Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

P.S.

I forgot to add that the most awesome thing ever was when the Military Personnel with their ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy announced the best short doc category and the lesbians won it.  That maybe more poetic than the stripper turned Oscar winner.   Operative word, Maybe

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February 25, 2008 Posted by | Awards Shows, Oscars | Leave a comment

And the Oscar Goes to…

So it’s my favorite night of the year and it’s coming to an end.  For me at least, for all those fools that won some big award it’s only just begun.  That’s right, on my way home from my friend’s house, I passed many men and women in fancy attire sliding glamorously out of black SUVs.  I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, it’s the weirdest thing to live in L.A. on Oscar Night.  Really it’s the weirdest thing to live in Hollywood.  

So here’s how my day went.  I got to work at like 8:30 (I traded shifts so I could get off in time to watch the ceremony).  Starting at about 8:35 the celebs started to pour into the bookstore.  John Waters, Randy Quaid, the guy nominated for best animated short, all milling around booksoup looking for books to read in the three hour limo line they have to wait in before getting out on the red carpet.  
Well, needless to say I was antsy and when 4:30 rolled around, I got my pizza and my beer and headed over to my friend Dan’s house to enjoy the festivities.  It must be said that Dan lives on Sunset and La Brea, the Oscars are on Hollywood and Highland.  Basically, he lives about three blocks away.  So as I was driving to his house I saw the good year blimp, a few dozen helicopters an lights lights lights.  
I also said this last year, but what I really love about the Academy Awards is that they remind me of why I love film so much.  This year, being the 80th Anniversary there were film clips of all the actors, actresses, directors and best pictures that came before these 80th ones.  These were my cry moments.  Watching Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, etc. in their moment of Oscar glory definitely brought more than one tear to my eye.  I thought that those video tributes were great.  
Before I go into highlights I must say that in the days leading up to Oscar I’d been talking with people about how excited I was, many of these people either work in the industry or want to work in the industry (i.e. they are writers who haven’t written anything…or anything good).  And there was one, rather appalling, trait these people had in common.  They all seem to disdain the Academy Awards.  Now this actually seems to permeate throughout many of the people I’ve met who work in and around Hollywood (not the city).  A lot of people who work in the industry seem to fucking hate movies.  Maybe they just like to put on a front, maybe they’re jealous, I don’t know, but I think that a love of film is a must for people who work in film.  Just my opinion, feel free to disagree.  Many of the people that I know hated almost every film that came out this year.  They hated No Country, they hated Juno, they hated There Will Be Blood, and I don’t care what you think of the actual story, but these are great films, they are indicative of great filmmaking.  I mean, whether or not you liked Juno, it combines excellent acting, an excellent script, and excellent direction.  Same goes for No Country For Old Men.  Same goes for Charlie Wilson’s War.  They are all great movies, it’s okay if you don’t like them.  I just never seem to get over the shock that so many people that work in or want to work in a certain industry would find such disdain for very talented people.  
Now the other thing that people were saying about the Academy Awards is that they are self-congratulatory bullshit.  Um, hello, it’s true.  But they are fun to watch.  I guess I have a problem with this too though.   I mean, this is essentially the film industry giving awards to excellence in film.  They also do this in literature, you may have heard of the Pulitzer or the Booker Prize.  So what, because it’s film it’s self-congratulatory.  Because people have more interest in seeing stars than in seeing Denis Johnson, the Oscars are not worth watching.  I’m sorry folks but that’s just the society we live in.  We all love watching the stars, we love watching them in their moment of Oscar Glory (and if you think about it there are only 4 acting awards so why are people so hot and bothered about actors patting each other on the back…actors are a small percentage of the people who vote for the Oscars).  I’m sorry, but again I have no patience.  The Oscars are a tradition, they’ve been around for 80 years now.  Just like teaching awards or world series champions, Oscar winners are (according to the Academy) the best in their profession, it just so happens that people like to watch these awards shows…and really is it surprising that the Awards show for Entertainment is Entertaining. That’s what I thought.
Now, on with the show.  Jon Stewart was amazing and hilarious and political, but not too political.  His joke about whenever a Black man or a Woman is President an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty, hilarious.  He brought up the writer’s strike, but didn’t alienate anyone, ehem producers, and welcomed everyone to enjoy Oscar night as the proverbial make up sex (though I’m sure later tonight there will be some not-so-proverbial make-up sex).  Katherine Heigel looked amazing, but shouldn’t have been there.  Amy Adams sang beautifully.  Kristen Chenoweth also sang beautifully and I love her so much, she’s so cute, but it was hard for me to watch her sing a Steven Schwartz song that wasn’t from Wicked, but oh well.  
The big upset of the night was Tilda Swinton winning Best Supporting Actress, which even I didn’t see coming.  I was pretty certain they would give it to Amy Ryan or Ruby Dee.  That being said Michael Clayton was the one movie I didn’t see this year so I can’t really talk.  In all honesty, I had the chance, I just didn’t quite care to see it.  
Some highlights of the best moments of the night.  When Marion Cotillard won I was super freaking excited, and, if you saw the looks on all the female actresses faces, they all thought she should’ve won too.  And it’s true.  I finally saw Away From Her last week.  Julie Christie was great, Marion was better.  She absolutely transformed herself.  It’s kind of crazy.  So anyway, exciting.  I loved that Dario Marianelli won for his Atonement score.  The movie is worth watching just for the score and the 5 minute plus oneshot that takes place on the beach in Dunkirk (not to mention it’s kind of good).  I loved that Helen Mirren ‘Knighted’ Daniel Day-Lewis when he won his Best Picture Oscar.  Of course I cried alot when Diablo Cody won.  And let’s take a moment for the poetry here.  The Academy is made up mainly of white men who are older than God.  Diablo Cody used to masturbate in front of people for money.  Thank you very much that’s called beauty.
Also, I love that they kept cutting to Laura Linney whenever a moving moment was happening.  What was that about?  I guess everyone else in the audience had botoxed beforehand so they didn’t have any expressions?  
I was definitely excited, but not shocked that Javier Bardem and Daniel Day-Lewis won.  Really, no one could touch them in this race, they were too good.  I also loved that the Coens were finally paid their dues.  They took home three Oscars.  Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.  I’m sorry, they deserved it.  That movie was fantastic.  I also would like to add that I thought it was really cool that Cormac McCarthy was there.  If you don’t know, he’s normally a recluse.  But apparently he’s only a recluse when not going to the Oscars or the Oprah Winfrey Show, which, in a weird way, I totally respect.  
I loved that they let the lady who one for best song from Once back on the stage after they played her off.  I thought it was really classy of the Academy to let her make her little speech.  I mean, for many people you only win one so you’ve got to grab your moment. 
The most interesting moment to me was in the Best Picture category when Mr. Rudin who is generally known in Hollywood to be completely nuts came off as a really nice guy.  Apparently he’s a nice guy in his personal life, but there are stories of throwing laptops at assistants heads, leaving assistants on the side of the highway and saying you’re fired, walk home, etc. etc.  I always find it fascinating how people can have such a dual personality (this seems especially true in Hollywood).  
All in all it was a great Oscar ceremony.  My only disappointment was that Persepolis lost the Best Animated Feature category. It was amazing and so much better than Ratatouille (yes, I said it).  I loved watching the film actors try and fail to read off of a teleprompter.  I loved watching Diablo have her moment (I’d be lying if I said I always think that maybe someday I’ll have my moment up there on that stage).  Once again, I was reminded of why I love film.  It’s the moments where we truly celebrate how great this particular art can be.  So until next year remember, We’ll Always Have Paris, Good Night and Good Luck, Here’s Looking at You Kid, Hello Gorgeous, I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille, I’m Finished.  And if you didn’t like the Oscars then all I can say is Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. 
Peace, Love, and Little Naked Gold Men (who weigh a lot), 
Julia

