Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dreaming of Cannes: Let's Go Back to Cannes with Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling and Nicholas Winding Refn at Cannes after Refn’s Best Director Win for Drive

My husband and I will be traveling in Europe while the Cannes Film Festival is taking place. We could have arranged things so we would be in Cannes during the two week festival which runs from May 13 through May 28, except for the fact that there’s no room at the inn. And if there was a room, we couldn’t afford it. The famous fest drives room rates sky high and way out of our price range. But by the time we get to Cannes, in the last days of our month long sojourn, the red carpet will have been rolled up, the stars gone home, the hundreds of international journalists returned to their corners around the world, the glitter gone. 

We’ll keep our eyes out for stragglers, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell from The Beguiled (book by Thomas Cullinan), Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams from Wonderstruck (book by Brian Selznick). Kristen Stewart making her directorial debut. A sighting of Joaquin Phoenix is possible, the star of You Were Never Really Here (book by Jonathan Ames) will be at Cannes along with director Lynne Ramsay. Ramsay, the director of We Need To Talk About Kevin, is famously the woman who walked away from Jane’s Got a Gun a day before it was supposed to go into production.



Amazon bought the rights for You Were Never Really Here for about 3.5 million dollars. Being described as a revenge fantasy and compared to Drive, you can expect to see it on your home screen sometime later this year.

You Were Never Really Here is about a war veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who attempts to save a young girl from a sex trafficking ring but alas things go horribly wrong. 

Since it is making its debut in Cannes, presumably Joaquin Phoenix and director Lynne Ramsay will be seen on the Croisette, walking the red carpet. A heady affair for both director and actor, to have the film accepted to Cannes, especially to compete for the festival’s highest prize, the Palme D’Or.  

I wish I could be there, to see it all in person. Instead, let’s see if we can find some way to share the thrill. Oh, I know! Since You Were Never Really Here is being called a revenge fantasy akin to Drive, let’s watch Ryan Gosling and director Nicholas Refn when they took Drive to Cannes in 2011.



Addicted to Ryan Gosling (like moi) Here’s a longer version.



About the book:


A hammer was Joe's favorite weapon. He was his father's son, after all.

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. So he hides away, earning a living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

Now he's been hired to save the daughter of a New York senator, held captive at a Manhattan brothel. But he's stumbled into a dangerous web of conspiracy and he s about to pay the price.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

'A good choice for lovers of Michael Connelly, Lee Child or Vince Flynn who are interested in character-driven thrillers' Chicago Tribune

'A dark thriller full of attitude and heart. ... Ames is at his best here, creating a complex and sympathetic character and a detail-rich, believable story that is hard to forget'San Francisco Chronicle

Jonathan Ames is the author of nine books including Wake Up, Sir! (published by Pushkin Press) The Extra Man, I Love You More Than You Know and the graphic novel The Alcoholic. He also created the hit HBO comedy Bored to Death, starring Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman, as well as Blunt Talk, starring Patrick Stewart. He lives in New York.

I’ve never been to Cannes. I’m an introvert at heart, so the idea of being swept up in all the festival’s excitement is a bit too sturm und drang for me. It is actually more terrifying to me than exciting. On the other hand, I live a very ordinary—but exciting to me—life. My chances of going to the Cannes Film Festival are zero. How about you? Is that on your bucket list? Or perhaps you’ve been to Cannes and it’s all old hat to you. Tell us about it!

Connect to Dreaming of France where Paulita is in the midst of preparing for a huge trip to France. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Spectacular Now: My Take on the Movie starring Shailene Woodley #SaturdayMatinee



4/29/2017  I saw today’s #Saturday Matinee when it came out and posted my take on The Spectacular Now starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller back in August of 2013. 
Both the actors have come a long way since then. With her portrayal of Jane in the HBO series Big Little Lies, Wooley has reached a whole new audience.  She’s one of my favorite young actors, not only because my son seems to remember taking an acting class with “Shai’’ when he was ten.

The Spectacular Now is available on iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play and Amazon.com for $3 - $4. 

Here's my original review.
8/23/13: The Spectacular Now is opening at a ton of new theaters today and on 8/28; check this list to see if it's playing near you and if it is, see it. It's soooo good. 



The film is being called the best of the summer - don't miss it.
Let me be honest, I didn't read the book. I have no idea if The Spectacular Now film, adapted by 500 Days of Summer scribes Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter and directed by James Ponsoldt is anything like Tim Tharp's YA novel, let alone whether it's a good adaptation of the material. I don't have a clue. In fact I'd really like to hear from you if you have read the book and do have a clue. 

I do know that The Spectacular Now is a spectacular little movie. Spectacular is a pretty big word so that may be overstating it but it’s very, very good. Little because the film was made for a measly 2.5 million dollars and really, what’s spectacular is how much entertainment value a small budget can garner! Hollywood heavyweights like Stephen Speilberg and George Clooney (read this!) have been bemoaning the industry’s reliance on big budget tent-pole movies to fill theater seats; I'll join the chorus of voices who prefer story to spectacle and offer The Spectacular Now as evidence of its feasability.


