Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Psychological Damage

I don’t know if anyone has ever witnessed the actual act of a parent fucking up a child, but it’s pretty disturbing.  Yes it’s true, I’m not a parent (nor probably ever will be).  I also think that no matter what you come out of childhood with some kind of damage to your psyche, isn’t that the very nature of becoming an adult?  Being damaged to some extent.  But when you actually witness a parent say something to a really young child that is sure to give them a serious complex, it’s one of the most disturbing, and sadistically fascinating experiences of all time.  

I went to go see Mamma Mia! for the second time – yes it opened on Friday and I’ve seen it twice – this morning in Century City.  Century City is directly next to Beverly Hills and below Westwood, it’s kind of ritzy to say the least.  So I see the film and I’m in my euphoric ABBA-induced haze, humming Waterloo to myself.  I’ll admit, I probably don’t look all that sane.  I’m making my way through the spotlessly clean, Leave it to Beaver outdoor mall, the perfectly manicured palm trees swaying in the mild Santa Ana winds.  And to my left I hear a family, a mom, a dad and a daughter that couldn’t have been more than two.  The little girl was squirming to be put down and toddle along next to her parents.  This girl’s mother was one of those uber-yoga ladies.  She was in a Juicy Couture yoga suit, perfect blonde highlights and a body that must have cost more than my car.  Her daughter is walking at the pace of a two year old, as two year olds tend to do and the mother actually asks her daughter if she knows what speed walking is, tells her that she’s going to need to walk faster if she has to walk, then claps in time with how fast she should be walking.  Now all this is simply annoying, and I wouldn’t have been appalled if the mother had not then said to her daughter, and this is verbatim, ‘C’mon honey, you have to walk off that ice cream you ate.’  
It’s a sad shocking feeling when you are listening to a conversation like this and realize that poor innocent little girl with blonde ringlets and chubby little kid legs will have issues with food for the rest of her life.  It made me glad to have not grown up in L.A. and made me happy that I’m not one of those people who gets dragged into the crap of it.  
I guess that little girl will become an adult early.  Good luck kid.
Peace, Love, and Mamma Mia!
Julia
P.S. The Dark Knight is great (Heath Ledger steals the show) and Mamma Mia is great if you’re cool with an hour and a half of ABBA cheesiness.  I’m down for hours and hours and hours of it. 
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July 21, 2008 Posted by | Culture, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Culture War and the City

No matter what you thought of Sex and the City, the T.V. Show or the Movie, there is no question that it was groundbreaking.  Finally a show that showed women, real, flawed women.  Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte aren’t cliches, though they may be somewhat caricature-like at times.  

Since the release, and amazing success, of the movie, dozens and dozens of articles have been written about this ‘phenomenon.’  The articles have mostly been about how shocking it is that this movie did well; the ones I like are about how ridiculous it it to find this shocking.  But one article in particular caught my interest.  Not only does it bring up a somewhat horrifying look at a, I guess you can’t call it a culture war, gender war, but it brings up a particularly terrifying point about how far women have come really, the consensus, it is considerably less far than we thought.  
Consider this, Sex and the City was the first time on television (and it was on a channel that most people don’t get) women got to be flawed and imperfect and sexual and deep and shallow and tough and weak and fashionable all at once.  And the show came on the air in 1998.  
According to the Newsweek article, many men can’t stand Sex and the City, and not in the way many women can’t stand Football season or the Final Four or Sylvester Stallone Movies where we don’t want to watch it, but have no problem going out and doing our own thing while the men in our lives enjoy them.  No, men seem to actively hate Sex and the City to the point where they will bombard imdb.com to make the movie’s rating one the lowest of the year.  This is a movie, that, on the whole, got relatively positive reviews, and, I’ll put in my two cents, I absolutely loved.  More importantly, it was a movie that my mom, a self-proclaimed SATC hater, loved.  So why this backlash?  I can’t bring myself to bear the thought that a great many men would actively take this source of so much joy as a threat, but is there another explanation?  Are men threatened by the thought that our female friends are exceedingly important to us, perhaps, at times more important than men themselves?  In this new age where we are getting married and settling down later and later, your friends are the ones that have been there.  I’m not much of a relationship-y kind of person, but the vast majority of my friendships have outlasted multiple romantic relationships.  I’ve been there through numerous of my friends breakups and they’ve been there through my heartaches as well.  It stands to reason that these relationships become important, and more important than many of our romantic involvements.  Now, this is not to say that I don’t love men.  I do, sometimes to my own detriment.  This is not to say that I don’t want men.  Again, I do, sometimes to my own detriment.  This is just to say that my romantic relationships with men are not necessarily the most important relationships that I have.  Perhaps this fact scares men, but when the tables are turned, I completely expect that men will have close bonds with their friends that might be more important, and, for the most part, much different, than a relationship they have with me.  Do I feel threatened by this? No.  
On an almost completely unrelated subject, but still a Sex and the City subject, someone, as we were having a discussion about the men in the movie, asked me to name one ‘good’ man in the movie.  This struck me as somewhat of an odd question seeing as, I, as do many other women, love all the men that our ladies ended up with.  Personally, and I can’t speak for my friend, I think that all of the men in Sex and the City are ‘Good’ Men.  They’re not perfect men, that’s for sure.  They’re real.  Like our ladies, they have flaws, they make mistakes, they say the wrong things, sometimes they do things that hurt their significant others, but they are good men.  I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will say that all the men make mistakes, as do the women.  Much like in the show, the people in the movie are not, as I said, cliched-stereotypes.  Mr. Big is not some asshole out to break Carrie’s heart.  Steve isn’t some poor bartender who has to, over and over again, convince Miranda to not be so cynical when it comes to men.  Smith isn’t constantly trying to get Samantha to open up.  And Harry, is well, he’s Harry.  And sure, as in any good movie, there is conflict and people hurt for a time.  But really, in the movie the girls and the guys hurt on equal scales.  It’s just that the story is about the girls, not the guys.  And really, that’s the point.
Peace, Love, and Culture Wars,
Julia

