the woman who once said (quote via Mitt Romney, Jan. 6, New Hampshire):  “Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”

The movie, according to the article, portrays an “aged, doddering Thatcher” who spends all her time “watching home videos in her housecoat and drinking too much Scotch.”

The film was widely viewed in Britain (“took in more than three million dollars” —  by way of contrast, “The Queen,” starring Helen Mirren, earned “about a third as much”)

More:  “In Chesterfield, a group of former female coal workers, calling themselves the Real Iron Ladies picketed the multiplexes.”

Which brings to self’s mind where she and the husband were on Friday evening:  self had gotten tickets to Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company (If self had known how controversial this group was, she might have thought twice, but no.  Not aware of the slightest breath of scandal concerning the “Brand Israel” event, self plunked down her credit card.  When we got to the theater, we saw a few picketers.  “Watch this ballet if you support the government of Bibi Netanyahu,” intoned one woman, handing self a pamphlet.  Inside the Novellus Theater, we encountered a collection of modishly clad young ladies —  most in heavy boots, sheer black tights, short frilly skirts, and leather jackets — and some businesswomen types who were in charge of herding the audience unmolested to their seats.  That was when self learned she had plunked down the big bucks for what was only to be an hour of performance.  Even in New York, you get at least an hour and a half of dance performance for each show.  Grrrr)

And now, self finds it impossible to return to the subject of Margaret Thatcher and La Streep’s fabulous dinner for the influential British journalists (Streep greeted the guests at the door, “barefoot and flanked by a dog.”  In return, a journalist described the dinner prepared by Streep as “a student supper, but done in a much more swish way.”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Win Win” : # 41 in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s “The Year in Media” List

“Toy Story 3” is on TV. Flu symptoms are finally abating.

A few days ago, self discovered an old set of Christmas icicle lights in son’s closet. She’d forgotten there was actually a time when she used to decorate his room with Christmas lights. She took the lights out and tested them today: all the bulbs lit. She kept them on all day, lying against the window. Tonight, finally, feeling her strength returning, she got up and began hanging them. Boy, she did a terrible job. It would be better to have two people to string the strands in an even line, especially when one has no hooks and one is simply pasting with transparent postal tape, but the husband was busy. Anyway, she got the lights up, any which way, then ran outside to the sidewalk. Amazingly, the strands had arranged themselves in two perfect triangles, one in each window pane. A miracle!

This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated has “The Year in Sports Media.” #1 (out of a list of 50) was Chad Harbach’s book, The Art of Fielding. #5 was the final season of “Friday Night Lights.” #41 is a movie self saw way back in March, which she keeps forgetting to include in her “Year’s Best” lists: Win Win.

Here’s what SI has to say about the movie:

Shoestring-budget indies with March release dates don’t often end up awards-season fare, particularly those that quietly come and go, grossing less than $11 million along the way. And yet Win Win, writer-director Tom McCarthy’s likable chamber piece about humaneness, high school wrestling and marital fairplay (try selling that), remains the best sports film of 2011, an unlikely but legitimate Oscar sleeper.

Paul Giamatti is at his understated best as Mike Flaherty, a small-time New Jersey lawyer struggling to stay afloat in a lousy economy while volunteering as the coach of a losing suburban wrestling team. Mike keeps his financial worries from his wife (Amy Ryan), but they’re extracting a physical and emotional toll.

(The rest of the item contains spoilers. Nevertheless, SI commends Win Win for avoiding “the corn-fed self-righteousness and familiar tropes of, for example, The Blind Side.” Since self never saw The Blind Side, she can’t say whether this comparison is justified or not. But she liked Win Win, a lot.  Especially the performance of the young boy who plays the high school wrestler.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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