The Spectacular Now is not a summer rom-com, though there are laughs and there is most definitely romance and sex - utterly NON-gratuitous sex, the nervous, first time variety handled delicately by Ponsoldt.  As I see it, while it is a love story, more than anything The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story. The focus is on Sutter Keely (Miles Tenner) a popular hard-partying high school senior whose slacker attitude has left him in danger of not graduating.  
The perpetually buzzed class clown, Sutter takes up with a shy, nerdy girl Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley) when his girlfriend dumps him. At first Aimee’s a pity project, a gap-filler to while away the hours instead of confronting where he is in life. As their feelings deepen, the couple gives each other strength; the pair form a pact to stand up to their mothers: Hers won’t let her go to college, she’s needed at home. His won’t give him his father’s phone number, his parents have been separated for years and Sutter, blaming his mother, longs to see his dad again. Aimee, flourishing under Sutter’s attention, is empowered finally to take action on her own behalf.  Sutter, facing reality for the first time, seems to flounder. Finding each other seems less the point than finding themselves. But perhaps that’s what love does best; helps us be our best, bravest, true selves.


Miles Teller as Sutter Keely; the guy knows how to get the party started

At 26, Miles Teller is completely convincing as an 18 year old, he's got all that surface swagger and brag down. Teller's not a typically handsome guy but his Sutter is the gregarious type, the first one in the pool, fully clothed. Sutter's big personality, not his looks, are the big attraction. 


Shailene Woodley, in polar opposition to her misbehaving wild child in The Descendants is an insecure Aimee, a graphic novel-loving geek of a girl, used to, and comfortable being ignored, so devoid of self-esteem that she can do little more than giggle with disbelief at Sutter's attentiveness. Braving the no makeup look that Woodley herself prefers, her Aimee, gobsmacked that anyone, let alone, BMOC Sutter Keely would ask her to prom, reads as real and her methods, very unshowy. 
Aimee (Shailene Woodley) sans make-up
drives a paper route to help her mom.
That's what I loved about Woodley in The Descendants - she doesn't overplay, grounded in her characters, she never acts, she just is.   Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) good-looking but scruffy, is hard to watch, so believable is he in a smallish part as the disappointing deadbeat dad. Jennifer Jason Leigh is equally authentic as Sutter's long-suffering mother. I especially liked Ponsoldt's casting of Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh in last year's The Hunger Games),a black student and athlete who takes up with Sutter's ex, played by Brie Larson. I like it because while the filmmakers don't comment on his color, clearly unimportant, they also haven't made him a stereotype. There's no gangsta rap cliches, Marcus is just another high school student desperate for a girl to 'like' him. Film and television creators MUST actively begin depicting black males in a wider range than the usual stereotypes if we're every going to overcome our societal bias. Kudos to Ponsoldt for doing so here.

The filmmakers have made it clear they don't consider The Spectacular Now a message movie; they deliberately didn't include consequences for Sutter's dangerous, drunk driving habit that weaves through the tale. According to Weber:

“The mission all along was that it was a real love story. This isn’t a movie about drinking or partying, although we wanted to be honest in our portrayal of those things. It’s not a message movie, it’s not an after school special,” Weber said
That being said, every movie has a message, intended or not. Leaving the issue of drinking and driving aside - the writers have Sutter's boss attempt some half-hearted fatherly 'If I was your father' advice but even he (Bob Odenkirk) trails off, unfinished. The nugget I came away with was that to fully embrace 'The Spectacular Now',  to truly live fully in the moment, you can't be afraid to learn from the past or to face the future. You can't get so stuck in the now that it sucks you in, debilitating you of the ability to plan, prepare and move forward. One spectacular day at a time. 


                                 
The Spectacular Now writers Michael H. Weber and partner Scott Neustadter are also the writers behind the highly anticipated The Fault in Our Stars movie based on John Green's super selling YA book about two teens dying from cancer; Woodley who fought for the role, was officially cast as Hazel Grace this past May. Shailene Woodley starts shooting at the end of this month opposite Ansel Elgort as the beloved Gus. Check out The TFiOS FiLE for more info.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Nicole Kidman: Queen of Cannes


Nicole Kidman as Queen Boadicea in 
How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Cannes is around the corner and Nicole Kidman will be hitting the Croisette big time. Kidman has a total of 4 projects screening at the French film festival which feels like it should be some sort of record. Someone check on that would you please? She’s got Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled with Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning, The Killing of a Sacred Deer (again with Farrell), an episode from season two of Top of the Lake from Australia’s legendary filmmaker Jane Campion and How to Talk to Girls at Parties—also with Elle Fanning— based on Neil Gaiman’s short story. The last one, Gaiman’s story, is where we see Nicole looking like we’ve never ever seen her before.as punk party hostess Queen Boadicea.

About the movie

An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon

You haven’t read it? Not to worry, Gaiman’s publisher has kindly put the entire story online. I’ve got it here for you to read in toto.


How to Talk to Girls at Parties




"Come on," said Vic. "It'll be great." 

"No, it won't," I said, although I'd lost this fight hours ago, and I knew it. 

"It'll be brilliant," said Vic, for the hundredth time. "Girls! Girls! Girls!" He grinned with white teeth. 

We both attended an all-boys' school in south London. While it would be a lie to say that we had no experience with girls -- Vic seemed to have had many girlfriends, while I had kissed three of my sister's friends -- it would, I think, be perfectly true to say that we both chiefly spoke to, interacted with, and only truly understood, other boys. Well, I did, anyway. It's hard to speak for someone else, and I've not seen Vic for thirty years. I'm not sure that I would know what to say to him now if I did. 