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Awards Shows, Coen Brothers, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Music, Oprah Winfrey, Oscars, Parties | 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

Now this is a Story all about How….

Sorry ’90’s kids, I just got that stuck in your head.  And for those of you who aren’t ’90’s kids, well you missed out.  Don’t worry, you will find out the top 1.5 movies of Julia’s favorites, but I’ve been pondering weak and weary on this subject for a few weeks now and thought I’d let you in on the crazy wanderings of my freakish mind.

It all started one day with a little R.E.M. song called ‘Losing My Religion.’  I was driving to Booksoup and Losing my Religion came on the radio.  Suddenly, goosebumps sprang up all over my body.  Now, this is something that is not all that uncommon.  It happens during great scenes in movies (in fact, that ‘I too can command the winds sir’ speech in the trailer for the new Elizabeth movie gets me good), it happens during great scenes in T.V. (the Ross and Rachel break up in Friends gets me good), and it happens especially in great theater, I erupt in goosebumps at least five separate times while watching Les Mis, and Rent, well, it’s embarrassing.  But it’s never really happened during a song I’ve heard eighty million times, and one that’s not connected to some sort of story line.  My mind had been sort of orbiting around a concept, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on it, until that exact moment.  The moment R.E.M. gave me goosebumps, it all slammed together in my head.  I think that ’90’s kids (a.k.a. Kids who grew up in the ’90’s so were born in the early ’80’s) have it made.  We’ve got the best deal.  I mean, we grew up at a time that had the best of everything. 

