Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday At the Movies #3

Saturday at The Movies...on Sunday

No, Alex O'Loughlin wasn't on Lost (but he did star in Moonlight, another one of my obsessions with which I will plague you all soon enough) but the sentiment is appropriate. Melting here in the NE US and since I am prone to heat sickness, got a bit confused about what day was what. Which is why Saturday at the Movies is on Sunday today. Hm, maybe it's the island time-shifting again. One never knows, and I did have to get my Lost reference in there somewhere. On to the movies.

Let's start with Moonstruck. Cher. Nicholas Cage. Olympia Dukakis. "One more word out of you, old man..." The moon, it brings the woman to the man. "I don't care. Take me to the..." Did I mention Cher? Midcentury NYC (and NYC in general) always has a special place in my heart, and the Italian family in this slice of it feels unbelievably real. Plus it has Cher.

While we're in the nostalgic mood, let's visit Avalon. No mists of, merely Avalon, though there's nothing mere about it. We start in 1914, with the arrival of a Russian immigrant to the titular Avalon in Baltimore, on July Fourth, no less. The opening voiceover calls it "the most beautiful place you've ever seen in your life," and by golly, it is. The fireworks, oh God, the fireworks. We see them through the new immigrant's eyes, and we feel, along with him, that it's a personal welcome, an exterior exhibition of all the hope and possibility within his heart. Then life happens and time moves on and subsequent generations do what subsequent generations do. The fireworks, oh God, the fireworks.

My first request, from the lovely and talented Carol Munro: Sliding Doors. Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah and an interesting alternate timeline premise. When Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Helen, races to catch a train, either she will make it or she won't. In this film, we get to see the extremely different paths her life would take on both of those outcomes. Sometimes what seems like the tiniest thing in life can make the biggest difference. The course of true love never does run smooth, in any event, and what kind of story would it be if it did? I love following both of Helen's outcomes and there's a scene near the end where Gwyneth and John's characters pour out their hearts and their messy, messy lives that hits right to the core. Beautifully done.

Could not possibly leave another movie post without A Bronx Tale. 1950s NY again. Robert DeNiro. Chazz Palminteri. A boy and his mobster. The boy's father. Coming of age and understanding who real heroes are.

For a Lost tie-in where I don't have to reach, The English Patient. Naveen Andrews plays Kip, a Sikh, and love interest for Juliette Binoche's Hanna, a military nurse, and they shine, though their romance is not the main story. The main story involves a mysterious maybe not as English as we think patient, played by Ralph Fiennes, recovering from a plane crash in an abandoned villa. Only Hanna remains behind to tend him, and as he heals in body, so does his memory return. Bit by bit, we're given glimpses into what is rather than what is supposed, and this tautly wound drama combines the wonder of life with the horror of war, reminding us that love, and tragedy, can touch us all. I can find no fault with the cast - Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas are in on this one as well, and the costumes and cinematography are gorgeous:
Memorial Day

I wasn't going to do YouTube clips today, but as the daughter, niece, and friend of veterans, Memorial Day means something to me. I remember being on the phone with my best friend a few years ago when she saw two uniformed officers and a clergy member approaching her officemate. Her officemate's husband was in the armed forces, serving in the middle east, and the officers had bad news. I remember praying with my friend for her officemate.

For my first two years of college, I attended Vermont College, the civilian campus of Norwich University, the oldest military college in the US. Many of my friends and the guys I dated there were cadets who viewed the military as their chosen career. To them, my family members and my friends, to all soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and guardsmen, past, present and future, thank you. To the families of those who did not come home, and those who do not know, we grieve with you. I am proud to be a second generation American.

These guys say it better than I ever could:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Saturday At The Movies

This time, we'll focus on a few films that may not be the best-known, but had a strong impact on me.

Grace of My Heart, the story of a female songwriter in the mid 20th century, will keep me spellbound every time. Which is probably a good reason to hunt down the DVD, hmm? Extra points for featuring the gorgeous song, "God Give Me Strength" written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello. Illeana Douglas is pure perfection, and Matt Dillon, oh my sob. This movie makes me proud and happy to be a creative woman.