We were walking the backstreets that used to twine in a grimy maze behind East Croydon station -- a friend had told Vic about a party, and Vic was determined to go whether I liked it or not, and I didn't. But my parents were away that week at a conference, and I was Vic's guest at his house, so I was trailing along beside him. 

"It'll be the same as it always is," I said. "After an hour you'll be off somewhere snogging the prettiest girl at the party, and I'll be in the kitchen listening to somebody's mum going on about politics or poetry or something." 

"You just have to talk to them," he said. "I think it's probably that road at the end here." He gestured cheerfully, swinging the bag with the bottle in it. 

"Don't you know?" 

"Alison gave me directions and I wrote them on a bit of paper, but I left it on the hall table. S'okay. I can find it." 

"How?" Hope welled slowly up inside me. 

"We walk down the road," he said, as if speaking to an idiot child. "And we look for the party. Easy." 

I looked, but saw no party: just narrow houses with rusting cars or bikes in their concreted front gardens; and the dusty glass fronts of newsagents, which smelled of alien spices and sold everything from birthday cards and secondhand comics to the kind of magazines that were so pornographic that they were sold already sealed in plastic bags. I had been there when Vic had slipped one of those magazines beneath his sweater, but the owner caught him on the pavement outside and made him give it back. 

We reached the end of the road and turned into a narrow street of terraced houses. Everything looked very still and empty in the Summer's evening. "It's all right for you," I said. "They fancy you. You don't actually have to talk to them." It was true: one urchin grin from Vic and he could have his pick of the room. 

"Nah. S'not like that. You've just got to talk." 

The times I had kissed my sister's friends I had not spoken to them. They had been around while my sister was off doing something elsewhere, and they had drifted into my orbit, and so I had kissed them. I do not remember any talking. I did not know what to say to girls, and I told him so. 

They're just girls," said Vic. "They don't come from another planet." 

As we followed the curve of the road around, my hopes that the party would prove unfindable began to fade: a low pulsing noise, music muffled by walls and doors, could be heard from a house up ahead. It was eight in the evening, not that early if you aren't yet sixteen, and we weren't. Not quite. 

I had parents who liked to know where I was, but I don't think Vic's parents cared that much. He was the youngest of five boys. That in itself seemed magical to me: I merely had two sisters, both younger than I was, and I felt both unique and lonely. I had wanted a brother as far back as I could remember. When I turned thirteen, I stopped wishing on falling stars or first stars, but back when I did, a brother was what I had wished for. 

We went up the garden path, crazy paving leading us past a hedge and a solitary rosebush to a pebble- dashed facade. We rang the doorbell, and the door was opened by a girl. I could not have told you how old she was, which was one of the things about girls I had begun to hate: when you start out as kids you're just boys and girls, going through time at the same speed, and you're all five, or seven, or eleven, together. And then one day there's a lurch and the girls just sort of sprint off into the future ahead of you, and they know all about everything, and they have periods and breasts and makeup and God-only-knew-what-else -- for I certainly didn't. The diagrams in biology textbooks were no substitute for being, in a very real sense, young adults. And the girls of our age were. 

Vic and I weren't young adults, and I was beginning to suspect that even when I started needing to shave every day, instead of once every couple of weeks, I would still be way behind. 

The girl said, "Hello?" 

Vic said, "We're friends of Alison's." We had met Alison, all freckles and orange hair and a wicked smile, in Hamburg, on a German exchange. The exchange organizers had sent some girls with us, from a local girls' school, to balance the sexes. The girls, our age, more or less, were raucous and funny, and had more or less adult boyfriends with cars and jobs and motorbikes and -- in the case of one girl with crooked teeth and a raccoon coat, who spoke to me about it sadly at the end of a party in Hamburg, in, of course, the kitchen -- a wife and kids. 

"She isn't here," said the girl at the door. "No Alison." 

"Not to worry," said Vic, with an easy grin. "I'm Vic. This is Enn." A beat, and then the girl smiled back at him. Vic had a bottle of white wine in a plastic bag, removed from his parents' kitchen cabinet. "Where should I put this, then?" 

She stood out of the way, letting us enter. "There's a kitchen in the back," she said. "Put it on the table there, with the other bottles." She had golden, wavy hair, and she was very beautiful. The hall was dim in the twilight, but I could see that she was beautiful. 

"What's your name, then?" said Vic. 

She told him it was Stella, and he grinned his crooked white grin and told her that that had to be the prettiest name he had ever heard. Smooth bastard. And what was worse was that he said it like he meant it. 

Vic headed back to drop off the wine in the kitchen, and I looked into the front room, where the music was coming from. There were people dancing in there. Stella walked in, and she started to dance, swaying to the music all alone, and I watched her. 

This was during the early days of punk. On our own record players we would play the Adverts and the Jam, the Stranglers and the Clash and the Sex Pistols. At other people's parties you'd hear ELO or 10cc or even Roxy Music. Maybe some Bowie, if you were lucky. During the German exchange, the only LP that we had all been able to agree on was Neil Young's Harvest, and his song "Heart of Gold" had threaded through the trip like a refrain: I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold. . . . 

The music playing in that front room wasn't anything I recognized. 

