Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Safe – And a Message

So, I’m going to be gone for a week and I will not be taking the Mac with me. That means a week without posts (which of course is nothing new when it comes to a blogger such as myself) but fear not, for when I’m back not only will I complete the home stretch of my now waning MCU retrospective and continue with David Lynch (now that I have a great idea on how to do Twin Peaks) and the Ghibli podcasts, but I have a lot more brand-new ideas that I want to try to bring to the table as half-cocked as these have been.

In the meantime, I wanted to get my HMWYBS early this week, so I’m hitting y’all up with possibly my most boring episode yet (but the end will pay off) and I hope to see you guys soon. Thanks for following! Keep the reel rolling!

Advertisements

Break the Silence – Another Round of 2015 Capsule Reviews

So, in between trying (and failing) to keep shit regular with the Marvel reviews and the Lynch retrospective, I have been neglecting a certain thing about this year:

The fact that movies still came the fuck out this year. Which is mostly fine by me, since it’s been pretty hugely… franchise-y, as opposed the vast smorgasbord of versatility we got out of last year’s US releases.

Still, we’re a little past halfway through the year and though it’s way too late to be talking about EVERY movie I saw, I want to take at least some time to talk about certain pictures I know I can conjure up words about. I’ll be leaving out Jurassic WorldMad Max: Fury Road, and Ant-Man because I want to acknowledge their franchise first with a recap (I considered doing the same for Inside Out and When Marnie Was There given their production companies are ones I want to talk about sometime soon – I already began a podcast series based on remembering each of the Ghibli films. I will post links sometime once I stop thinking I sound like a moron on them).

About Elly (2009/dir. Asghar Farhadi/Iran)

Whuzzat? 2009? Salim, you said you’d be talking 2015. Well, yes, I am. For some reason that perplexes me (given the massive success of Farhadi’s 2011 masterpiece A Separation, Ahmadinejad actually being a huge fan of the movie, and even the fact that this film’s construction is a lot more Westernized than would be inaccessible to American audiences), About Elly wasn’t released in the US until earlier this year and that’s just about a shame. All strength this picture has is as a near-verite presentation of a scenario based on the disappearance of the titular girl and the slow and precise manner in which all these people traveling with her discover more and more secrets about her than they were in want to find out, as they desperately try to find Elly, in fear of the ever magnifying stakes with each new character element being introduced.

I regret that such a minimal synopsis is what I can present, but the bitch about Farhadi’s stories are that they are always in momentum and so every moment is another spoiler. I wanted to pick and choose what I’d like you guys to find out from watching the movie itself. And it’s remarkably constructed by all rights with all around wire-held performances including the last performance Golshifteh Farahani gave in an Iranian film before she was exiled from the country, though both the visual and human element are not as extraordinary as A Separation was. So I guess that’s my one weakness, the fact that I had seen a no-bullshit perfect movie from Farhadi (and other Iranian filmmakers) and held it against the picture. Maybe I need to give it another look. It is still however, in spite of the comparison, a very engaging and communicative scenario.

Wild Tales (2014/dir. Damian Szifron/Argentina & Spain)

A movie I skipped out on seeing at Cannes 2014, seeing it within the past few months has proved that I haven’t really missed out on much, even in spite of its Oscar nomination. Like all other anthology pictures, this revenge-based entry (so obviously produced by Pedro Almodovar that he could’ve been uncredited and I’d have called it) struggles (and like most, fails) to have each story on the same level of each other and it’s damn well a descending order of quality – from the morbidly hilarious “Pasternak” (though maybe poorly timed as HOURS after I saw the film, the infamous Germanwings Flight 9525 happened) to the pretty predictable but not entirely dismal “Til Death Do Us Part”, both the bookend stories. But there’s still a bitter enjoyable savage humor in most of the tales and in many of them a heightened cartoonish quality that insists we eschew underlying meaning, to keep this at least a promising little watch on a Sunday evening when you’re bored. Maybe I’m just too much of a sucker for black comedy  By the time it gets boring, it’s the end anyway, so you’re in the clear!