Think about this.  We are young enough to remember Bush the 1st and we were born when Reagan was president, but the president we truly remember throughout our childhood was Clinton.  We grew up when health consciousness was strong, but not crazy like it is now.  I mean, we didn’t have atkins or south beach when I was a kid.  You just ate your veggies and your parents kicked you out of the house to play after school.  We grew up before the great germophobia happened.  I mean, most kids today are weak and sickly because their parents are constantly squirting that anti-bacterial shit on their hands.  I ate dirt.  I fell out of trees.  I broke toes like they were going out of style.  And now I’m sick maybe once a year, if that (and last time I was sick it was food poisoning).  I mean, we had the good cartoons, we had the good music, we had the good movies, we got to see what a real president is like.  That’s right, I’m going out on a limb and saying it.  The 1990’s was the best time to be a kid (and a young adult)…and here’s why…

Like I said, we had the best cartoons.  Now those of you that grew up in the Looney Tunes era may fight me on this, but trust me, ours were better.  See we had the Looney Tunes.  We got to see Bugs and Daffy and Road Runner and Coyote, but we were also born into the Era of Nicktoons.  That’s right those of you younger than I.  I remember when Nickelodeon first came on the air.  I remember the advertising for Nicktoons (before they ever aired) and best of all, I remember the delightful sunday mornings (that’s right SUNDAY mornings) when I sat and watched Nicktoons.  Some of you, I’m sure, are wondering, what the hell is she talking about nicktoons, what are Nicktoons?  Ah, yes.  Well, Nicktoons gave us gems like Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, Doug, Aaah! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Hey Arnold.  These were truly great cartoons.  I mean, sure Spongebob Squarepants is great, but he’s got nothing on Ickis, Oblena and Krumm from Real Monsters.  We also had the non-Nicktoons, that were awesome.  I mean, when I got home from school there were Animaniacs with Pinky and the Brain, there was Batman the Animated series, there were Gargoyles.  It was a good time for cartoons.  Plus, as we grew up, we got the good adult cartoons.  I mean, we were around when the simpsons started (and was great), but we also got Beavis and Butthead (the music video portion is still, arguably, the best critique on music video to date), we had Aeon Flux (please don’t watch the film, it’s horrible and nothing like the cartoon), and my personal favorite (also my halloween costume this year) Daria, who came from Beavis and Butthead and got her own show.  Basically, Daria was me in high school.  She hated everyone, she was smart so everyone hated her, and she just wanted to get the hell out of there, but she was super witty and awesome and I love her.  I was also in love with her best friends brother, Trent.  Trent is the only cartoon I’d ever consider sleeping with.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he sparked my own sexual awakening…is that wrong?

So that settles it then, ’90’s kids had the best cartoons.  But it wasn’t just cartoons, we had the best television in general.  When I got home after school, I watched Blossom.  Who can forget the beautiful denim hats with a huge flower on the top (pre-sex and the city huge flower accessory, hmmm, wonder where they got that idea from?).  Plus, Blossom always talked about the real issues, her boyfriend hit her in one episode, her brother was a recovering drug addict.  These were real issues, it wasn’t that ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘My Three Sons’, ‘Brady Bunch’ kind of crap.   When I got home after school, I watched Full House, the Fresh Prince (the theme song is the beginning of this email, and everyone my age can sing the entire thing.  Don’t ask unless you really want to hear the whole song, but I will sing it for you) and Family Matters, sure they didn’t deal with issues (not big ones anyway), but they were great for their time.  The early ’90’s was the hey day of TGIF.  For those of you who don’t know, this was the ABC friday night extravaganza.  When I was 11, this was the thing to do on Saturday night.  This is when Full House would air new episodes, but it was also home to Boy Meets World, Mr. Belvedere, Step by Step, Family Matters (remember steve urkel), and eventually Sabrina the Teenage Witch (oh, Melissa Joan Hart, please come back to work).  And by the mid-’90’s Friday night was X-files night.  I mean, what other generation can claim that these were the shows we grew up with.  Of course, I’m leaving out the golden two and I’ll get to those now.  These were the shows that every single person my age knows.  Even if you didn’t watch these shows, you couldn’t really escape them. 

Drum roll please (they get their own paragraph).  They were Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210.  Oh, my little ’90’s girl heart still gets all twittery when I think about Zach Morris (I was a Zach girl), Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh.  I scratch what I said about Trent the Cartoon being my sexual awakening…Luke Perry with his James Dean haircut and that rocking Porsche was the real moment I first said, ‘Woah!’  I still, to this day, want a porsche or a mustang because that’s what Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh drove, respectively.  I don’t know if that’s great product placement, or a symbol of how imprinted those fictional characters are on my soul.  Storytelling, be it books, movies, music or television, has always been my kind of religion.  I go to these media for solace, to feel less alone, to experience things I have never and may never experience.  And 90210 was my first foray into the Television aspect of storytelling.  It was my first television addiction, the first show I couldn’t miss.  And even though I started watching it in the third grade, all my friends were exactly the same.  It was our version of water cooler chatting, we had the swingset chats about Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, Donna, Steve and David.  Sometimes Emily Valentine.  And eventually Valerie Malone.  Oh yes, Tiffany Amber-Thiessen was the goddess of the early ’90’s.  On a side note, she came into the bookstore once and I got so excited my palms started sweating.  I mean, she was Kelly Kapowski, the good girl who loved Zach (who didn’t?) on Saved by the Bell, and then was Valerie Malone, the resident bitch after Brenda left on 90210.  And what a beautiful reign it was.  Saved by the Bell, though super entertaining now, was the show that everybody watched.  We watched it on Saturday mornings like we were at temple.  And boy did we love it.  The thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that ’90’s kids still know the plot lines.  And I don’t mean big plotlines like Who shot J.R.?   I mean like the stupid little, only happened briefly in one episode plot lines.  We still quote it.  Saying ‘I’m so excited’ to a ’90’s kid does not, in our minds, end with, ‘and I just can’t hide it.’  No no.  It ends with ‘I’m so excited.  I’m so excited.  I’m so scared,’ from the episode where Jessie gets addicted to caffiene pills (becuase they couldn’t use real drug references on the show).  We remember the words to the music video Zach, Slater and Screech were in.  These were shows that had an impact on the whole of the youth of the ’90’s.  Like I said earlier, even if you didn’t watch them, you still knew them…you still know them.