It sounded a bit like a German electronic pop group called Kraftwerk, and a bit like an LP I'd been given for my last birthday, of strange sounds made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The music had a beat, though, and the half- dozen girls in that room were moving gently to it, although I only looked at Stella. She shone. 

Vic pushed past me, into the room. He was holding a can of lager. "There's booze back in the kitchen," he told me. He wandered over to Stella and he began to talk to her. I couldn't hear what they were saying over the music, but I knew that there was no room for me in that conversation. 

I didn't like beer, not back then. I went off to see if there was something I wanted to drink. On the kitchen table stood a large bottle of Coca-Cola, and I poured myself a plastic tumblerful, and I didn't dare say anything to the pair of girls who were talking in the underlit kitchen. They were animated and utterly lovely. Each of them had very black skin and glossy hair and movie star clothes, and their accents were foreign, and each of them was out of my league. 

I wandered, Coke in hand. 

The house was deeper than it looked, larger and more complex than the two- up two- down model I had imagined. The rooms were underlit -- I doubt there was a bulb of more than 40 watts in the building -- and each room I went into was inhabited: in my memory, inhabited only by girls. I did not go upstairs. 

A girl was the only occupant of the conservatory. Her hair was so fair it was white, and long, and straight, and she sat at the glass-topped table, her hands clasped together, staring at the garden outside, and the gathering dusk. She seemed wistful. 

"Do you mind if I sit here?" I asked, gesturing with my cup. She shook her head, and then followed it up with a shrug, to indicate that it was all the same to her. I sat down. 

Vic walked past the conservatory door. He was talking to Stella, but he looked in at me, sitting at the table, wrapped in shyness and awkwardness, and he opened and closed his hand in a parody of a speaking mouth. Talk. Right. 

"Are you from around here?" I asked the girl. 

She shook her head. She wore a low-cut silvery top, and I tried not to stare at the swell of her breasts. 

I said, "What's your name? I'm Enn." 

"Wain's Wain," she said, or something that sounded like it. "I'm a second." 

"That's uh. That's a different name." 

She fixed me with huge, liquid eyes. "It indicates that my progenitor was also Wain, and that I am obliged to report back to her. I may not breed." 

"Ah. Well. Bit early for that anyway, isn't it?" 

She unclasped her hands, raised them above the table, spread her fingers. "You see?" The little finger on her left hand was crooked, and it bifurcated at the top, splitting into two smaller fingertips. A minor deformity. "When I was finished a decision was needed. Would I be retained, or eliminated? I was fortunate that the decision was with me. Now, I travel, while my more perfect sisters remain at home in stasis. They were firsts. I am a second. 

Soon I must return to Wain, and tell her all I have seen. All my impressions of this place of yours." 

"I don't actually live in Croydon," I said. "I don't come from here." I wondered if she was American. I had no idea what she was talking about. 

"As you say," she agreed, "neither of us comes from here." She folded her six- fingered left hand beneath her right, as if tucking it out of sight. "I had expected it to be bigger, and cleaner, and more colorful. But still, it is a jewel." 

She yawned, covered her mouth with her right hand, only for a moment, before it was back on the table again. "I grow weary of the journeying, and I wish sometimes that it would end. On a street in Rio at Carnival, I saw them on a bridge, golden and tall and insect-eyed and winged, and elated I almost ran to greet them, before I saw that they were only people in costumes. I said to Hola Colt, 'Why do they try so hard to look like us?' and Hola Colt replied, 'Because they hate themselves, all shades of pink and brown, and so small.' It is what I experience, even me, and I am not grown. It is like a world of children, or of elves." Then she smiled, and said, "It was a good thing they could not any of them see Hola Colt." 

"Um," I said, "do you want to dance?" 

She shook her head immediately. "It is not permitted," she said. "I can do nothing that might cause damage to property. I am Wain's." 

"Would you like something to drink, then?" 

"Water," she said. 

I went back to the kitchen and poured myself another Coke, and filled a cup with water from the tap. From the kitchen back to the hall, and from there into the conservatory, but now it was quite empty. 

I wondered if the girl had gone to the toilet, and if she might change her mind about dancing later. I walked back to the front room and stared in. The place was filling up. There were more girls dancing, and several lads I didn't know, who looked a few years older than me and Vic. The lads and the girls all kept their distance, but Vic was holding Stella's hand as they danced, and when the song ended he put an arm around her, casually, almost proprietorially, to make sure that nobody else cut in. 

I wondered if the girl I had been talking to in the conservatory was now upstairs, as she did not appear to be on the ground floor. 

I walked into the living room, which was across the hall from the room where the people were dancing, and I sat down on the sofa. There was a girl sitting there already. She had dark hair, cut short and spiky, and a nervous manner. 

Talk, I thought. "Um, this mug of water's going spare," I told her, "if you want it?" 

She nodded, and reached out her hand and took the mug, extremely carefully, as if she were unused to taking things, as if she could trust neither her vision nor her hands. 

"I love being a tourist," she said, and smiled hesitantly. She had a gap between her two front teeth, and she sipped the tap water as if she were an adult sipping a fine wine. "The last tour, we went to sun, and we swam in sunfire pools with the whales. We heard their histories and we shivered in the chill of the outer places, then we swam deepward where the heat churned and comforted us. 

I wanted to go back. This time, I wanted it. There was so much I had not seen. Instead we came to world. Do you like it?" 