June 21, 2008 Posted by | Culture, Hollywood, Movie Reviews, Movies, Sex and the City, Television | Leave a comment

About that Time

It’s about that time again folks, it seems to come earlier every year.  No.  It’s not Christmas yet.  It’s summer movie season!  A great time of year when big blockbuster hits, speckled with some little gems hit the theaters just in time for us to cool off in the nice air conditioning of a huge cineplex.  And it’s all kicking off this weekend folks.  So here are my predictions (a little insider info as well).  

May 2
Iron Man this weekend.  I’ve heard only good things about the latest in the superhero movies.  I’ll be at the Paramount Theater on Saturday Night with this one.  
Made of Honor also comes out today.  And as much as I love Dr. McDreamy, it’s a little too My Best Friends Wedding.  I think this one is a renter.  
May 9
Speed Racer.  I’m not quite sure why they felt that this needed to be a movie.  It was a cheesy japanese cartoon show and really didn’t need to be a film.  That being said the cast is fantastic and it might be a must see.  We’ll wait until the review come out before the real opinion comes out.
What happens in Vegas.  Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, not my favorite duo, though this could be a nice sweet surprise.  It could be the cute romantic comedy summer hit.  Of course, it could be a fucking disaster too.  I’m kind of drawn to it in a weird way.  
May 22
The biggest movie of the summer according to me will be Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I was lucky enough to see some of the sets, which look amazing.  I think this is going to be great, and it’s got my pedophile crush Shia LeBouef as well as my sexy geriatric Harrison Ford.  Can’t go wrong.  Not to mention they are bringing back Indy’s love interest from Raiders (she was the best one).  Can’t wait to see this, it might have to be a midnight viewing.
May 30
So I was skeptical about this, and still am a little iffy, but I’ll be there (most likely on opening night), yes ladies, it’s our girls on the big screen.  The Sex and the City Movie comes out on the 30th.  From the looks of the trailer it’s everything we want and more, just one thing….the ending of the show was so perfect, this movie is going to have to be perfect just to not piss all of us off.  I’ll be there opening night.
May
Also out in May, the movie I’m really looking forward to is Son of Rambow.  A British film about kids who make an action movie.  It looks fantastic and has received nothing but good reviews.
June 13
The Incredible Hulk.  The first Hulk movie was a complete and total disaster and I kind of think this might be too.  Edward Norton is great casting for Bruce Banner, but dare I say it, the Hulk just might work better in comic book form.  It’s a hard concept to sell, man gets pissed and grows in to big green monster guy.  It’s hard to be a real movie.  
June 20
Get Smart.  I have a feeling this one is going to be great.  Perfect casting.  Steve Carrell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99.  I’m really excited.  
Also out on the 20th Brick Lane.  It was a book by Monica Ali.  When I lived in London everyone was reading it on the tube (which is always a good sign because Brits read good books) and the movie looks great.  
The Love Guru.  Mike Meyers needs to stick to Austin Powers, this movie is sure to be a disaster.  It looks unbearable.  
June 27 
Wanted.  So excited about this.  It’s based on a Graphic Novel and has Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy (who I want to do naughty things to).  Sort of Fight Club like, cubicle workers take over the world kind of thing.  Can’t Wait.  
June
I should also mention Kung-Fu Panda which will probably be a big animated hit, but looks like total crap.  Sorry folks, but what’s the story there?
July 2
Hancock.  I’m the only person on earth who can’t stand Will Smith so I am a completely biased judge.  That being said, it’s an interesting premise.  First black superhero.  Maybe worth it for the novelty factor, though I have yet to discover what his superpowers are.  It doesn’t just work if the novelty is black superhero, it has to be cool/good superhero.
July 11
Hellboy 2.  There’s a bit of a trend this summer.  Hellboy is another comic book movie, it’s a great premise about a guy who is destined for evil but tries to do good.  The first one was great and I’m hoping the second one lives up.  I think it will.  
July 18
The Dark Night.  I will see this at the midnight before screening (haven’t been to one of those since Sin City came out).  It looks absolutely amazing.  The late and amazing Heath Ledger is going to be unstoppable and even though I had issues with Batman Begins, I feel in safe hands.  This one is going to be huge and it’s going to be great.
July 18th will be a huge movie day for me because MAMMA MIA! is coming to the big screen.  So my brits know what this means, as I saw this show a whopping 8 times when I lived in London and I’ve seen it in total 9 times (once in the U.S.)  The casting is impeccable and it will be wonderful.  If you haven’t seen the show, go to the movie, then fly to Vegas or New York or London and see the show (and take me with you).
July 25
X-Files Movie.  Need I say more.  I’m betting it was worth the wait.
August 8
Pineapple Express.  From the Judd Apatow crew (Knocked Up, Superbad, Forty Year Old Virgin).  This will be a hit and it certainly looks like they’ve hit that magic again.  
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.  The inner 13 year old in me loved the first one (it has a place on my overflowing DVD rack) and I’m stoked for the second one.  This is going to be big because all these girls went out and got freaking famous between films.  Before Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) was the real Box Office Draw, but now you’ve got America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Blake Lively (Gossip Girl).  It’ll be good, and I’ll be in a theater full of 12 year olds.  
August 15
Tropic Thunder.  A friend of mine worked on this and said it’s really funny.  I think it’s going to be a surprise hit, but don’t hold me to that…you never know what can happen once you get to editing a film.
Alright those are my predictions.  We’ll see and have a happy summer movie viewing season.
Peace, Love, and Summer Blockbusters
Julia

May 1, 2008 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

The Future has a way of Arriving Unannouced.