When Marnie Was There (2014/dir. Yonebayashi Hiromasa/Japan)

It’s remarkably appropriate for a swan song (for now) of Studio Ghibli. Like it’s basically an ultimate culmination of all the things that studio lived off of – Isolated lonely female lead, lush flora-based environments, moving to a new world, characters introduced to each other in a manner that separates them from each other’s worlds. And it’s all used to great effect. And yet, this story of Anna meeting Marnie and finding out her history is also perhaps the single most grounded picture they’ve done yet since Whisper of the Heart. There’s supernatural elements, of course, but it doesn’t serve to heighten the story as much and the elements are laid out and paced extremely patiently. It’s a movie that doesn’t want to be any bigger than it is, but is just fine accomplishing the little things it has to to become a moving, emotional and engaging story of depression and making sense of your existence. I’m sure Miyazaki wouldn’t ask for much more out of the final movie out of his pet project of a studio.

Ex Machina (2015/dir. Alex Garland/UK)

Opening up explaining the premise of Ex Machina is something I’m really going to begrudge myself to do, because it was in the opening moments of Ex Machina that I felt I was watching a really fantastic piece of pop cinema, if nothing else (I feel it was trying to be just a bit more cerebral than it actually was). It’s so confidently given to us in bits and pieces that are elusive and mysterious visual clues that are a huge leap of faith out of Alex Garland towards his skills as a director.

In fact, because of Ex Machina, I think a lot more of Alex Garland the director than I do of Alex Garland the writer. Not to say I don’t think much of Alex Garland the writer, I like the scripts to both 28 Days Later… and Ex Machina, it’s just that both are flawed.

Anyway, the plot IS important to Ex Machina so let me get it out of the way – Bluebook employee Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) wins a company lottery to visit and stay with reclusive Bluebook CEO and genius Nathan (Oscar Isaac, the single reason I actually went to see this movie, and while Isaac kills it… Gleeson and Vikander upstage him very much so).

Nathan, in spite of being off-putting with his bro-ish attitude and extreme control over how Caleb both explores the retreat property AND how Caleb interacts with him, has something really cool he wants Caleb to be involved with. It’s an AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander) that Nathan himself made and he wants Caleb to be involved with running Turing tests on her to see if Caleb, even with prior knowledge of Ava’s basis as a robot, could have her pass as human.

And from there is where the film gets a bit tricky with its narrative shenanigans that I really don’t want to spoil it. Anyway, it’s not why I’d been gushing. I’d been gushing because of the whole design of the picture – how sleek and cold and modern it all feels with a hint of (implied followed by overt) sexuality that feels so threatening and so threatened as to turn a science fiction film into a noir. Sure, it falls apart in the third act and sure, it’s a bit too breezily quick for us to register entirely what just happened, but it’s looks so good and it sounds so good and it looks and sounds like it feels so good to the ending point that I don’t care if it’s all human or just something like human.

Focus (2015/dir. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa/USA)

The movie is all about looks. It looks nice and glossy and slick with itself as a photographic and editing piece. But unfortunately, when it tries to get deeper as a romance or character study between Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s otherwise good performances, that’s where it starts to falter. Which is why it’s easy to divide the good and bad of the film into its story’s own two halves: The first being where it’s dedicated to explaining the craft of the con and letting having fun watching all these hucksters in action and the second when it devotes itself a lot more to the relationship between our two leads and how its been affected by the earlier part of the story. And then it sputters to a stop because reasons.

Spy (2015/dir. Paul Feig/USA)

You know what really impresses me more than the fact that I had fun at a Feig/McCarthy collaboration more than I expected (it’s being clearly that they are the best thing for each other)? The fact that the ultimate cold bitch-y Rose Byrne (whose performance in Neighbors already implied that she could hold herself as a comedic sparring partner) and Jason Statham (who I had no idea was able to manipulate his movie “I’m a badass persona” to such brilliantly parodic effect) stole the damn show from them. It’s also impressive how much Spy devotes itself as an action movie, even if it doesn’t really satisfy me in that factor the same way better recent action movies (Mad fucking Max) did. I mean it’s not perfect, since almost everybody on-screen except the actors I name are tripping over themselves and the movie still has a damn problem with beating dead horse jokes, but it is overall a better time than I expected.