"Like what?" 

She gestured vaguely to the room -- the sofa, the armchairs, the curtains, the unused gas fire. 

"It's all right, I suppose." 

"I told them I did not wish to visit world," she said. "My parent-teacher was unimpressed. 'You will have much to learn,' it told me. I said, 'I could learn more in sun, again. Or in the deeps. Jessa spun webs between galaxies. I want to do that.' 

"But there was no reasoning with it, and I came to world. Parent-teacher engulfed me, and I was here, embodied in a decaying lump of meat hanging on a frame of calcium. As I incarnated I felt things deep inside me, fluttering and pumping and squishing. It was my first experience with pushing air through the mouth, vibrating the vocal cords on the way, and I used it to tell parent-teacher that I wished that I would die, which it acknowledged was the inevitable exit strategy from world." 

There were black worry beads wrapped around her wrist, and she fiddled with them as she spoke. "But knowledge is there, in the meat," she said, "and I am resolved to learn from it." 

We were sitting close at the center of the sofa now. I decided I should put an arm around her, but casually. I would extend my arm along the back of the sofa and eventually sort of creep it down, almost imperceptibly, until it was touching her. She said, "The thing with the liquid in the eyes, when the world blurs. Nobody told me, and I still do not understand. I have touched the folds of the Whisper and pulsed and flown with the tachyon swans, and I still do not understand." 

She wasn't the prettiest girl there, but she seemed nice enough, and she was a girl, anyway. I let my arm slide down a little, tentatively, so that it made contact with her back, and she did not tell me to take it away. 

Vic called to me then, from the doorway. He was standing with his arm around Stella, protectively, waving at me. I tried to let him know, by shaking my head, that I was onto something, but he called my name and, reluctantly, I got up from the sofa and walked over to the door. "What?" 

"Er. Look. The party," said Vic, apologetically. "It's not the one I thought it was. I've been talking to Stella and I figured it out. Well, she sort of explained it to me. We're at a different party." 

"Christ. Are we in trouble? Do we have to go?" 

Stella shook her head. He leaned down and kissed her, gently, on the lips. "You're just happy to have me here, aren't you darlin'?" 

"You know I am," she told him. 

He looked from her back to me, and he smiled his white smile: roguish, lovable, a little bit Artful Dodger, a little bit wide- boy Prince Charming. "Don't worry. They're all tourists here anyway. It's a foreign exchange thing, innit? Like when we all went to Germany." 

"It is?" 

"Enn. You got to talk to them. And that means you got to listen to them, too. You understand?" 

"I did. I already talked to a couple of them." 

"You getting anywhere?" 

"I was till you called me over." 

"Sorry about that. Look, I just wanted to fill you in. Right?" 

And he patted my arm and he walked away with Stella. Then, together, the two of them went up the stairs. 

Understand me, all the girls at that party, in the twilight, were lovely; they all had perfect faces but, more important than that, they had whatever strangeness of proportion, of oddness or humanity it is that makes a beauty something more than a shop window dummy. 

Stella was the most lovely of any of them, but she, of course, was Vic's, and they were going upstairs together, and that was just how things would always be. 

There were several people now sitting on the sofa, talking to the gap- toothed girl. Someone told a joke, and they all laughed. I would have had to push my way in there to sit next to her again, and it didn't look like she was expecting me back, or cared that I had gone, so I wandered out into the hall. I glanced in at the dancers, and found myself wondering where the music was coming from. I couldn't see a record player or speakers. 

From the hall I walked back to the kitchen. 

Kitchens are good at parties. You never need an excuse to be there, and, on the good side, at this party I couldn't see any signs of someone's mum. I inspected the various bottles and cans on the kitchen table, then I poured a half an inch of Pernod into the bottom of my plastic cup, which I filled to the top with Coke. I dropped in a couple of ice cubes and took a sip, relishing the sweet-shop tang of the drink. 

"What's that you're drinking?" A girl's voice. 

"It's Pernod," I told her. "It tastes like aniseed balls, only it's alcoholic." I didn't say that I only tried it because I'd heard someone in the crowd ask for a Pernod on a live Velvet Underground LP. 

"Can I have one?" I poured another Pernod, topped it off with Coke, passed it to her. Her hair was a coppery auburn, and it tumbled around her head in ringlets. It's not a hair style you see much now, but you saw it a lot back then. 

"What's your name?" I asked. 

"Triolet," she said. 

"Pretty name," I told her, although I wasn't sure that it was. She was pretty, though. 

"It's a verse form," she said, proudly. "Like me." 

"You're a poem?" 

She smiled, and looked down and away, perhaps bashfully. Her profile was almost flat -- a perfect Grecian nose that came down from her forehead in a straight line. We did Antigone in the school theater the previous year. I was the messenger who brings Creon the news of Antigone's death. We wore half-masks that made us look like that. I thought of that play, looking at her face, in the kitchen, and I thought of Barry Smith's drawings of women in the Conan comics: five years later I would have thought of the Pre-Raphaelites, of Jane Morris and Lizzie Siddall. But I was only fifteen then. 

"You're a poem?" I repeated. 

She chewed her lower lip. "If you want. I am a poem, or I am a pattern, or a race of people whose world was swallowed by the sea." 

"Isn't it hard to be three things at the same time?" 

"What's your name?" 

"Enn." 