Now, it’s a little bit harder to argue the movie aspect, because, in truth, ’80’s movies are hard to compete with, as are the classics, but the ’90’s were a renaissance in film.  I mean sure there are iconic movies in every decade, but usually they are iconic of that decade.  Movies like Valley Girl or  are iconic of the ’80’s but a lot of people I know have never seen it.  Just as the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies are iconic of the the late ’50’s/early ’60’s.  Sure we all know this, but really, when’s the last time you popped in Pillow Talk?  Basically, what I’m saying is that there are certain periods when a whole mess of movies come out that become iconic.  And they seem to come out around the same time.  The late ’30’s/early ’40’s saw ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and ‘Casablanca’ (among others).  The Late ’60’s/early ’70’s saw ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Easy Rider,’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’  The ’80’s had John Hughes movies and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’  The ’90’s had ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Titanic,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Ghost.’  And in the ’90’s there was a distinct shift within the business of making movies.  Because in the ’90’s we were introduced to the concept of the Independent Movie.  Nowadays we take this for granted, but sometime when you’re bored go on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website and look up past oscar winners.  Now, I’m not saying that any of these movies were bad, but before about 1994 movies were nominated based on their box office appeal moreso than their actual status as great movies.  I mean, Chariots of Fire won over On Golden Pond and Reds.  This all changed in 1994.  Now, I’m not saying that the Academy doesn’t still pick blockbuster movies, but times are definitely a-changing.  I didn’t just pull the date 1994 out of my ass; a very important thing happened in 1994: PULP FICTION hit the ground running in 1994, and it completely changed the face of film.  Bob and Harvey Weinstein became underdog heroes for financing and distributing this movie (and they were very daring to allow Tarantino final cut on the movie…that would never happen now).  Pulp Fiction opened the flood gates and by the late ’90’s independent movies took up 2 or 3 of the five best picture nominees (in 2005 all the films nominated for best picture were independent films).  Now I would never ever say that The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, or any other indy movie of the ’90’s are better than other decades movies (in fact, many of the indy movies blatantly steal from older movies…think American Beauty with Sunset Boulevard), but I’m just saying we’re a pretty lucky crew, us ’90’s kids.  I mean sure, we had Titanic (the highest grossing movie of all time.  Please, we all saw it in the theater multiple times), but we also were privy to a revolution where talent and quality filmmaking won out over box office success. 

Now one area where I think we ’90’s kids lost is in literature.  There are some notable exceptions: My favorite book of all time, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,’  for instance.  We also had Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, and John Krakauer, but really there are few notable, will last for a long time, kind of books that came out in the ’90’s, the first few Harry Potter books are a giant exception, but we’ll see how their staying power is.

The penultimate category I’m going to cover is other crap.  In other words, all the little things.  As I mentioned earlier, my mother never had antibacterial purel stuff, and it is my opinion that I’m all the healthier for it.  Now, I have no facts to back this up, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I mean I bled for hours from my nose before my mother took me to the emergency room for them to tell me I had fractured it, and maybe that was irresponsibile, but I thank my mother for doing that because it made me tough and strong and independent, perhaps to a fault.  And maybe that example is strictly personal, but it seems that with this, as Barry Glassner calls it, ‘Culture of Fear’ that we live in, it’s getting harder and harder to steer away from overprotectiveness and irrational fear.  But it’s not just this other crap…I’m taking the plunge, I’m saying it.  We had the most awesome toys of any generation.  Now, hear me out.  We had all the soon to be confiscated toys: Slap Bracelets, Pogs, etc.  We had the Bedazzler, we are just old enough to have puffy painted our keds and to have worn gigantic shirts and tied them at the side with that plastic dohickey (or for those of us who didn’t have the puffy painted plastic dohickey, we tied our shirts with scrunchies).  There are embarrassing picutres of us with crimped hair, but we were not old enough (or long enough in the ’80’s) to have done anything crazy embarrassing, like dress like madonna in everyday life, or have an actual flock of seagulls haircut.  Sure we wore overalls with one strap unhooked and our backpacks over just one shoulder, but I never wore a polyester jumpsuit or a turqoise puffy sleeved prom dress with a side pony tail.  So I’ll give you the fact that I wore ripped jeans, doc martens, and flannel shirts (I’m wearing one right now actually), but ’90’s fashions were never, and I mean never, as embarrassing as ’80’s fashions or disco fashions.  Yes, once again we ’90’s kids scored.