The Age of Adaline (2015/dir. Lee Toland Krieger/USA)

There were so many ways a premise such as “woman lives for 100 years without aging a day” could have gone. It’s disappointing that the way Krieger chose to take it was to have it become a straightforward romance. But thankfully, it still somewhat delivers on that end on the part of its performances – Blake Lively is really able to sell the concept of this aged and sophisticated woman underneath all this untouched beauty, while Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn still upstage her as a former lover of Adaline’s insistent on having her consider her actions from this moment on in her life (Anthony Ingruber gives the most uncanny Harrison Ford impression as a younger flashback version of the character) and a more ebullient version of the role Burstyn already played in her immediately previous film Interstellar, respectively. It works.

But it could have been so much more interesting, dammit!

Inside Out (2015/dir. Pete Docter/USA)

Inside Out is easily the movie out of all of these that I’ve given a capsule response towards that I love most, so I have no problem still calling it the most overrated film of the year so far.

That doesn’t matter. It’s charming. It’s perfectly cast with Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and even Mindy Kaling with the most thankless role in the script doing phenomenal to not just audibly embody their characters of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, but in Poehler and Smith’s case being sneaky enough to insert enough human personality into those voices so that when Joy isn’t so joyful or Sadness is getting a bit better, we can never doubt their subsequent emotional arcs. Plus it looks absolutely beautiful with the inside of Riley’s mind being allowed to live in large bold shapes and colors that pop out. Plus, the fact that it works effectively as metaphor for the psychology of any human being living the world and how their thoughts have to urge their own reactions… namely leading to depression and what it takes to get out.

Plus… oh fuck it, I’m gonna make a full-length review of this eventually because I just have to much to say about this flick. How did Minions possibly beat it at the box office? Fuck, man.

All Lightning, Little Thunder

OK, full disclosure time: I skipped the fuck outta Thor: The Dark World when it was first released. I didn’t really intend to, despite my less-than-enthuasistic feeling for its predecessor as my least favorite of all the MCU films to date, but I got too busy whilst the times I’d be able to attend the theater I’d opt to watch better films at the time. Like Oldboy. Yeah, I fucked up.

I eventually got around to catching it on its DVD release, but… I kind of wasn’t really as into the movie and so I feel like I only paid half attention at what was going on while instead deciding laundry and chemistry lab reports were more important.

So today is perhaps the one time I actually took a moment to watch the film with full attention the same as every other movie I review. It is perhaps the only time I had to rewatch any of the MCU films.

And yet Thor: The Dark World is absolutely the movie where I don’t know what the fuck is going on.

No wait, that’s not fully true, but before I acknowledge that, I gotta acknowledge something bigger to me that it maybe took me a while to realize, but not much. Thor: The Dark World is very much an improvement on Thor. Namely in the change of directors – Alan Taylor (taking over at the last second for Patty Jenkins) has a much more firm control on the dire tone and implication of stakes (however much I’m unable to really figure out those stakes beyond “Ey yo, Asgard be in trouble!”) than the first film’s Kenneth Branagh, whose annoying flip-flop between screwball comedy and DAHKNESS made me wish he stepped away from movies that aren’t Shakespearean adaptations. I mean there’s still some of that huehuehue shit comedy as Kat Dennings returns to kill the film and Stellan Skarsgard enters the film literally balls-out to make Erik much more manic than I recall the character ever being, but for the most part, those moments are paced enough (save for an opening that feels more like an interruption including a thankless semi-cameo by Chris O’Dowd) to act like backfired yet admirable breathers in the middle of the film’s action-based setpieces.

Taylor’s lack of visual ambition rather than going through the story motions is a bit upsetting, as at least there were shots by Branagh that felt at least somewhat like splash pages.

But hey, there’s more to impress. Tom Hiddleston aside (as mentioning him as the best thing in the movie is the same as mentioning Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the best albums ever made, we fucking know!), I forgot up until this moment that this was the first time since the original Thor that I didn’t think Chris Hemsworth is a big blond washboard of face. He breathes a little bit more in the role, has more to do than either be a smug dickhead in the first film or just be a grim killjoy in the Avengers pictures.

He still takes some time to realize what olden speak is coming out of his mouth, though.