The Man in the Moon is another that grabbed me from the very first frame and yanked me whole into its world. Reese Witherspoon's debut, Tess Harper, the way adult lessons can be learned far too soon and the family bonds that see us through it all. Plus the moment when the guy goes for the thing, and...there are not enough Kleenex in the world, but unforgettably well done:

My first viewing of My Brother's Wife was completely by accident. I'd flipped on the TV to check something before heading out, caught a glimpse of a man sitting in an airplane seat, looking out the window, and I did not surface for another couple of hours. Not surprising when that man was played by John Ritter, who used dramatic and comedic talents in this adaptation of the play The Middle Ages:
Embed function isn't working on this one, so clicky link here.

Inventing the Abbots: From the first second I saw Joaquin Phoenix painting on fake Elvis sideburns, I was a goner. Joaquin Poenix. Liv Tyler. Family dysfunction up the wazoo and that "no matter what" sort of love.

That Thing You Do: Catchy theme song, more Liv Tyler, Tom Hanks, the rise and fall and what comes after for a group of one hit Wonders. The pure joy of the screaming, dancing with abandon celebration in the appliance store when the group first hears their song on the radio. Liv Tyler's delivery of the "Shame on me for kissing you with my eyes closed" speech. Well done, young squire.
Welcome to Happy Dance Friday yet again.

In honor of the return of So You Think You Can Dance auditions, the granddaddy of all dances about auditions, "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line. Original cast and everything. Classic, and reminds me how much I loved auditioning when I did theater in college. Now I get pitch sessions, which is very close:

Was delighted to see the return of Mia Michaels to the SYTYCD judging panel, as I remember her leaving the show last season, but looks like she's baaaack, and hopefully will be providing us with more stuff like this:

Or the delicious atmosphere she created with "The Butt Dance"

Oh, all right, one more. How can I not include The Bench Dance? This never fails to leave me speechless:

Finally, because everyone, everywhere, should take the chance to happy dance whenever it appears:

Happy dancing, all!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obligatory Lost Post

At least the first one. There may be more, because not only did we have six years of amazing storytelling, acting and speculation, but now that the finale has finally aired, there may still be as many questions as answers. I consider that a good thing. Fittingly enough for Lost, I'm of two minds about the finale.

One the one hand, and I think DH will side with me here, I still have questions. Whatever happened to Mr Abbadon (other than his actor's migration to Fringe) and what was his function? Who was Jacob and MIB's adoptive mother and how did she get there? Stuff like that. Must confer with DH on specifics before blabbering further.

On the other, this show has always been about the characters for me, and on that front, the finale excelled. I cried. A lot. It felt good. I think I have a better grasp on the whole flash sideways world/holding area/let's all meet at the church thing after I've had a couple of days to ponder it. My personal theory on why Ben wasn't ready to move on yet is that he wanted to stay longer in his flash sideways world and I can't blame him. The guy never had it so good as he did there. The flash sideways world gave him as much peace as he'd ever been able to have, but I still missed having him with everyone else. I like to think that, at that point, he would have been welcome.

Now that all's said and done, I have to give the romances on Lost an A+ overall. Sun and Jin. Rose and Bernard. The Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet quadrangle, though I'm still not sure if everyone landed where I wanted them to land in that one. Maybe they did, maybe not. Sayid and Nadia. Sayid and Shannon were good, and a very interesting pairing, but Shannon rather than Nadia in the end for Sayid? Really? Really? :headshake: Eh, if it was plane people only, I guess. Hurley and Libby. Daniel and Charlotte. Charlie and Claire. Not to forget the big, big, pull out all stops romantic pairing of all, Desmond and Penny. If you aren't a slobbery pile of goo after watching this scene, I doubt your humanity:

Desmond and Penny's phone call

The last two lines between Sayid and Desmond can also apply to my overall impression of the Lost journey.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Since Happy Dance Fridays seem to be working, we now get Saturday at the Movies.

I happen to live, at present, literally a five minute walk from a mall with a multiplex in it. I rarely go. Not much into the broader comedies, science fiction or remakes of stuff I've already seen. They do say all things go in cycles, so until things cycle around again to sumptous period dramas (and by this I mean original stories rather than fictionalized biographies) I'll get most of my fix from DVDs. A few favorites to start us off.