So I’ve been avoiding this topic seeing as it’s all sort of up in the air right now, but it has been eating at my brain and I’ve just got to get it out.  The topic is, of course, Oscars.  Now I really don’t know what’s going on with the Oscars, as far as I’ve heard right now they are on.  I know the Academy is trying to barter with the writers to let them happen without a hitch, if this doesn’t work, the Screen Actors Guild will not attend.  That means that there will be no movie stars at the Oscars.  They will still happen and be broadcast, but the presenters will basically be studio big wigs (a.k.a. the ugly people who no one wants to see, but who are in charge of getting movies made).  That’s what I know so far and no, there is no end in sight to the strike.  

But that is not what I want to talk about.  I’ve alluded to this topic before, but really this year there’s no avoiding it.  We need to discuss the fact that the indie film has triumphed at the Oscars.  In fact, this year more than any other, the indie film has triumphed in the box office as well as at the awards ceremonies.  Scrolling through the list of Oscar Nominations, there are maybe a handful of nominations in the big categories (that would be acting, writing, directing, and best picture) that are studio movies.  There are actually four to be exact (Johnny Depp, Best Actor for Sweeney Todd, Ruby Dee, Best Supporting Actress for American Gangster, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Supporting Actor for Charlie Wilson’s War, and Brad Bird for Best Original Screenplay for Ratatoullie).  
The past couple years have seen a big increase on the amount of independent films that have been nominated for Academy Awards (not to mention Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Directors Guild America Awards, etc).  Last year I believe I mentioned that there were an unprecedented amount of nominated indie films, but last year also had The Departed, Dreamgirls, Blood Diamond, etc, all of which were big studio movies.  This year, the only studio movies that had a shot were Charlie Wilson’s War and American Gangster (you know Ridley Scott thought he had the Oscars won, but alas, the times they are a-changing), both of which were good (I especially loved Charlie Wilson’s) it’s just that they weren’t great.  There’s just no competing with No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood.  
The big ‘Oscar’ movie this year was supposed to be Atonement.  It’s got everything an Oscar movie is supposed to be.  Sweeping romance, tragedy, a five+ minute steadicam shot through the beaches at Dunkirk (this shot alone is worth the price of admission), and a twist ending that leaves the audience both shocked and thoroughly gut-wrenched.  Atonement was compared to Titanic (which is still tied with All About Eve with the most nominations of all time; 14 to be exact), a decade old Oscar favorite, it was touted as the best picture of the year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (they give the Golden Globes), but come Oscar nomination time it garnered no nominations for acting or directing.  Now, I personally loved Atonement an think that Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy should have been nominated, but whatever, they wouldn’t have won anyway.  What really matters is that Atonement is an independent film.  Focus Features made it.  They made other indie favorites like Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation and Monsoon Wedding.  And this movie was being touted as an Oscar favorite.  
After the Golden Globes I was pretty certain Atonement would sweep for Oscar Nominations, though I didn’t think it would win a lot of them, I was sure it would be nominated in all major categories, but it wasn’t.  That means that films like Michael Clayton and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly made a showing in the big categories.  But the fact of the matter is this is the year where quality movie making finally matters.  It really matters, there aren’t any pity nominations (you know, the we snubbed you so many times we’re going to give it to you this time…hello, Martin Scorsese last year).  There aren’t any token big blockbuster nominations (which have been the staple for pretty much the entire life of the Academy).  This year, more than ever, it’s about quality. 
I’m not arguing that it wasn’t about quality before, it was just about quality and market appeal and money and all that stuff.  But this year too, the independent movie has made a bit of a comeback at the box office.  There’s always one or two indie films that are big hits at the box office, but this year it seems like most of them are holding steady at the box office.  Sure the winner is, hands down, Juno (which has recently surpassed the $100 million mark – pretty good for a film that only took $2 million to make), but No Country, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, and Michael Clayton all made a decent amount of money at the box office.  I think it’s finally getting to the point where America, on the whole appreciates a good film.  
So I’ll digress for just a moment and say that though I’m optimistic I heart a disturbing statistic the other day that stated the average American sees 7 films a year.  I want to know who these people are.  I see 7 films in a month or so.  I’m guessing the people who see 7 a year are the same people that made ‘Night at the Museum’ a huge financial success.  
Anyway, come oscar night there will be many certainties.  Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, The Coen Brothers, Javier Bardem will all walk away with a golden statue (or they’ll have it sent to them, depending on what happens with the strike).  Best Picture is up in the air, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Atonement wins that (and I won’t be disappointed – I don’t think it was the Best Picture of the year, but I don’t know if the Academy has changed enough to give it to No Country for Old Men).  One more certainty this year: independent films have finally received the respect they deserve.  
Peace, Love, and Independent Cinema,

Julia

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Awards Shows, Coen Brothers, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies, Oscars | Leave a comment

