Eight days later, and I finally made it to Die Mommie Die! It's not a great film, nor does it have any illusions of being one. It's a homage to pure, unfiltered trash of the Joan Crawford/Liz Taylor/Sirk and Hudson variety. It doesn't grasp the manic highs (lows?) of John Waters or even Psycho Beach Party. The cinematography ain't exciting enough to make this required theater viewing, but you may want to see it with a group--especially one heavy with camp aficionados. For all the intentional howlers in the dialogue, the cast makes this one worthwhile: particularly, Jason Priestly as a gigolo packin' a lot of heat, Frances Conroy as a pious, strangely southern maid, and Natasha Lyonne as a good girl who loves her daddy a little too much. But Charles Busch is undeniably the star. It's the best total drag film performance since Terence Stamp in Priscilla, if not the heady days of the incomparable Divine.

Here are a few other celluloid goodies I saw over the weekend:

One Hour Photo: No matter how hard he tries, not-so-mild mannered Robin Williams will never make a credible dramatic actor. As Sy Parrish, the lonely, creepily obsessive photo lab drone, he's fine as long as he's subdued. Unfortunately, he inevitably breaks into the usual histrionics, and only reinforces how much better the film could've been with, say, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Director Mark Romanek has a real feel for the cold sterility of a modern discount department store, and little else.

Bend It Like Beckham: Not as overrated as I feared, but not much true indie spirit, either. The leads in this culture clash/girl power soccer dramedy carry the film, as does the underrated Jonathan Rhys Myers as their affable coach. Genuine uplift and a few nice periphery characters make up for the script's shortcomings and the lead's poorly underdeveloped mother, a Hindu gloss on the quirky relatives of the execrable My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I can see why a lot of people love this film; I admit it made me laugh a few times, but I'd almost rather sit through Freaky Friday again.

Cinemania: Now I no longer feel sheepish about telling people that I go out to the movies more than once a week. What could have been unbearably quirky (portraits of five extreme cinema obsessives) comes off as a fascinating docu-portrait of movie love like no other. Yes, these people are FREAKS, but we do see (if not completely comprehend) the methods to their madnesses, although I'm not sure the most casual of moviegoers will see beyond that. Of the five subjects, my favorite was the sole woman, Roberta Hill: irascible, stubborn, and practically imprisoned by her love of film (and film programs) yet obviously transformed and moved by the rare power of her obsession.

21 Grams: This movie's slower than fistful of Fassbinder films and nearly as depressing. It retreads the themes of Amores Perros a little too closely, and the nonlinear structure is irritating rather than illuminating; that is, until the accident that brings the three leads together. Fortunately, all of 'em are outstanding: Benicio Del Toro as a man tortured by his past and his religion, Sean Penn (much more deserving of an Oscar here than in Mystic River) as a man on the brink of death and spiritual rebirth, and, especially, Naomi Watts as a woman whose life is abruptly altered when the worst tragedy imaginable strikes. Watts is so damn good (of a piece with Mulholland Drive!), it's frightening. Julia and Nicole, step aside, here's the best actress of her generation.


So many grand plans, and the day is blissfully slipping away. Well, I will try to get a walk in this afternoon 'cause it's so gor-gess out, and then a late-afternoon screening of Die Mommie Die before it leaves Boston.

Saw Elephant last night and I'm conflicted. It seems as much of a stunt as Gerry, right down to the Gerry-esque video game the two killer-boyz play, and it's loaded with superfluous scenes (what the fuck is Timothy Bottoms doing there? Why does he still look like Dubya?). But, it's unforgettable. I loved all the scenes (and there are a lot of 'em) with students walking through the school's vast corridors, their backs to the camera and their surroundings rendered in soft focus. Perfectly nails the claustrophobia and mundacity of high school, and the non-linear structure is wondrous, building an almost unbearable tension. The massacre itself fluctuates between painful realism and ludricious pretension. I'm left perplexed and a little shaken, but really, did this deserve the Golden Palm at Cannes? Well, it's better than Mystic River.

We started screening short films for Chlotrudis on Thursday night. A few not quite gems amongst lotsa dross, as was expected (any film that has "fucking ass" as a line of dialogue deserves to be flung into the crapper), and it all made me appreciate how amazing "good"(competent, even) films are in comparison.


Oh, how I loathe you Blogger... I just wrote down an articulate post about how I has been bloggin' for exactly a whole year now, and you lost it. Oh well, to sum up; it's been a great first year, wasn't as proficient as I hoped, but expect more music writin' (my alternative top 100 album list! Take that, Rolling Stone!) and movie writin' (at least a haiku-length comment on every film I see) in the future. Thanks for anyone out there who has encountered or put up with this damn thing, and I wish you all sweet dreams, sans any visions of Michael Jackson's hideous, scarier-than-anything-in-The Exorcist mug shot.