Remains of the Day - I remember waking the day-sleeping friend who gave me this movie so that I could voice my opinion (being cagey here.) Love, love, love this and highly recommend the book by Kazuro Ishiguro as well. This film began my tradition of yelling at Emma Thompson as well as my mad passion for all things Merchant-Ivory.

Love Actually: I love pretty much everything from Working Title and this proves my favorites aren't all gloomy angstfests (only most of them.)This movie has it all; England. Christmas. Colin Firth. Dancing Hugh Grant. The beginning of my love of the genius that is Bill Nighy's acting. Liam Neeson nailing his performance to a fare-thee-well. Another chance to yell at Emma Thompson. A papier mache octopus in the back of a limo, and happy endings all around.

Saturday Night Fever: the heroine of my TT manuscript maintains this is the greatest dance movie ever made and I will not argue with her. (Besides, she'd hurt me.) From that beat and that strut to the final subway ride, this is a shatteringly real look into a character who has to come to terms with life and make hard choices and a portrait of a slice of NY. I was too young to see this in the theaters but successfully begged my parents for the soundtrack. Then when I caught the movie itself years later, oh my.

Annnd Lords of Flatbush, another story that couldn't take place anywhere but NY (do you see a theme here? You're a smart one.) Arguably a progenitor of the 70s obsession with the 50s. Henry Winkler as the Proto-Fonz, Sylvester Stallone, Perry King. Coming of age can hurt but be oh so sweet at the same time.
It's Happy Dance Friday once again.

Let's start off with a classic from Dancing With the Stars; Cheryl Burke and Drew Lachey:

If Benji Schwimmer's dancing is happy dancing and Bollywood dancing is happy dancing,what would happen if we combined the two? This:

I bet more people would take public transportation if this happened at every station:

That's this week's Happy Dance Friday. Got a clip you'd like to share? Leave a link in the comments.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Small squee over shippy moment in this week's Criminal Minds. Perhaps I need to add a shippy day to the blog? Will have to ponder that one; a good romance thread in a drama will get me every time.

Can't believe we're at another weekend already. Wrassling with a cold on this end, but it is Happy Dance Friday, so that makes up for a lot. First, a true classic. The heroine of my time travel informs me that Saturday Night Fever is the greatest dance movie ever made and wants me to submit this:

I first saw Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis when they competed on So You Think You Can Dance, and am thrilled to see they'll both be all stars on the current season. This, from their turn on Burn The Floor:

Because there ain't no party like a Bollywood party (and in tribute to the forthcoming finale of Lost; can we call this a flash-diagonal Sayid?)- the wedding dance from Bride and Predjudice:

Friday, May 07, 2010

Trying something new - Happy Dance Fridays.

Why Happy Dance Fridays? Other than Friday being a day that makes most people have an extra spring in their step, I am currently polishing a lovely story about England after the Plague that has me oddly bouncy. So why not share the joy? We'll start with one of my favorites, "Suits, the musical" from How I Met Your Mother

and "Dance 4 Life" by Ryan Kasprzak:

and because it's always Hammer Time somewhere:

Phew! Happy dancing to all!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Another Monday, another week...

There will be much writing in this one, feuled by not only a wonderful CORW meeting with guest speaker Elaine Isaak but some really good conversations with writer buddies both online and in person. Melva and Vicki, this week is for you. It's going to be packed.

Not that that's a bad thing (well, except for the fact that I exhausted the printer's supply of black ink in printing out my rough drafts of two novellas and now must print in a rainbow of colored ink until I can get to Staples...or wait for DH to leave for work and pirate his.) There could be worse things than hangning out with the people who live in my head and making their lives have more drama than mine (which is a hard task, seriously)Sending out submissions is a good thing and one step closer to being able to squee about new releases, and I like new releases.

Though I didn't read last night (left the book I was reading at a friend's house and it's one of those "yes, I can pick another book from the umptybillion in my TBR pile, but I want to read that one" books. Okay, and the other ones I want to read most are still in the bookstore and I can get them this weekend.) I did take advantage of DH being at work to appropriate his CD player (if he reads this, I may want to rethink such mentions)and play the import CDs that won't play on my puter. Something started stirring in my head, so I made use of my pre-Panera (Panera write-ins on Monday, yay) and scribbled down some impressions. Will this show up in some form in a future work? Probably so, but no new stuff until I get one or two current projects off my desk and off to those who want a gander at them.