So I’m going to round out this tome with the subject that started it all:  MUSIC.  Yes, music is the glue of the ’90’s kids world.  Because we, like the generations before us, but unfortunately not the generation after us, were blessed to grow up with great music.  We started life Like a Virgin with Madonna, and by the time we were growing into our own muscial tastes we had a spectrum to choose from.  Guns N Roses was the band of 1990/1991 (and anyone who doesn’t love Appetite for Destruction, I can no longer talk to) but my first real love was actually hip hop.  I know, I know, the past 12 years of my life have been dedicated, almost exclusively, to rock of all kinds, but I was a street little 10 year old and I loved Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle (of course, I was too young to know what either of those titles meant).  Plus, we had the whole, T.V. music tie in on one of my favorite episodes of 90210, when Brenda, David and Donna go to a hotel and meet Color Me Badd.  Oh yes, it still gives me shivers.  I always laugh when I think of the fact that I was 10 and singing ‘I wanna sex you up’ at the top of my lungs.  And, of course, let’s not leave out Boyz II Men (abcbbd) and the Motownphilly.  But the end of my hip hop road came along with a blonde guy from seattle named Kurt Cobain.  Yes, we ’90’s kids not only saw the birth of hip hop, we also saw the birth (and death) of grunge.  We were the grunge kids, dancing in the mosh pit, coming as we were, we smelled like teen spirit.  But only for a few years, before we were crushed by Kurt’s death.  I still remember that day as one of the worst of my life.  It was the first celebrity death I ever cried at (the only other was Joey Ramone).  But Kurt brought out the whole seattle scene.  I mean, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, it was just a great time for music.  And even the poppy crap was still good.  Smashmouth, Blink 182 (the early stuff), Sugar Ray, I mean, who didn’t just want to fly in 1998.  Plus, we had Sublime, Weezer, No Doubt (circa Tragic Kingdom), Bush (god I loved Gavin Rosdale), the Sneaker Pimps, Porno for Pyros, it was just a great time for music.  The likes of which can only be compared to the late 60s/early 70s.  And because we weren’t involved in anything like Vietnam, our music of the ’90s was about society and how messed up it was/is.  We didn’t have to protest a stupid war back then, so we could focus on ourselves, on our problems.

And that is why being a ’90s kid is the best thing ever. 

Peace, love, and Yo homes smell you later, I’m off to sit on my throne as the prince of bel-air,

Julia

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Books, Hollywood, John Hughes, Movies, Music, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, Sex and the City, Television | 1 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

I’d Like to Thank the Academy

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year.  That’s right folks, it’s
better than Christmas, it’s better than my birthday, it’s better than
the one day off I get every two months.  Yesterday, for those of you
living in a cave, was Oscar Sunday.

Now the truly surreal experience about living in Hollywood is that on
your way to watching the oscars you actually get stuck in the traffic
of people going to the oscars.  As I was leaving work in West
Hollywood and going to my friends house in Santa Monica, I made the
descision to avoid Sunset (as it’s usually backed up, and it takes you
to Pacific Pallisades rather than Santa Monica.  So, I thought, I’ll
take Santa Monica Blvd.  Big Mistake.  You see, all the Oscar parties
(including the illustrious Vanity Fair party) are in West Hollywood,
just south of Santa Monica Blvd. and they closed all the streets
running north/south.  Even still, this couldn’t break me from my oscar
high.  And as I was crawling through streets of West Hollywood I
couldn’t help but notice the line of Limos crawling eastward…making
their way to the oscars.

I finally made it to my friends house where we gorged on chips,
crackers, and other goodies and drank the champagne of beers (Miller
High Life)…it was after all a day for celebration.  We critiqued the
Oscar fashion (our consensus was that Reese Witherspoon was the best
dressed, and looked absolutely divine with her new post-breakup body.

As we were discussing the Oscars I realized (much to my relief) that I
was not the only one who has practiced their Oscar acceptance speech.
That’s right, I’ve practiced it.  And I decided last night that I’d
like to win at the 100th Annual Academy Awards.  Last night was the
79th so we’ll see.

So I’m guessing you’re waiting for me to Cut to the Chase.  And here I
go.  The ceremony itself was great.  Ellen DeGeneres is a goddess.
She was funny, charming, and not too political.  Though her joke about
how America didn’t vote for Jennifer Hudson (on American Idol) and she
was nominated, but America did vote for Al Gore and he was nominated,
was the greatest thing I’d ever witnessed on Oscar night.  So go Ellen
for being (I hope) the new Billy Crystal.  In other words, please
academy members, please have Ellen host again and again.  (And her
‘without gays, jews and minorities this industry/awards show wouldn’t
exist’ was simply fabulous).

Before I recap and critique all the great moments I have to take a
second to talk about Al Gore at the Academy Awards.  First of all, I’d
like to just say this, Al Gore won an Oscar.  Feels kinda nice,
doesn’t it?  He won a freaking Oscar.  The best scripted moment of the
night was when Leo and Al Gore went up to talk a little about Global
Warming and what we can do and how the Oscar show ‘went green.’  Leo
kept asking Al if there was anything he wanted to announce (wink,
wink, nudge, nudge) and Al starts his ‘My fellow Americans’ I’m going
to run for president speech.  The genius was that he held on just long
enough where I was like ‘oh my god, he’s going to run’  and
then……..the band played him off.  What a great moment.