Los Angeles Caucus

Ah, it’s election time again.  Time for the ceaseless advertisements in newspapers, on television, on huge billboards all over the city.  That’s right folks, it’s election time in L.A.
Oh wait, you thought I was talking politics.  No no, we don’t really like politics in L.A.  Sure we pretend to care.  We go out and buy hybrid Lexus SUVs when Al Gore tells us to.  We love what excellent stories are coming out of the cocked up Bush Administration (wait until he’s gone, there will be 8 trillion movies about what a fucking disaster that was).  But really, here in L.A., we could give a fuck about politics.  We don’t care about Iowa or New Hampshire because right now we’re having our own election coverage.  It’s awards season and it’s time to vote.  Now, it’s been a year since my last golden globe/oscar recaps and I still have yet to be allowed into the vote…patience dear friends, patience.  However, living in L.A. means I’m inundated with advertisements telling me how fucking fantastic every single film that is out right now is.  I’m pretty sure Juno, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Sweeney Todd are all the best movies of the year, as stated by every movie reviewer that has ever lived.

I never quite got how reviewers call every movie the best movie of the year.  Do you just not have discerning taste because I can pick which one I liked the best and I’ve seen all of them?  Is it the campaign funds?  Are the studios paying the critics (they’re certainly not paying the writers) to call every movie the best movie of the year (even the ones that are unbearable)?  What is up with that?

In my opinion there was only one best movie of the year and it was Juno, but I also know how people in Hollywood feel about comedies (the same way people in Washington feel about Hilary): How nice that it’s there, now we’re going to give this award to something that’s a little different (read: No Country for Old Men and Barack).

Now, like our Presidential races, we in Hollywood are having some set backs and some uncharted territory.  You might be aware that there’s a writers strike going on.  In fact, you might be aware that your favorite television shows are done, if not they’ve only got one or two episodes left.  I know, I know, you’re devastated that you won’t see what’s happening on House for the rest of the year…that’s right, they’re not coming back until next season and even then, we might be behind.  But what you may not know is that this is going to affect the awards shows.  I’m completely heartbroken.  Basically, the WGA agreed not to picket the Golden Globes if NBC didn’t air it on National Television.  NBC said that it has the right to film the Golden Globes and if they go on, they will film it and put it on T.V.  As of right now, the Golden Globes are set to go on.  What the hell does this mean?  It means that there will be a bunch of nobodies at the Golden Globes (I’m expecting my invitation any day…this might be the only year I get to go).  All the actors, who are in sympathy with the writers, will not be attending.  Plus, they can’t write anything for the Globes because they can’t use WGA writers.  So basically it will go something like this.  The nominees for best picture drama are __________________.    And the Globe goes to ____________________.   How thrilling.  The oscars will be the same way.  I’m trying to make it through this hard time but it hurts me deeply.

So yes, it could be that there is no Christmas for Julia this year.  No speeches that make me cry.  No watching Diablo Cody say something awesome about being a stripper in Minnesota (cold, don’t try it is what I gather) and winning an Academy Award (pretty sure she’ll be the first in history).  But perhaps the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will make some sort of deal with the WGA and be able to show the Oscars.  If Letterman did it, then the Academy should be able to, right?  I’m grasping for straws.  Shit.

Okay, well, I guess I’ll get to it.  Julia’s 2007 Award predictions:

Best Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody for Juno

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men

Best Director:
Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men, or
Tim Burton for Sweeny Todd
(neither of these folks has an Oscar or a Globe for this so I’m thinking it’s one or the others year)

Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, though I could see an upset as
Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (he was absolutely amazing in it).

Best Supporting Actress
There aren’t many stellar performances this year.  I could see it going to
Saoirse Ronan for Atonement but I could also see it going to a big hitter like
Cate Blanchett for I’m Not There or
Julia Roberts for Charlie Wilson’s War

Best Actor
It’s a toss up between
Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood (he’s so good, it’s unreal), but it could be the year that the Academy finally pulls it’s head out of it’s ass and gives it to
Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd…they do love giving awards to musicals (hello Catherine Zeta-Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Hudson, etc)

Best Actress
This is actually one of the hardest to call.  In my opinion they should throw it at
Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose.  No words can describe how good she is.  However, I could see the Academy giving it to
Kiera Knightly for Atonement to try and solidify her as a true leading lady (too bad she can’t seem to shake the period pieces).  I could also see them throwing it to
Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart because America has forgotten that she already has a fucking award and she sure as hell doesn’t deserve one for this movie, but it’s a political thing…who says we don’t care about politics?  Oh wait, me 😛  I could also see
Ellen Page for Juno upsetting this race.  I personally would be happy but Marion deserves it by far.  It’s just I don’t know if the Academy is going to give it to a French lady in a foreign movie (that’s only happened like two times, Roberto Benigni and someone else).

And last but not least,
Best Picture
This is hard to call.  Personally I think it will be
No Country for Old Men, but I could see
There Will Be Blood taking it.
I could see Juno upsetting, but I doubt it.  Also, I could see
Sweeney Todd upsetting, but I doubt it.
This race is down to No Country and There Will be Blood.
Personally I think No Country was the better of the two, but I could see either one taking it.

Alright kids, well, until next time, Barack the Vote.