"So you are Enn," she said. "And you are a male. And you are a biped. Is it hard to be three things at the same time?" 

"But they aren't different things. I mean, they aren't contradictory." It was a word I had read many times but never said aloud before that night, and I put the stresses in the wrong places. Contradictory. 

She wore a thin dress made of a white, silky fabric. Her eyes were a pale green, a color that would now make me think of tinted contact lenses; but this was thirty years ago; things were different then. I remember wondering about Vic and Stella, upstairs. By now, I was sure that they were in one of the bedrooms, and I envied Vic so much it almost hurt. 

Still, I was talking to this girl, even if we were talking nonsense, even if her name wasn't really Triolet (my generation had not been given hippie names: all the Rainbows and the Sunshines and the Moons, they were only six, seven, eight years old back then). She said, "We knew that it would soon be over, and so we put it all into a poem, to tell the universe who we were, and why we were here, and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for. We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable. Then we sent the poem as a pattern of flux, to wait in the heart of a star, beaming out its message in pulses and bursts and fuzzes across the electromagnetic spectrum, until the time when, on worlds a thousand sun systems distant, the pattern would be decoded and read, and it would become a poem once again." 

"And then what happened?" 

She looked at me with her green eyes, and it was as if she stared out at me from her own Antigone half-mask; but as if her pale green eyes were just a different, deeper, part of the mask. "You cannot hear a poem without it changing you," she told me. "They heard it, and it colonized them. It inherited them and it inhabited them, its rhythms becoming part of the way that they thought; its images permanently transmuting their metaphors; its verses, its outlook, its aspirations becoming their lives. Within a generation their children would be born already knowing the poem, and, sooner rather than later, as these things go, there were no more children born. There was no need for them, not any longer. There was only a poem, which took flesh and walked and spread itself across the vastness of the known." 

I edged closer to her, so I could feel my leg pressing against hers. 

She seemed to welcome it: she put her hand on my arm, affectionately, and I felt a smile spreading across my face.

"There are places that we are welcomed," said Triolet, "and places where we are regarded as a noxious weed, or as a disease, something immediately to be quarantined and eliminated. But where does contagion end and art begin?" 

"I don't know," I said, still smiling. I could hear the unfamiliar music as it pulsed and scattered and boomed in the front room. 

She leaned into me then and -- I suppose it was a kiss. . . . I suppose. She pressed her lips to my lips, anyway, and then, satisfied, she pulled back, as if she had now marked me as her own. 

"Would you like to hear it?" she asked, and I nodded, unsure what she was offering me, but certain that I needed anything she was willing to give me. 

She began to whisper something in my ear. It's the strangest thing about poetry -- you can tell it's poetry, even if you don't speak the language. You can hear Homer's Greek without understanding a word, and you still know it's poetry. I've heard Polish poetry, and Inuit poetry, and I knew what it was without knowing. Her whisper was like that. I didn't know the language, but her words washed through me, perfect, and in my mind's eye I saw towers of glass and diamond; and people with eyes of the palest green; and, unstoppable, beneath every syllable, I could feel the relentless advance of the ocean. 

Perhaps I kissed her properly. I don't remember. I know I wanted to. 

And then Vic was shaking me violently. "Come on!" he was shouting. "Quickly. Come on!" 

In my head I began to come back from a thousand miles away. 

"Idiot. Come on. Just get a move on," he said, and he swore at me. There was fury in his voice. 

For the first time that evening I recognized one of the songs being played in the front room. A sad saxophone wail followed by a cascade of liquid chords, a man's voice singing cut-up lyrics about the sons of the silent age. I wanted to stay and hear the song. 

She said, "I am not finished. There is yet more of me." 

"Sorry love," said Vic, but he wasn't smiling any longer. "There'll be another time," and he grabbed me by the elbow and he twisted and pulled, forcing me from the room. I did not resist. I knew from experience that Vic could beat the stuffing out me if he got it into his head to do so. He wouldn't do it unless he was upset or angry, but he was angry now. 

Out into the front hall. As Vic pulled open the door, I looked back one last time, over my shoulder, hoping to see Triolet in the doorway to the kitchen, but she was not there. I saw Stella, though, at the top of the stairs. She was staring down at Vic, and I saw her face. 

This all happened thirty years ago. I have forgotten much, and I will forget more, and in the end I will forget everything; yet, if I have any certainty of life beyond death, it is all wrapped up not in psalms or hymns, but in this one thing alone: I cannot believe that I will ever forget that moment, or forget the expression on Stella's face as she watched Vic hurrying away from her. Even in death I shall remember that. 

Her clothes were in disarray, and there was makeup smudged across her face, and her eyes -- 

You wouldn't want to make a universe angry. I bet an angry universe would look at you with eyes like that. 

We ran then, me and Vic, away from the party and the tourists and the twilight, ran as if a lightning storm was on our heels, a mad helter-skelter dash down the confusion of streets, threading through the maze, and we did not look back, and we did not stop until we could not breathe; and then we stopped and panted, unable to run any longer. We were in pain. I held on to a wall, and Vic threw up, hard and long, into the gutter. 

He wiped his mouth. 

"She wasn't a--" He stopped. 

He shook his head. 

Then he said, "You know . . . I think there's a thing. When you've gone as far as you dare. And if you go any further, you wouldn't be you anymore? You'd be the person who'd done that? The places you just can't go. . . . I think that happened to me tonight." 