And hey, even further, if I hadn’t already seen and adored Guardians of the Galaxy, I would have called this film out as the best damn Visual Effects work we’ve had from Marvel to date. GotG does exist and is superior in every single way (except maybe villain – but villains are rarely the MCU’s strong-suit), but even then the spacey glimmer and the Asgardian ship chase and especially the look of Malekith himself on Christopher Eccleston’s face is so so so impressive to make me not care. I wish Captain America: The Winter Soldier took a leaf out of this movie’s book for CGI.

All in all, moments like Thor vs. Malekith and all make Thor: The Dark World a lot of fun on a visceral level and add to making me prefer pre-Age of Ultron Phase 2 to Phase 1, even if it doesn’t share the sobriety towards stakes as Winter Soldier or Iron Man 3. And so now, I have to sit down and acknowledge what I tried to put off.

Guys, I love and understand Inland Empire and Mulholland Dr. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Inherent Vice are my motherfucking jam and they’re for some reason notorious for being insoluble. Hell, I can even construct a thoroughline in the works of Shane Carruth’s very impossible plots.

So, forgive me for blaming the narrative a bit more than I maybe should when I ask what in the fuck-all is up in this movie’s story?

Wait, no, I can totally pick up the pieces and know what’s going on a scene-by-scene basis: Long ago, the dark-elven race that Malekith is belonged to are apparently made extinct by Bor, Odin’s father, until Malekith and a bunch of Dark-Elves rise to prove that wrong by blowing the hell up outta Asgard. What’s the occasion? Jane Foster, Thor’s squeeze from the first film, has now been promoted from bland female romantic lead that poor Natalie Portman is overqualified for to bland female romantic MacGuffin that poor Natalie Portman is overqualified for (BTW, her first reaction to Asgard as an environment made me fear that Portman had been taking acting lessons from Dennings. Odin forbid!). How? She apparently absorbed the only Infinity Stone that is fluid in form, the red Aether (Reality), and Malekith is claiming it as, y’know, he can’t really fuck shit up without it.

While it’s not entirely unable to find out, the movie’s premise is a mess and it expects you pick up the pieces of the mess to follow along (apparently Taylor wanted a much longer cut than he got and Marvel said no. I can live with that, simply because Thor: The Dark World already feels pretty overlong… I feel if Taylor wanted more room for story, she could have removed much of the Darcy end of the film).

But it is a fun mess and a relatively stable tonal mess compared to its predecessor and so, while not exactly re-inventing the Marvel wheel, Thor: The Dark World kept things spinning enough until Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s ambitions towards the MCU storyline took hold half a year later…

Hit Me With Your Best Shot – VMAs and WTFs and DTFs and STDs

This week, the lack of Hit Me with Your Best Shot video is not my fault!

Nathaniel R. had changed last night the selection of the films we’ll be watching and picking shots out of. What was originally going to be Todd Haynes’ Safe (which I had just re-watched in May and was completely ready to pick a shot from) is now the recently announced nominees for Best Cinematography at the MTV Video Music Awards.

… Damn, the VMAs. I have not actually watched that shit since middle school when I still thought much of MTV (also back when it was actually in Miami before moving up to L.A. and shit).

Anyway, in spite of finding out that (in spite of having listened to more new music this year than the many previous years) I have not really paid attention to any of this year’s music video releases – save for Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” (Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is so far my favorite album of the year and has yet to be surpassed) and Ghost’s “Cirice” – I am pretty excited at doing one of these multiple pick challenges for the very first time.

The last minute manner of it means no HMWYBS video and probably a lengthy article to follow (also, if I make a fucking video out of a bunch of music videos – VEVO will have a motherfucking field day with me so I’d rather not) but let’s jump at it, anyway.

So first, we’ve got Flying Lotus’ “Never Catch Me” with lyricism by Kendrick Lamar. You’re Dead! has been one of my favorite albums of last year so seeing it make an award nomination, even one which I had no clue it earned (as this is my first time watching it) and from an awards show I just don’t care about. Directed by Hiro Murai and shot by Larkin Sieple, it is a dusty funereal presentation of the funeral of two black children where – without incident or ceremony, to the point that even the funeral attendees don’t react – they rise out of their coffins and escape their tragedy while offsetting the profundity and impact of a music video in 2015 with this subject matter (before we are even revealed who the departed are, we can definitely tell they will be black children) with a pretty impressive mix of cultural choreography and then some Astaire/Rogers-based ecstasy to Flying Lotus’ rapid string-based skipping.