Peace, Love, and Happy Campaigning,
Julia

January 7, 2008 Posted by | Awards Shows, Coen Brothers, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies, Musicals, Oscars, Politics | Leave a comment

El Diablo

I used to think that it was just Santa Cruz that was in a bubble.  I mean, growing up in Santa Cruz, it was easy to forget there was a whole world out there.  Well, let’s not go that far.  I wanted to leave Santa Cruz for as long as I lived there.  I guess what I really mean to say is that it was easy to forget that not every town has a riot when Borders comes in.  Elsewhere in the world it’s considered alcoholism to go on a two year long bender.  Elsewhere in the world, it’s not typical to sleep with people your friends have slept with and then chat about it over your own individual $4 pitcher of beer.  I used to think it was just Santa Cruz.  I wasn’t in London long enough to realize that it had it’s own bubble, but thinking back on it I did spend an approximate six month period without ever leaving the city.  It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I started on a new theory.  Every city is in its own bubble.  Every town.  Every village.  Every hamlet is in its own bubble.  The bubbles have their own respective quirks and nuances.  In L.A. it is not shocking that these quirks often center around the film industry.  Sometimes when I’m writing these emails I forget that the vast majority of you don’t live in the L.A. area, therefore, often (if I’m talking about a movie) the film hasn’t opened in your neck of the woods or you haven’t heard of it.  I love it when you all write back and tell me I’m writing about something you haven’t heard of because it reminds me that I’m in a bubble.  The L.A. bubble.  I like that you guys keep me in check like that.That being said, I know I just said a little something about No Country for Old Men, which I’m assuming is at your local art cinema house, but I’m going to talk about another small movie right now.  It’s being talked about all over L.A. but, as I just said, I’m not sure if it’s being talked about or noticed elsewhere.  I’m pretty sure this film will win best original screenplay or at least be nominated.  It’s the little movie that could.  It’s called Juno.  I just got home from seeing it and I haven’t quite consolidated all my thoughts, but here it goes anyway.  Watching the film I sort of thought the whole time that I wished the film had come out 8 years ago, when I was in High School.  I really could have used it then.  The main character, Juno, is really awesome and unlike any other character I’ve ever seen on film.  I guess the closest we’ve seen is Thora Birch in Ghost World, but unlike her, Juno is vastly vibrant and alive.  Sure she’s disaffected youth.  She listens to Iggy and the Stooges, she dresses in jeans and flannel shirts, but she’s actually a pretty hopeful and optimistic character.  Ellen Page (remember that name because I’m betting she’ll be nominated this year) who plays Juno, is heartwarming and heartbreaking in the same frame.  She’s just such a kid in such an adult situation.  It’s a brilliant film.  I won’t bore you with all the details.  I’m just saying that you should definitely go see it.  It’ll be out soon where you are if it’s not out already, but movies have to be released in L.A. before January 1 otherwise they are out of Oscar contention.  That’s right folks Oscar season is upon us.  I’m not going to give my out and out predictions yet, it’s too soon.  What I will say is that this year is going to be a year for the independent movies.  There are only one or two studio movies that are even being buzzed about for Oscar contention (American Gangster and Sweeney Todd).  So be prepared for a year of good movies getting nominated.Peace, Love, and Diablo Cody,Julia

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Alcoholism, High School, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies, Oscars | Leave a comment

No Country for Bad Taste.

So I saw No Country for Old Men last night for the second time.  As before, it was fantastic, but this time I saw it with a bunch of people.  Now, I get that people have different tastes in film, in art, etc, but I respect some of those differences and (if we’re going to be honest) I judge for some of those differences.  That’s right.  Now I don’t judge on the big things, but I’ll tell you the truth.  If someone thinks a film like American Beauty is a piece of crap, I lose some respect.  There are very few things that are like this, but recently I’ve found a new one.  It’s No Country for Old Men.I get that it’s not a typical film.  But that’s really what makes it so awesome.  It’s really not a typical Coen Brothers film, and even though I love the Coen Brothers, that’s another thing that makes the movie so awesome.

So here’s the real deal.  A bunch of the people I saw the movie with said ‘what’s the point?’  No Country doesn’t really make it’s point like most movies do.  I mean, the underlying theme of the film is really truly underlying.  And everyone sort of zones out during Tommy Lee Jones’ final speech because they don’t know it’s his final speech, but that is where the whole point of the movie is.  I mean, it’s a movie about how an older generation becomes obsolete.  Yeah, it’s not happy.  Yeah, it’s almost taboo.  But you know what, like American Beauty, it’s a film that outlines an inherent truth, that at a certain point (this was even more true for Vietnam Vets in the ’80s) the older ways of functioning within a particular area of society out grow the older members of that same social demographic.

I think why I take such offense to people who don’t like the film is that, much like the book, which was also amazingly brilliant, the point is not splayed out, not spoon fed.  You don’t know much about the characters, just that they’re interesting, and you want to know more.  You don’t know who the real villains are, just that they are omnipresent.  I love that you have to work for the film to make sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fun movie.  I mean, you all know that my favorite movie is Clueless.  On the other hand, I also like when I have to work a little bit for a movie.  You know, like when art actually makes you think…I mean, isn’t that kind of the point?

I have to say the other reason I get really peeved is that many of the people that hated this movie are the ones that say they don’t want movies that are too realistic.  I mean, why do you need to see real life on screen, isn’t real life depressing enough?  I don’t know, I really don’t know what to think about that.  I really don’t know how to react to that kind of logic.  I mean, that’s like saying that the Mona Lisa should have never been painted, the statue of David never been made because we all know what real people look like.  And I’m sorry that’s just not a good argument.  I get that there are times for the realistic movies and times for the fantasy.  And as I have said before I’m a big fan of romantic comedies, which are complete fantasy.  I also see the importance of art being honest and real.