Attention, Journalism professors of the world: Now you finally have something other than All The President’s Men or Absence of Malice to show to your students. This charts the outlandish but true story of Stephen Glass, a young reporter for The New Republic who was found out to have fabricated a majority of his articles. Shrewdly structured like an edge-of-your-seat thriller by first time director Billy Ray, the film is exhausting, but insightful; it’s certainly the most realistic portrayal of journalists I’ve seen in years.

As a surprise to anyone who sat through the dreadful Star Wars II: Attack of The Clones, Hayden Christensen is actually good as Glass, exuding an uncommon but appropriate mix of smarm and vulnerability, like a more subtle Eddie Haskell with tragic consequences. The key performance here, however, comes from Peter Sarsgaard as Glass’ editor, Chuck Lane. Nearly unrecognizable to anyone who only knows him from Boys Don’t Cry, he excels at what is indisputably the film’s trickiest role, as he continues to keep his cool for a tense amount of time before building to a masterfully, believably dignified eruption when Glass’ goose finally gets cooked.

Chloe Sevingy, Hank Azaria, and Steve Zahn are also fun to watch in supporting roles. And, it’s refreshing to see an entertaining thriller that doesn’t pander to its audience (no Hollywood ending here) or offer any simple psychological equations as to why Glass thought he could get away with such a scam. That he did for so long is treated fairly, with equal amounts intrigue and disgust.


If you’re wondering where have all the AIDS films gone, here’s one from Thom Fitzgerald (the director of The Hanging Garden, a distinctive slice of gay cinema that stood out from the unfortunate gay romantic comedy boom of the late ‘90s.) This one’s really more of a film about assisted suicide than AIDS, but it never lets you forget, or more precisely, doesn’t want you to forget that AIDS is still a problem; people with the disease may be living longer, but they’re still dying.

The film opens with Matt (Don McKellar) being placed into a body bag and wheeled out of his Chelsea apartment to the darkly comic strains of “Spirit of the Sky”. What follows is a flashback-fueled investigation of his death by D.A. Nick (a somewhat miscast Parker Posey), who is not sure whether AIDS itself or an assisted suicide is what killed Matt. Although clumsy, overstuffed with too many supporting figures and little overlong, The Event is still provocative, occasionally ingenuous, and emotionally wrenching without slipping into the sentimental deep end.

Olympia Dukakis arguably delivers her best work since the first Tales of The City miniseries as Matt’s mother; a scene the two of them share together on a park bench is as moving as anything in Lost In Translation and just spellbinding in its tonal shifts. The always-memorable Sarah Polley (watch for her amazing television commercial audition) and Brent Carver are also fine as, respectively, Matt’s younger sister and his doctor (possibly something more?)

Although some of the subplots seem a little lost (like an investigation involving a drag queen, although she’s one of the least stereotypical ever to grace the screen and has at one classic line), The Event is required viewing for anyone who fears gay cinema, or independent film, for that matter, has nothing interesting left to say or explore. And for every misstep, there’s a wonderful, unpredictable, shattering scene that you won’t soon forget.


Check out the new 'do!

With my one-year blog-iversary coming up, I pledge to do it more often (and that goes for everything--yeah, everything.) If not on a daily basis, then pretty damn often, or enough to thread that ever fine line between illuminating and self-indulgent.

I finally figgerred out how to hook up my VCR to my ex-roommate's TV (which he curiously left behind), after days (well, hours) of frustration. Still can't figure out the DVD, however, as the TV has no video/audio-in jacks. I put in an inquiry to the Philips/Maganox website help desk, and so far, I haven't heard a response, not even a computerized chuckle or a rolling of digital eyes.

I will write about the far from illuminating but a heck of a lot of fun High Falls Film Festival soon. Saw 8 movies in 4 days, and much like the box of CDs I get from Splendid every five weeks or so, they ranged from amazing and compelling to merely good to awfully tedious to just godawful.

The latest album to potentially make my year-end top ten list is +/-'s You Are Here, which I reviewed two weeks ago. It's a schizophrenic listen, bouncing from fey technopop to ringing guitar anthem, but it all works and there are no duds, absolutely none. How rare is that? How cool is that?

Finally, I just finished reading She's Not There, Jennifer Finney Boylan's brave, hilarious, frightening account of being a transgendered person. Rarely have I felt that I've known and adored a writer so well after reading his/her memoir (and in this case, the sexually correct double pronoun is literally accurate!). I've rarely felt so moved, either. How can I ever poke cruel fun at a transsexual ever again? (Time to find a new, helpless target I guess... I think I'll start with parents who gave all of their children names starting with the same first letter. Oh, how their day of reckoning beckons.)