Okay, so on to the recaps.  The big upset of course was Alan Arkin
winning over Eddie Murphy in the Best Supporting Actor category.  My
thoughts are that Alan Arkin gave an Academy Award worthy performance
in Little Miss Sunshine and Eddie Murphy gave a great performance in
Dreamgirls.  Notice the absence of Academy Award worthy.  Eddie Murphy
was great, and yes, this is the only time he’ll probably ever be
nominated, but he still wasn’t academy award worthy.  And God love the
academy for recognizing that.

My girl J. Hud.  Jennifer Hudson took the Best Supporting Actress (for
her lead role in Dreamgirls).  Here’s the thing.  I’m glad she won, I
really am.  She was great.  But I’m pretty sure that’s the end of the
road for her acting career.  We always say, you shouldn’t win an oscar
in your first big performance.  So as sad as I am to say it I’m glad
Abagail Breslin didn’t win because she’ll go on to do other good stuff
(and already has in her guest spot on Grey’s Anatomy where she
completely ripped out my cold cold heart).

Of course, Helen Mirren took home the award she so deserved.  She was
absolutely fantastic in The Queen and she evoked so much while playing
such a stoic character.  It was just an astonishingly good movie.
And, as my friend so eloquently put it, she was the reason that it
didn’t feel like a made for T.V. movie.

I’m coining a new term for Hollywood.  It’s called the Titanic curse
and it seems to only effect Kate and Leo.  Kate and Leo have each been
nominated 4 or 5 times and neither has ever won.  Now, they are both
young and I have no doubt that they both will win because they are
great actors, but it’s always amazing to me how often they’ve been
nominated without a win between them.  Last night Kate was nominated
for Best Actress for the movie Little Children (which she deserved the
nomination for, but not the win).  Leo was nominated for Blood Diamond
(he should have been nominated and not won for the Departed because he
was much better in that).

Of course the Best Actor award went to a guy who started off at
Ridgemont High School (along with Sean Penn, Nick Cage, and Jennifer
Jason Leigh).  My man Forrest Whitaker won for the Last King of
Scotland.  This was one of the best performances I’ve seen in a very
long time.  He was so charming and you just loved him so much and
slowly you saw what an evil tyrant he was.  I really have no words to
describe it, but, in the immortal words of Wayne and Garth ‘We’re not
worthy.’

Before getting to the big Four (best director, best picture and the
two best screenplays) I also want to just say how much I love Meryl
Streep.  When introducing the costume design award Anne Hathaway and
Emily Blunt from The Devil Wears Prada, did a little funny bit about
getting Meryl’s cappuccino.  The camera cuts to Meryl who is doing her
Miranda Preistly face and it was just fabulous.  She’s a goddess and I
hope when I die I come back as Meryl Streep.

Okay, I see you shiver with Antici……..say it……………pation.
 My big cry moment came pretty expectedly at the end of the ceremony.
In a prescient, can we call it a casting choice, the academy had Geoge
Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola present the best
Director award.  And FINALLY after eight nominations, for which he
should have won most of them, they gave Martin Scorcese his very first
Oscar.  Now, when a little Italian man with more energy than a race
horse wins, I get excited.  But when one of my all time favorite
directors, who looks amazingly like my little Italian grandfather,
gets up to accept his first Oscar and is about as excited as a kid on
Christmas, I loose it.  Oh, there were tears.  Tears of joy because he
is so cute and such a lovely guy and even though they went an hour
late, they didn’t play Marty off the stage during his big moment.  I
loved him.  I love him.  He needs to win many many more.

The biggest surprise of the night was, of course, the Best Picture.
And really, this was the one category where it wasn’t wrapped up.  It
wasn’t even between two.  All the movies (except for Babel) deserved
to win because they were all amazing.  But in all honesty I didn’t
expect the Departed to win.  I was sure it was going to be Little Miss
Sunshine (which I was hoping for) or Babel (even though I hated it,
the academy gets off on pretentious bullshit posing as a ‘deep’
movie).  You know what though?  I really would have been happy with
anything that wasn’t Babel winning, so I came out unscathed.

The funny thing is that a bunch of film people watching oscars is like
a bunch of frat boys watching football.  We cheered and hooted and
rooted for the touchdown.  It was highly entertaining.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  The most important
awards of the night. Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted
Screenplay.  And they were both great.

So the Best Original screenplay went to Michael Arendt (who I just met
when he did a signing at my work) for Little Miss Sunshine.  He was
fabulous, funny,  little heartbreaking, and he totally deserved to win
because that was the most original script that has come out of
Hollywood in a very very long time.  And mad props to Fox Searchlight
for doing something right and paying $5 Million for the movie after it
was screened at Sundance.

And of course William Monahan won for the Departed.  Adapted from the
Hong Kong film and transferred to be the Irish Mob in Boston.  Even
though I had problems with the ending The Departed was a great movie
and the first movie set in Boston to really make use the Dropkick
Murphys, who are THE Boston band.  In any case, the script was great
and Monahan was a delight to watch.