So here’s the deal.  See the movie, like, don’t like, just don’t tell me there’s not a point to it.  And do me a favor.  Read the book and see what an amazing adaptation the film is.  Then watch as the Coen Brothers win Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture…and watch Javier Bardem win Best Actor.

Peace, Love, and Chigurh,

Julia

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Awards Shows, Books, Coen Brothers, Hollywood, Movie Reviews, Movies, Politics | 2 Comments

I Don’t Want to be a Traitor to My Generation or Anything, But…

When we were kids Aunt Mary used to take us on movie marathons. We
would go to a movie theater, sometimes in our pajamas, pay for one
movie and stay for two or three. Often times this was a birthday
celebration, sometimes it was just a declaration of our independence
from overpriced theaters. One thing it always was, loads of fun. So
in July of 1995, for Brian’s birthday we all went on one of these
movie marathons. I’ve said before the movies that really effected me,
I can always remember the setting in which I first saw them. This one
is no different. I remember we saw A Kid in King Arthur’s Court,
which I only remember because I had a crush on the lead kid. I forget
what the second movie we saw was, but the third movie just happened to
change my whole generation. It was Clueless. That’s right, now can
you see why I don’t tell everyone what my actual favorite movie is? I
mean, it’s a little embarrassing when you’re having a discussion about
favorite movies and people are naming The Godfather and I come back
with Clueless. So sometimes I say Almost Famous. So yeah, here we
go: Why Clueless is the best movie ever? Or How Julia became aware
of the power of film.

I’ve been working on a theory for quite some time now. The theory is
something like, if you take anyone, but mostly women, between the ages
of 21 and 28, they all have a similar way of talking, a similar way of
communicating, many similar gesticulations, they have some very
glaringly obvious similarities, and sure some of them come from
growing up at the same time and thus having the same cultural lexicon
to communicate with, but it’s more than that. My theory is that
Clueless actually changed the way we all talk, communicate, and act.
I know, I know, this is a big claim, but think about it (especially
you in the demographic I’m talking about). You probably remember very
vividly this movie coming out. You remember wearing the school girl
clothes with the knee high socks-no Britney Spears was not responsible
for this. Sure she slutted it up (shocking, I know), but she didn’t
popularize it. You remember dressing like this at the school dances,
running your hands through your now straigtened hair, like Cher did in
the scene with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I definitely wanted a
Jeep for years after. We all started listening to No Doubt after
Clueless. Like, as a way of pausing mid-sentence, became part of our
language. As if. I mean, I’m not saying that we still use the same
exact vernacular as they used in the film, what I am saying is that,
much like Shakespeare, Clueless opened up our collective minds to the
fact that we could actually make up our own words. How do you think
words like Gi-normous, or creep-tastic or bootylicious crept in to the
language of todays youth? It was Clueless. I mean, it’s not like
we’re totally buggin’, we just realized that we didn’t have to adhere
to the conventions of proper English, at least when we’re speaking.
So that’s my theory, maybe in 20 years I’ll finally have done some
actual research and I’ll write a book on it…if there are any
linguists in the crowd, feel free to steal, I just want Story credit.

Alright so I guess there are worse movies that I could like, love,
than Clueless. I mean, it is, perhaps, the best film adaptation of
Emma that’s ever been realized. And where better to modernize Jane
Austen than the halls of Bronson Alcott High School in Beverly Hills,
CA. I mean please, Jane Austen is nothing if not the 19th Century
version of 90210 in its heyday. I have to give Amy Heckerling credit
for the fact that she rocked the shit out of updating that material
and made it pertinent and poignant for the youth of 1995.

The thing that’s easy to forget about Clueless when we watch it now is
that it was satirical when it came out. Kids weren’t walking down the
halls at school talking on their cell phones, they weren’t having
those conversations where they start on a cell phone and then you run
into each other and continue the conversation while hanging up the
phone, no hitch in the conversation. This was not happening in
regular society in 1995. It was hysterical…now it’s just real.
Hmmm, prescient too. I guess there’s more to this movie than rich
teenagers in Beverly Hills.

It was also the first real portrayal of gay teens in the mainstream,
and what sorts of traits should set off the gaydar. I mean, now, it’s
not shocking to find out that Christian is gay. He certainly dresses
better than I do, what would I bring to the relationship? Christian
was when we girls of 1995 first learned that being a disco dancing,
Streisand ticket holding, oscar wilde reading, friend of dorothy were
all OGT’s (Obviously Gay Traits). We also learned that your gay BFF
could be your best shopping buddy. That’s where we got our education
about our gays before Sex and the City.

Not only was Clueless educational but it was also just damn funny. I
mean the freeway scene, I’m sorry but nothing on screen now can even
compare to how funny that scene is. Which actually brings me to my
next point. Clueless always just got better the older I got. It’s
the kind of humor that you get as you get more worldly. When I first
saw it at the age of 11 I never got the joke that a then chubby
Brittany Murphy utters, “You guys got Coke here?” Cher Answers,
“Yeah, this is America.” My 11 year old self thought, of course they
have Coca-Cola…where’s she from that she doesn’t have Coca-Cola.
Cut to three years later…’wait, is she talking about Cocaine?’ Oh
that’s hilarious. And there’s a whole new layer that comes when you
move to Los Angeles. When Cher’s dad claims that she should be home
in 20 minutes because ‘everywhere in L.A. takes 20 minutes.’ It’s a
sort of subtle joke that is so L.A. because theoretically everything
should take 20 minutes…and you’re still not where you should be 2
hours later.