I thought I knew what he was saying. "Screw her, you mean?" I said. 

He rammed a knuckle hard against my temple, and twisted it violently. I wondered if I was going to have to fight him -- and lose -- but after a moment he lowered his hand and moved away from me, making a low, gulping noise.

I looked at him curiously, and I realized that he was crying: his face was scarlet; snot and tears ran down his cheeks. Vic was sobbing in the street, as unselfconsciously and heartbreakingly as a little boy. 

He walked away from me then, shoulders heaving, and he hurried down the road so he was in front of me and I could no longer see his face. I wondered what had occurred in that upstairs room to make him behave like that, to scare him so, and I could not even begin to guess. 

The streetlights came on, one by one; Vic stumbled on ahead, while I trudged down the street behind him in the dusk, my feet treading out the measure of a poem that, try as I might, I could not properly remember and would never be able to repeat.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
You can also listen to Gaiman’s story with the author reading his own words on his site. Here ya go. You’re welcome.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Big Little Lies: Which Audrey Hepburn look would you choose?


Over on the Big Little Lies Facebook group—don't you love these groups where you can join in on a real active convo about your favorite book or movie?—one of the members, Jodie Shaffer French shared some pictures of the actors rocking their Audrey Hepburn looks from the Big Little Lies finale.

I know that for a lot of you Big Little Lies is in the rear view mirror but it looks like they’re doing a second season—Bonnie is rumored to have a more extensive part—so I know some of you are still interested. 

Anyway, I stole Jodie’s idea and found the images over on Vulture.com. I love the idea that the actor is portraying a character portraying an actor portraying a character! 


 Reese as Madeleine as Audrey as Holly Go Lightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Nicole as Celeste as Audrey as Holly Go Lightly


Shailene Woodley as Jane as Audrey as Holly Go Lightly 



Laura Dern as Renata as Audrey as Eliza in My Fair Lady


 Zoe Kravitz as Bonnie as Audrey as Eliza 

If you were going to a costume party and Audrey Hepburn was the costume muse, which role would you choose? Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady and Holly Go Lightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s are about as iconic as you can get, but what about ...

 Sabrina 

Jo in Funny Face?



 Princess Ann in Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, yes, that might be the one for me! How about the rest of you, which Audrey Hepburn character would you love to dress up like?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale starring Elizabeth Moss: My take on the Hulu series Ep 1-3

Sleep has been tough lately, I’m so excited about our upcoming trip to Europe, my head so full of plans and anticipation I toss and turn the whole night through. So when I woke up at 5am this morning, I decided to I might as well get up and watch a little morning Joe with a cup of joe. Until I remembered The Handmaid’s Tale was ready to stream on Hulu. 

I was thrilled to find Hulu had released the first three episodes and, yep, I watched all three of them.

No spoilers.

The show begins in the past with Offred, her husband and their daughter, running, trying to get away. It’s terrifying; a dramatic depiction that gave vivid life to a scene that author Margaret Atwood only alludes to in her taut and restrained dystopian novel. 


Another unwanted wall

That’s how the series goes. Everything Atwood wrote about this future world where toxic chemicals are so rampant that many women have lost their ability to bear children, the women who are fruitful, forced to bear the babies of their superiors, is all there. But there is so much more. The horrifying possibilities that may have crossed your mind—and more—when you read Atwood’s novel, are fully developed in the series. 


Yvonne Strahovsky is Serena Joy

Written by Bruce Miller based on Atwood’s book, the show goes back and forth between Gilead (the former US) with the dictatorship in full reign, and ‘‘the time before’’  back when women were still free individuals. What’s terrifying is seeing how the changes to the society came slowly into place. So slowly that when a right is taken away, it’s hard for the citizens to believe it is really happening. But it is.

Samira Wiley is Moira

It would be hard for any left leaning liberal like myself not to see parallels between the series and the current political climate where our right wing government seems intent on denying us rights — women’s rights, LBGTQ rights, voting rights, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the intention to turn back Roe VS Wade. The little by little erosion of those rights is not an irrational fear, women in Texas are already living in a state where the government consistently seeks ways to make abortion difficult if not impossible. If abortion laws are returned to the states, Texas lawmakers will get their way and ban abortion altogether. Women in Texas who have abortions are already forced to participate in funerals for the fetus, and Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indiana, have similar “funeral for fetuses” laws in the works. THAT’S why The Handmaid’s Tale feels so frightening. 


Finding the entertainment in the horror is possible because we see the possibility of a world like the one the book and the series paints but we don’t really believe it could happen. One thing I know, we have to make sure it doesn’t. We have to RESIST.

As far as pure entertainment goes, the first three episodes have me hooked. Director Reed Morano—a woman, by the way, cast the show perfectly, and brings the world I pictured while reading the book to life clearly. Elizabeth Moss plays Offred, her determination to be brave and bold buffered by her survival instincts. Samira Wiley is Moira, Offred’s friend from before, a woman who felt free to speak her mind, loudly and fearlessly, chastened by the new order where free speech will get you nothing but punishment from the aunts. 