That and Sieple’s very airy use of light – both indoor and outdoor – to bottleneck focus on the only source of happiness in this sobering environment and blow out the dusty grays and browns of the church as much as they can. Sieple’s work is a good part of what makes this music video such a balancing act. I was half expecting an “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” esque ending, given how passive all the adults are, but I’m kind of relieved they didn’t do that.

So, my favorite shot of this music video is in fact the only moment when the world (save for the children playing outside of the church) acknowledges the possibility that these kids are still alive.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.02.30 PM

A backlit choir bouncing and jumping and clapping as though rhythmically invoking the resurrection of the two main kids and propelling them to run and never turn back. It is not only just a beautiful shot like most backlit shots worth half a damn, full of motion and life, it is also the moment when I told myself “Dis Gun B Gud”. And so it was.

The next video is Ed Sheeran’s charming ballad “Thinking Out Loud” from X, another album I was pretty fond of. Directed by Emil Nava, the video opens up with a silhouette swirling around a red curtain that honestly just brought up ideas of a Black Lodge setting. When the music video faded into a giant ballroom featuring Sheeran and So You Think You Can Dance contestant Brittany Cherry dancing together, the image is so soft and reliant on an aged golden fill of the room – including moments in the video where it doesn’t bother hiding the fixtures – that I immediately knew that this was the music video I heard about that was shot by Daniel Pearl.

You don’t watch the Texas Chain Saw Massacre as much as I do and not be able to recognize what’s good with the cinematographer.

Anyway Sheeran proves to be an able enough partner for Cherry not to be tripping the way I would be if I were forced to dance and the dance itself is filled with enough on-the-nose attempts to translate the lyrics of the hit into body language that he does fine, but the fact that he remains absolutely fixed on the dance floor while Cherry agile leaps around him makes him look a lot more stiff than he’d probably like to be.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.05.18 PM

In any case, my best shot here is the most fucking obvious one for its blatant cuteness, while being the one moment where it seems like the two dancers are on the same level together. Literally. It is the final shot of them lying down on the floor together while Pearl and Nava arrange their two spotlights (which did a wonderful job shaping their motions for the majority of the music video) into a heart. Yeah, I know, I fucking suck, right?

Full disclosure for the next nominee: I am not a fan of Taylor Swift musically. At least not as much as I’d like to be, although I don’t think she’s out-and-out an atrocious artist like the likes of Brokencyde, Blood on the Dance Floor, and whatever the fuck this shit is. Add that to the fact that I more friends than comfortable peddle the idea that her music is the greatest to me, how her earlier songs sound to me like everything I hate about jangly faux-country pop mixed with slut-shaming and the female version of the “nice guy” complex (Tell me that is not what “You Belong With Me” sounds like) and I have a kneejerk reaction along the lines “Man, fuck that shit!”.

Wait, there’s more full disclosure! I’m not crazy about Joseph Kahn either. Actually that’s a lie – he’s hit or miss with me. His narrative works (Torque, Detention, and Power/Rangers) all make me roll my eyes in different ways, while his music videos go between pretty charming (Faith No More’s “Last Cup of Sorrow”, Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia”, Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”), kind of banal/boring (Backstreet Boys’ “Larger than Life”, Dido’s “White Flag”) and shit that just absolutely impresses me (Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl”, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”). So I don’t hate him as much as I’d think but it’s enough to make me brace myself. And of course, I keep a lot of company – I too know a lot of apologists for Kahn’s narrative work, but I can find an apologist for Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny if I have to.

Anyway, the music video to Swift’s 1989 “Bad Blood” (once again featuring Kendrick Lamar though, my word, is he misused here), which is admittedly a not-as-annoying song (I do concede to the idea that Swift is growing up as a person – though “Bad Blood” is among many songs that show she’s moved from “naive broken-hearted small town stereotype” to “dirty laundry airing”. I think I’d be hypocritical to claim that makes her worse of an artist when I love other artists like Megadeth and Notorious BIG and shit), is that sort of nominee I’d expect from MTV – the one that makes them think cinematography and production design are the same thing. Or maybe they’re fine with unsubtle color correction drenching the image rather than cinematographer Christopher Probst popping elements out (he starts out fine with the TRON based stuff but the moment Swift starts training, its either underlit or overdrenched)… Even in failing to capture the same Bay-esque glisten of the explosion close to the end. I dunno, people seem to like that use of post-work, but as Lina Lamont said “I ain’t people”.