So yes Clueless is my favorite movie. Now you know. And knowing is
half the battle.

Peace, Love, and Happy Thanksgiving,
Julia

November 22, 2007 Posted by | Gay/Lesbian, High School, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Look under your bed, it’ll set you free.

Okay, you were promised a countdown, and, much like me I’ve gotten off
track. But I’m back with the number 1 movie of all time. Well,
actually, it’s not really my favorite movie of all time. So I guess
the time has come to end suspense of why exactly I have 5.5 favorite
movies. I have tweo competing favorite movies of all time and
depending on what context I’m asked in I might say one or the other.
This film, that I will write about in just a moment gets second
billing only for the reason that it was not as influential in my life
and in my generation. Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about that one
later, but as for this movie, the actual better of the two, it’s
something that’s very near and dear to my heart. Like the other
movies that I’ve said something about previously, I’ll try not to
repeat myself, but I seriously love this movie and it’s hard not to
gush ad naseum about it, so I’ll try to keep this interesting.

So my favorite movie of all time (sometimes) is Almost Famous. Yes
we’re back to Cameron Crowe. He’s my favorite writer (the Coen
Brothers are my favorite film makers). I love Mr. Crowe dearly
because he got me through high school with Say Anything and Jerry
Maguire. But he got me throught college with Almost Famous. I have
the special edition of Almost Famous which is called Untitled : The
Bootleg (also known as the Directors cut). It’s almost 3 hours long
so it wouldn’t have really appealed to a theatrical audience, but it’s
definitely the version to watch if you’re a fan of the movie. I was
watching the commentary on this untitled version the other day and
Cameron Crowe says something very interesting about the film, well,
actually he says a lot of interesting things about the film, but one
of them is that the film was all about capturing the feeling of the
time. Sure it captured emotion and human interaction, but really what
you should take away from Almost Famous is the feeling. It’s that
feeling when rock was still subversive, when rock was still cool, when
it was mysterious and mythic. Those rockstars of the seventies were
the hercules, the beowulf, the napoleon of their day. These gods who
told us what we were feeling before we even knew we were feeling it.
I look at that time as the last time rock was truly pure. When it was
really about good music, and not solely about money. And you’ve got
to hand it to him, Cameron really did capture that feeling.

Most of that feeling is really all Kate Hudson. She plays Penny Lane
as a person who really truly is a groupie (or band aid) just for the
music. Like, she just loves the music so much that she has to tour
with the bands…and have sex with them. When the logic is written
out it doesn’t really make much sense, but in the film, she is
absoultely magnetic. You just can’t help but love her and you can’t
take your eyes off her.

I also have to say the costume designer and art department also get
major credit for making the movie feel authentically like the ’70s. I
wasn’t even there and I know it seems authentic.

I could wax poetic about how amazingly awesome Kate Hudson’s
performance is, but really you should just rent the movie. I could
also wax poetic about how amazingly awesome Frances McDormand is, but
if you’ve seen any of her movies, you probably already know — I was
watching Fargo the other day and dear lord is that movie awesome. And
yes, the writing in Almost Famous is awesome. And the directing is
awesome. And all the actors rock.

But really, what I want to talk about is the seamless way in which the
film really lets us into this world of rock and roll. Unlike most
rock movies where you are simply witnessing the action, Almost Famous
really brings you in and says, come stay awhile. It’s a thank you
note to rock for being there through the good and the bad.

I think that’s where the movie really gets me. It is basically a
movie about how music touches people, but it’s not some shmultzy music
of the heart shit, it’s like real, this is how music effects regular
people’s lives, stuff. I love that it’s not an uplifting movie about
kids from a bad neighborhood that are changed by music (though I’m not
saying that those are bad, or not important). Almost Famous is about
a kid who loves music and gets to live out every kid who has ever
loved music’s fantasy. It’s definitely amazing that the story is
true, but it kind of doesn’t matter. It’s all about loving music.
That is the one thread between every single character in the movie,
even as the interpersonal relationships get muddled, they still all
love music. One of my favorite scenes in the movies is where Philip
Seymour Hoffman (playing Lester Bangs, the famous rock writer) is
talking about how because the war is over, it’s a dangerous time for
rock and roll, there’s not as much to sing about that really means
something. The scene fades into Penny Lane dancing alone to Cat
Stevens’ The Wind in a now empty arena after a concert. I just think
that says it all. She’s the one who will always love rock and roll
for being rock and roll. As William says in the end, “she was the
biggest fan.”

And that’s what Almost Famous is to me. Sure it’s made of great
acting, great writing and great directing. And, as I’ve said before,
my favorite scene in movie history is the ‘tiny dancer’ scene. But
really it’s all about loving music, and really that’s all I’m about.
I’m all about loving music, and the feeling that it gives us when we
love a silly piece of music so much that it almost hurts. That’s
Almost Famous.

Peace, Love, and being Hooked on a Feeling,
Julia

November 7, 2007 Posted by | Cameron Crowe, Movie Reviews, Movies, Music | Leave a comment

Fuck Me Your Majesty!

I know, I know. It’s inexcusable to be incommunicado for so long, but
I’m very sorry. I’ve been working lots of T.V. shows which means no
access to a computer. But I’m back and you might actually be
recieving two emails today because I have a few very important things
to talk about. First though, I promised a movie countdown and we’re
on to number 2 in the final countdown.