Ann Dowd is Aunt Lydia

Aunt Lydia the overseer who seems to enjoy doling out the cruelty, is played with a frightening zeal by Ann Dowd while Alexis Bledel is the gay Ofglen who comes to trust and befriend Moss. According to Aunt Lydia ‘gay’ is not a word anyone is allowed to use, she calls Ofglen a Gender Traitor. I don’t remember the derisive label from Margaret Atwood’s book, it may be one of the many additions by the series creators; it’s certainly a fitting one for the world of Gilead.

Alexis Bledel is Ofglen

Like I said, I’m hooked. But my husband and I will be away from our tv when the next episode airs a week from now and traveling in Europe for the rest of the month.  I guess I’ll have something to look forward to when we come home! In the meantime, let me know what you think of the show in the comments section. With Big Little Lies a memory and Feud: Bette and Joan now in the rearview mirror, is The Handmaid’s Tale your new must-see TV?


PS I know. I didn’t mention the men. Joseph Fiennes is the commander, Max Minghella is his driver Nick with O-T Fagbenle as Luke, Offred’s husband. More, another time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Cousin Rachel: Rachel Weisz VS Olivia de Havilland—Trailer VS Trailer


Let’s play trailer VS trailer. 

We talked about the upcoming remake of My Cousin Rachel back in 2016. The original starred Olivia de Havilland, who Feud watchers got to know a little better over the last couple of months as a friend to Bette Davis, played by Catherine Zeta Jones. Don't forget you can catch up and watch the awesome Feud: Bette and Joan series on FX on Demand.

The remake starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin is set for release in select theaters on June 9th. Have you watched the trailer? Rachel Weisz, looking gorgeous, has Sam Claflin wrapped around her fingers. Seduction, entrapment. I love seeing films that show women in a dark light, as powerful and dangerous as any male villain.

Watch the trailer. Based on the classic novel by Daphne DuMaurier it’s a real killer.




Now let’s watch the original. Don’t you love the melodramatic vibe? Richard Burton was a newbie with an intensity that’s quite different from Sam Claflin’s style. But it’s the women we’re watching today. A warning to the men out there, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. What do you think? 


Monday, April 24, 2017

Feud: Bette & Joan: The finale is not for sissies

Quoting Bette Davis “Old age ain’t no place for sissies” Antonia Blythe writing in Deadline notes the age factor is especially true for women in Hollywood. 

I’m a self-described crier but last night’s Feud: Bette and Joan finale really got my waterworks running. It’s hard, no matter what your line of work or life experience, not to empathize with the two legendary stars aging before our eyes. As an older woman, that’s especially true. Blythe describes the series as following ‘‘the two Hollywood legends as they ‘age out’ of their acting careers and battle each other for supremacy.’’


Women, especially women of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s generation have always had a hard time in Hollywood, where looks were everything. When Joan Crawford’s dentist warns her that the bone loss caused by her missing back teeth is wreaking havoc with her health (Joan Crawford reportedly really did have a dental procedure called the buckle, in which the back teeth are removed to make the cheekbones more prominent) and that at her age she should be more concerned with her health than her looks, Crawford replies “I’ll stop worrying about how I look when they dip me in formaldehyde.” 


I get it Joan. Nobody wants to see an old woman’s wrinkles, sagging skin and jowls. As a boomer who turns the momentous 64 this year, I’m guilty of that same kind of thinking, avoiding cameras when possible. But wait, that kind of nonsense is over, isn’t it? Aren’t we all evolved and operating on a higher plane? Doesn’t a woman’s inner beauty count more than surface looks? Don’t her accomplishments, her experience, her wisdom outweigh all those superficial concerns? According to the producers, not so much. All you have to do is see how Hillary Clinton was tarred and feathered, her age, her looks, her potential health issues all fodder for critics in the last election.
“We shot the first four episodes thinking that Hillary Clinton was going to win, so those first four episodes were, ‘Haven’t we come so far!’ Then half-way through the shooting, the other scenario happened. It was a bracing slap of, ‘You know what? Nothing has really changed.’ It’s so hard to bring about that change that we all feel is necessary with how women are treated in our society. We worked harder at those things because it’s such a large story even today.”
I feel you Bette and Joan! And I’m so grateful that Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon leaned into playing the iconic stars, and telling their story.


“She was a great mystery,” Lange said about Crawfor. “I think part of is that she created Joan Crawford, and this was a character that she played, that was created as a collaboration between her and MGM, and she embraced it. She played it for the next 50 years. But what fascinated me about her wasn’t playing the role of Joan Crawford, as much as what was underneath. What was always just underneath the skin and behind the eyes, and that was Lucille LeSueur, who was this poor, abandoned, unloved, abused, poverty-stricken kid from San Antonio.”


“So many drag queens had already done it so much better, so I was up against that,” Susan Sarandon said of Bette Davis. “Of course I really admire her as an actor and she had been kind of chasing me for years in one form or another to do her, and I never found the right thing. This seemed to be the scariest right thing.”

I started watching Feud because I thought it would be great fun to see these two rivals come up against each other in the the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane — based on a book. I was expecting a hilarious cat fight—which we got to a degree in the earlier episodes—I wasn’t expecting to be so deeply moved by their plight. A battle for relevance beyond their surface shimmer, a fight to be recognized as the living breathing, intelligent, complicated, nuanced individuals they are beneath the makeup and mascara. A war women everywhere still wage.

Maybe you missed Feud: Bette and Joan? No worry, you can catch all the episodes at FX on demand. 
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