Greatest of All Time: Jessica Lange (A Film Marathon)

jl

Jessica Lange goes down as one of the greatest of all time in my book. If I were an aspiring actor, she’s the one I’d study, emulate and hope to work with one day so she can make me cry on film. Aspiring actor or not, I would still jump at the opportunity to sit at her feet and listen to her talk about acting and life both in the industry and just in her shoes. I fell in love with Lange’s work on the television anthology, American Horror Story. This monologue in particular:

Her ageless beauty! The way she paces the dialogue! The way she breathes! Legendary.

Jessica Lange has crafted a prolific career in film, theater and television. As a young actor in 1970, she ran away from college and moved to Paris, where she studied mime. (One of my favorite fun facts about her.) Clearly, her career has only gone up since then. Lange won her first Golden Globe in her film debut, the 1976 King Kong and most recently, her third Emmy for Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries, a third Dorian Award and her first Critics’ Choice Television award for her work on American Horror Story in 2013. In 2014, Marc Jacobs chose her to be the premiere model of his new high-end beauty line, Marc Jacobs Beauty. She absolutely shut down the notion that an actress loses her staying power as she ages.

Although I’m very familiar with Lange’s work on American Horror Story, I realized I haven’t seen many of her films and decided The Marathon Stars Blogathon would be the perfect opportunity. What better way to appreciate and honor the woman I consider the Modern Queen of the Monologue? I thought it’d also be fun to see the steps she took in order to be where she is in her career, repeatedly nominated, honored countlessly and widely regarded as one of the greatest ever.

Continue reading

Advertisements

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

a-girl-walks-home-alone-cover-poster-672x372

If you’re looking for a break from commercial popcorn movies with cardboard cutouts masquerading as characters and “horror” as defined by a ridiculous body count then A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the film for you. It’s an Iranian vampire film shot in gorgeous black and white and entirely in Farsi. The story unfolds in a fictional Iranian ghost town overrun by drugs, corruption and a young, female vampire who listens to brooding music on her record player and skateboards around town when she isn’t sinking her fangs into junkies, pimps and bums.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is of the soft horror variety with blood, gore and death, but not to an excessive extent. The film focuses primarily on its characters, seamlessly weaving their lives together. With popular culture’s obsession with the vampire, it can become cliché, expected and boring. This take on the vampire is a simple yet intriguing one. She’s a creature driven by instinct, comfortable with living a solitary life, but also curious about humans and humanity and the lives they live. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night doesn’t elevate the vampire character type in a way that will forever change the trope, but it does explore the life of a vampire in a way other movies have not. The film has such a different, specific point-of-view and such a careful hand in its execution that it makes one of the oldest myths in history feel fresh.

Music makes or breaks a movie and this is especially true for the horror genre. Director Ana Lily Amipour uses a range of music from multiple genres in multiple ways — pieces of music specific to the characters, to set the mood of a particular scene and to guide the narrative. A scene where the two leads meet for only the second time and share such intimate space set to “Death” by White Lies is, in my opinion at least, one of the most beautiful moments ever filmed.

Beauty emerges from its simplicity. They take the time to build this connection between these two characters, something that means so much in a film filled with such stark instances of isolation, where a character’s only companion is their loneliness, and they do it without saying a single word. It’s electrically charged and fascinating to watch, a testament to the perfect combination of choice in music and acting ability. Creating tension by manipulating silence, moving in just the right way at just the right time and even controlling their breathing is such an important skill set for actors to have and these two do it in a way that feels natural and effortless. All of that comes together in this unexpected, almost romantic moment.

Although A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has instances of brilliance and perfectly played scenes, it isn’t perfect. The film is slow, almost painfully so in the beginning, but it picks up once the lives of the characters begin to collide. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is unlike any other vampire movie with its memorable style build on exceptional lighting and exaggerated shadows, definitely worth watching.

Watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night now streaming on Netflix.

In CinemaScope: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

This is my contribution to the CinemaScope Blogathon hosted by Classic Becky’s Brain Food and Wide Screen World. Be sure to check out the other posts exploring an early 1950s’ technical innovation that changed the moviegoing experience by dramatically widened the image, creating new aesthetic issues and opportunities for filmmakers.

cinescope-blogathon

Musicals are an irresistible slice of escapism. Sitting down with an Old Hollywood musical, surrendering to the glamorous costumes, minimal yet lavishing set design and characters spontaneously expressing themselves through song and dance is the closest thing to time travel available today. As a child who spent majority of the ‘90s alternating between musicals and Classic Disney animated features (all on VHS) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to discuss one of my childhood favorites. Not only is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) shot and shown in CinemaScope, but is also enduringly endearing and completely crazy.

Continue reading

Girltrash: All Night Long

For Kels. Years after I said I’d write this. The things I do for friends.

Screen shot 2014-09-13 at 10.02.13 PM (2)

Have you ever watched Snack-Off on MTV? It’s basically a parody of every serious food competition. Instead of having professional chefs compete they have amateurs who make you doubt their life skills along with their cooking skills in the interview packages. Instead of using only the freshest ingredients, Snack-Off provides a pantry of processed junk real chefs whine about on Chopped. A comedian, a supermodel and one real chef serve as the panel of judges. As I’m watching this or rather, letting it play in the background as I work on other things, I can’t help, but feel bad for the one chef who works in and owns actual restaurants. He cringes at the crap put in front of him and even admitted to getting notes from the producers saying he’s too mean when judging. But then there are times where he takes a bite and he smiles a little and begrudgingly says it’s actually tasty even though he has no earthly idea why.

And that is how I feel about GirltrashUp All Night. 

Screen shot 2014-09-13 at 11.32.31 PM (2)

Continue reading

Movie Log 2015

movielog

Okay, here’s the deal. I have issued myself a challenge. It’s a simple challenge, really. There are only two rules:

1) watch movies

2) keep track

For the entire year! (Then I plan to do it again next year and the year after that and so on.) Ideally, I’d like to watch one movie a day and I have so far, but I know myself well enough to avoid a setup for disaster. What better way to honor and continue developing my undying love for cinema than by watching as many movies as I possibly can? I actually keep pages and pages of handwritten notes and thoughts on every movie I see in a Moleskine because the best movies make me think about it for days after and I need to get it all out of my head. I try to keep it brief with the comments on the online log even though I can go on and on about a movie forever. I even rate each movie based on my own personal system of little gold stars.

Check out my movie log for 2015! Happy watching!