So here goes. My second favorite movie of all time
is…………AMERICAN BEAUTY. I can remember exactly where I was for
almost all movies that have had a profound impact on my life. I can
remember what theater, who I was with, I can remember my frame of
mind, it’s a little weird, but whatever. American Beauty will always
stay with me as a movie that just got it right. Now I know a lot of
people that think movies should be an escape. Why go see a movie that
portrays how miserable life can be? And I totally get that arguement,
I just don’t agree with it.

The brilliance of American Beauty is how spot on it is. It’s a real
portrayal of a real American family. Who doesn’t know people like
this? People who like to pretend that everything is great, when
everything is falling apart. And the amazing part of this movie is
that this theme permeates all the characters in a variety of different
ways. From Annette Benning (who was totally robbed of an Oscar for
that performance), to Kevin Spacey (who deserved his Oscar), to Chris
Cooper (hello, who knew he had it in him?) and Allison Janney (is
there any role she can’t play?). American Beauty is the perfect
movie.

It starts out in the Sunset Boulevard type of noir
narrative…basically, it’s narrated by a dead guy who tells you he’s
dead, and takes you from a turning point to his death. I love the
noirish aspects of the movie: we hear everything from Lester’s (Kevin
Spacey) point of view, it’s a dark view of life (a.k.a. it’s
realistic), and the true mystery is who kills Lester Burnham, which we
find out at the end in a huge climax.

But that’s not enough to make it my favorite movie ever. I mean, I
love noir movies but none of them are in the top five. I think it’s
really the movie’s catchphrase that says it all…Look Closer. That’s
the thing about this film is it’s really all about what we are
underneath everything. What are we beneath the labels and the facade
that we put on for the rest of the world? And everyone does this,
everyone has some side of front that they put up in public, but what
are we beneath all that? American Beauty really explores this.

We all know that Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey were absolutely
flawless in those roles, but I want to talk about the other adults.
The underrated ones. Chris Cooper and Allison Janney are amazing in
their roles. Allison Janney is someone I always associate with
comedy. The first roles I saw her in were 10 Things I Hate About You
and Drop Dead Gorgeous, both comedies, both of which she’s
ridiculously hilarious in. I’ve seen Drop Dead Gorgeous about 8
million times and I still practically pee myself every time she comes
on screen with her Minnesota accent. But in American Beauty she is
silent almost the whole time. She stares off into space blankly, she
says very little, but when she does speak it’s always something like
‘would you like some bacon?’ She’s like a ghost. That performance
is so amazing it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Now, Chris Cooper had definitely been lauded for his performance…you
might want to skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t seen the
movie. As I was saying, Chris Cooper has been lauded for his
performance, but he’s always overshadowed by Kevin Spacey. And sure,
Kevin Spacey was great, and yes he’s the lead, but Chris Cooper plays
the best uptight military man there is, and makes the best turn around
in film history. I mean, who sees it coming when he kisses Kevin
Spacey at the end of the film. It’s just amazing, and the
vulnerability in such a tough man is…I mean, that’s not easy to do.

As great as the adult actors are, and they are great, I always
identified with the teenage characters. I mean who hasn’t felt
completely embarrassed by their parents in one way or another (as most
of you know my parents live to embarrass me and try to do it whenever
possible). But also, as a teenager, who hasn’t been swayed by their
friends opinion, who hasn’t tried to fit in. At the beginning of the
movie there is a great scene where the two girls (Mena Suvari and
Thora Birch) are cheerleading, but they aren’t paying attention to the
basketball game at all, nor do they care what is going on. This is
the perfect example. They think they are supposed to be cheerleaders,
but they don’t give a crap about basketball. And of course, there’s
the big reveal, where we find out Mena Suvari’s character is a virgin,
even though she’s been talking about how much sex she’s had throughout
the entire movie. I love this because I know plenty of people who did
something like this in high school, exaggerating how far they’d gone
or what they’d done. It just rang true to me.

I remember leaving the theater (the Cinema 9 to be exact) with my mom
and both of us couldn’t speak. We just kind of blankly walked out of
the theater looking like deer in headlights. And I remember after
that first viewing being very struck by the relationship, or
infatuation, between Kevin Spacey’s character and Mena Suvari’s
character. I mean, it just seemed so wrong. But after my twentieth
viewing or so I now see everything differently. Now there are more
themes and instances that I find poignant. I love the humor.
American Beauty contains one of the funniest lines in cinema…I’ll
give you a hint, it’s the title of this email. When Annette Bening is
cheating on her husband with the real estate king she yells this out;
I pretty much think it’s the funniest line ever. The thing that’s
amazing about the use of humor in American Beauty is how it goes from
these great funny moments, to total seriousness. The best example is
when Annette Bening in her slip chants ‘I will sell this house today’
quickly turns into her breaking down and then slapping herself in the
face to try to stop crying. I mean, that scene alone should have won
her the oscar.

And I can’t talk about the film without talking about he music.
Thomas Newman’s haunting score really sets the tone for the whole
movie. It’s full of chimes and xylophones, which have a sort of
hollow sound. They’re rich but they almost lack a center. Isn’t that
a great metaphor for the film.

American Beauty is one of those films that has only gotten better and
more poignant the more I’ve watched it. It gets more poignant the
older I get. It gets richer and richer the farther I get into
‘adulthood.’ Even though it’s not my favorite movie of all time, it
may actually be the best movie of all time.

“Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t
take it…and my heart is going to cave in.”

Peace, Love, and Rose Petals,
Julia

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Gay/Lesbian, Hollywood, Movie Reviews, Movies, Music, Oscars | 1 Comment