I also have to note that I loved the moment where Jack Black and Will
Ferrell sang about not being recognized at the academy awards because
they were comedians.  Then John C. Reilly stands up and starts singing
about how he was in both Boogie and Talladega Nights.  It was just
great.

But the thing about the Oscars that I realize every year is that they
give me that magical feeling that movies give people.  They play all
the music from all the movies that you love.  And even though those
montages can get a little tedious, I still love seeing the clips and
recognizing what each movies is and whining ‘I love that movie’ over
and over again.

As they were rolling credits and shooting the chaos that I was not
looking forward to driving through as I made my way back home they
began playing the music to Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Good,
the Bad and The Ugly, among others, and it was then, at the end of the
ceremony that I realized why I love the Oscars so much.  It’s because
the Oscars make me remember why I love movies.  In this business that
is so crazy and can be so dissappointing and that sometimes makes me
think that I should just be a lawyer or do something easy like that,
the Oscars make me remember why I love the movies and why I want to
help make them.  They make me fall in love with Rhett, the let me know
I’ll always have Paris and every year on oscar night I follow the
yellow brick road all over again.

I hope you all tuned in and I’ll let you know when I’m nominated…I
can’t promise not to cry at my acceptance speech though.

Peace, love, and great movies,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Oscars | Leave a comment

My Biggest Secret

Ok,
So this is what happens when I have more than an eight hour period
where I’m not working and that period doesn’t have to contain some
number of hours of sleep.  I’m letting you all in on one of my deep
dark secrets.

So when people first meet me, before they get to know me, as you all
do, I apparently come off as a complete bitch.  This may have
something to do with my extreme shyness (thank you mom) which wears
off when I start to get comfortable (thank you dad).

Now, I’m not the kind of person that cries during a movie.  There
aren’t many that bring me to tears and for t.v. it’s even worse.
Grey’s Anatomy is the only show in the past god knows how many years
to make me cry on a regular basis.  And has, in fact, been known to,
especially with this George’s dad dying storyline, render me a totally
blubbering puddle of girl.  Last week, I actually ended up sobbing in
a fetal position on my bed, rocking myself as if someone had beat me
with a 2×4.

That being said, I actually am not brought to tears very often in a
movie, while reading a book, watching a t.v. show, anything.  Call it
unhealthy, but I don’t really like to show emotion.  I see it as a
sign of weakness.

Now the one thing that brings me to tears every single time I watch
one is the Awards show.  It doesn’t really matter what awards show,
but I always cry at awards shows.  I cried at least twice during the
Golden Globes this year.  I cried when Reese won the Academy Award
last year.  I cried at the Katherine Hepburn memorial at the Academy
Awards a few years ago.  When all the people in the audience give a
standing ovation, I really loose it.  It’s just the most embarrassing
thing ever.

Well, I’m sure none of you watched the SAG Awards last night.  (SAG =
Screen Actors Guild).  But they were last night and they were ok.  As
far as Awards shows go, they’re not the most scintillating, but I like
them.  Basically, I like SAG because the actors vote for other actors
and who better to judge than people who do the same thing for a
living.

SAG’s are unpredictable because they are the least political of all
the awards shows.  The SAG awards are based on great acting, not
wanting to get back at David Geffen or whatever politics are behind
the Oscar Nominations.

So, last night’s SAG awards, though there was no big political
speeches (as has been known to happen in the Academy Awards) had some
nice moments.  Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) calling
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), America the Beautiful was an especially
cute moment.  And Annie Hathaway helping Dick Van Dyke give Julie
Andrews the Lifetime Achievement award was a great moment.  Not to
mention, the Mary Tyler Moore Show cast getting together on stage to
give the award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Comedy (went to the Office,
all you fans) was fantastic, and standing ovation made my eyes a
little wet.  My favorite part of that is seeing all of today’s T.V.
and Movie stars completely wide-eyed and star-struck.  I love seeing
stars get star-struck, it makes them real.

Of course, my favorite moments were when Chandra Wilson (Dr. Bailey
from Grey’s Anatomy) won for Best Supporting Actress.  And of Course
the entire Grey’s Anatomy cast for Best Ensemble Drama.  See this is
where I love the SAG awards, and where the Academy Fails.  Acting is
all about the Collaboration.  And I love the Ensemble awards.

Now, the moment that really actually left me in tears was the last
award, which is for Best Ensemble in a Film.  It went to LITTLE MISS
SUNSHINE.  If you haven’t seen it, please join us in 2007 and go to
Blockbuster or put it at the number 1 spot on your Netflix Queue
because it was, in my opinion, the best film of last year.  It’s an
absolutely perfect movie.  There’s not one thing wrong with it.  But,
I know that the academy threw the film a bone by giving it
nominations, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not really going to win any
academy awards (even though it deserves them).

So yes that’s right, when they announced that as the winner, I got
choked up and teared up.

And that, my friends, is a secret not too many people know.  I’m
pretty sure I’ve been able to hide it for all these years.  Don’t you
feel special for being in the know now.

Peace, Love, and Great Acting,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Awards Shows, Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Movies, Oscars, Television | 1 Comment

I’m The Dude…So That’s What You Call Me.

Ok, so I promised a three part series on my favorite T.V. shows and
don’t worry they’re coming.  But I just finished watching Fargo for
the first time since it came to Video (yes, Video) and I just have to
talk about the Cohen Brothers, and what fucking genius’ they are.

Now, when it comes to film I’m not a snob.  I, much like Roger Ebert,
judge films on what they are.  I’m never going to compare Legally
Blonde to Taxi Driver.  Apples and Oranges people.  You just have take
films for what they are and what they are trying to achieve.  Legally
Blonde is a great movie (I can hear my mother groaning from 400 miles
away) and Taxi Driver is a great movie.  Sure, one of them is Oscar
worthy, but they are both awesome movies.  And you know what?  I don’t
always want to watch an oscar-worthy film.  I don’t always want to
watch Taxi Driver.

That being said, The Cohen Brothers appeal to each one of these
sensibilities.  When I need a serious film I, from now on, can turn to
Fargo.  Fargo is just one of those movies where everthing is perfect.
I mean the script (oscar winning I may add) is amazing, but really the
actors are what brings this movie up to what it is.  I watched the
special features on this movie and one of the actors says that it’s
just a movie about ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives.  And
Bill Macy is just brilliant at this.  He’s just trying to make money
for his family and trying to deal with his ass of a father-in-law.  He
makes some bad decisions along the way, but when it comes down to it
he’s just an ordinary man trying to live and ordinary life.

The best performance is by Frances MacDormand.  She’s just doing her
job.  She’s good at her job, but she’s just figuring out this crime.
When it’s over, she’ll move to the next one.

The supporting cast, headed by Steve Buscemi among others, fill out
the texture of the story fabulously.

It’s just a great film.

The Cohen Brothers fill out the sort of quirky, wacky comedy through
two different films.  Raising Arizona was the first.  Nick Cage and
Holly Hunter are just hilarious.  I mean, they want to be parents so
they steal a baby.  Nick’s wacky friends played by Steve Buscemi and
John Goodman are excellent comic relief and overall the film is one
that you can watch over and over.

But the Piece de la Resistance is by far The Big Lebowski (where the
subject title is from).  Okay, so I’m a little biased because my
father is The Dude.  I can just imagine him shopping for milk (for his
white russians) in a bathrobe.  The Big Lebowski is Film Noir turned
on its head.  It’s a mystery, missing person hunt, you don’t know who
works for whom, who’s good, who’s bad, but instead of Philip Marlowe
or Sam Spade we have Jeff Bridges’ The Dude and John Goodman’s Walter.
 They’re the best onscreen duo, onscreen married couple in the history
of movies.

The Big Lebowski, if you are unaware, is somewhat of a cult hit.  If
you have kids or friends in college, or know people in college, ask
them how many times a week they think that movie is played in the
dorms.  I’m sure if you went room to room you could find at least one
person watching it every night.  It’s the kind of movie that only gets
funnier and funnier every time you watch it.  There’s a million little
things Jeff does that are just hilarious.

Also, in what I think is a true stroke of Genius, the narrator (who,
in regular film noir is usually the protagonist), is Sam Elliot (go
look him up on imdb.com), who is somewhat reminiscent of the Marlboro
Man.

The Big Lebowski is the Cohen Brothers Legally Blonde, while Fargo is
their Taxi Driver.

I’ll mention briefly of course that O Brother Where Art Thou?  is a
great adaptation of the Odyssey, but I think that this comparison
rates an entire email rant.

And there are a few that I haven’t seen: Barton Fink and Blood Simple
to name a few.

But I must build anticipation for what, in my opinion, should be the
next great Cohen Brothers film.  They are in the middle of shooting
(for Paramount Pictures) a movie based on the book by Cormac
MacCarthy, No Country for Old Men.  It’s a great book and I must say
that I can’t think of anyone more perfect for this movie than the
Cohen Brothers.

Not only does it have the kind of Fargo feel where ordinary people are
trying to live ordinary lives, but it involves quite a manhunt in a
very Big Lebowski type scenario.  I can think of nothing more perfect
than the Cohen Brothers making a movie that will, hopefully, combine
the best elements of two of their best movies.

Also, this film, like all the Cohen Brothers movies, has excellent
casting choices.  In fact, I’m going to make a bold statement and say
that casting is where the Cohen Brothers excel the most.  Sure, they
write amazing scripts, and the composition of thier frames is
stunningly beautiful (especially in Fargo), but where the Cohen
Brothers succeed in every single one of their films is in the fact
that they cast the right people.  They cast actors who know a role and
are comfortable in their ability to act so they all fully fill out
thier roles.

So here’s to you Joel and Ethan Cohen.  Thank you for redefining the
genres we already know so well, and here’s to creating new ones.

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Coen Brothers, Hollywood, Movies, Oscars, The Big Lebowski | Leave a comment