But my oh my, as much as I wonder how much of the video is cribbed from Kanye West’s work with Hype Williams (Everybody knows Swift is West’s biggest fan… other than West himself), this is production design galore. Even like the obviously CGI weaponry at times makes it more cartoonishly fun to live in the whole underground agent world of this shit. An absolute comic book of a music video.

And admittedly this probably the video that made it hardest to pick a shot, not because I disliked it as I expected to (I don’t think it’s great, but again it’s fun), but because there’s just a bunch of tongue-in-cheek stuff that I couldn’t help jumping immediately to “I pick dat!”.

From the androgynous take-no-shit look of Lena Dunham as the cigar smoking… sorry what’s her job? (one of a hundred cameos in this video). Whatever, she looks cool in this and I’m usually not even a fan of her either.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.10.22 PM

To the fact that there’s a dog in one scene.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.10.56 PM

To the whole “fuck you, teddy bear” vibe that touches on the whole Taylor Swift “I ain’t no teenager no more, tell you hwat” attitude of the album

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.11.40 PM

To this one fucking idiot who won’t pay attention to the RPG she fired indoors!

ellie-bad-blood

Ellie, that’s not a fucking toy! (also, brought to you by shitty tumblr gifs)

Nah, my pick is the one moment where Kahn and the video isn’t trying to impress anymore. The video fritzes out whenever Swift and Lamar share the screen in a split around the latter half. Unless that’s VEVO messing up, but hey, I’m down with it. It breaks the video for a second and I’m kind of glad it does, because shit gets ridiculous up in that bitch.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.19.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.19.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.20.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.20.18 PM 

I’m guessing Kahn and Swift hear me talk shit about them and so they hit me where it hurts: my paranoia about whether or not my internet connection is fucking with me.

Next we have FKA twigs’ “Two Weeks” from her LP1, directed by Nabil Elderkin and shot by Justin Brown. My first reaction was to think “Well, this seems to have turned into Hit Me With Your Best Frame rather than shot” as it is a single seamless pan away from a central twigs speaking right in front of us.

The other is that “Holy shit, from the very first image I am in the bag for this.” I can’t say I like the song – I love R&B as stripped-down and minute as it classically is as a genre, I don’t need modern flourishes and silly digital fuckery. But the statuesque golden flavor of the whole thing is exotic and ephemeral and the fact it’s all spaced out makes it seem like the viewer is breathing in all that atmosphere to the point of perfumesque suffocation, all while retaining the sense of divinity from the sparse but deliberate construction the temple the music video takes place in. At once it feels like the point is to catch yourself ogling something that should be above that and I loved it…

… until the mini twigs showed up, which is a bit too funny for someone as immature as I am, but the lighting just doesn’t match up once they get into frame. It’s a tiny bother, not one that ruins the video for me. But I can’t say I love it as much as I loved “Never Catch Me”.

Anyway, in this case, I’m going to go ahead and pick the shot that is once again most obvious, where we break off from the sexuality of the thing to cool down in a lovely light-refracting coda of water blue cored by a firey red. It’s so chill.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.29.55 PM

And so we reach the final music video… the only one of these that is from a song that I have not heard and an artist that I can’t even claim to be familiar with, Alt-J’s “Left Hand Free”, directed by Ryan Staake and shot by Mike Simpson.

Let me tell ya, we got David Gordon Greens up in here without really any of the heavy life misery that goes with classic DGG.

However, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am previously unfamiliar with this southbound blues song, the fact that five music videos I just watched in succession and had to think about burned me out, or the fact that the presentation looks a little bit better than a GAP commercial, but I don’t really have much to react to.

Hell, both the song and video just seemed like the idea behind making it was to have creating something and it looks like they did and I am very glad it got to them. So, I just went with whatever got me the most joy out of all of the soft images and this one won out as my best shot:

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.49.28 PM

Girls, cars, and the night, burning through by the bleeding and faded glow of the tail lights with just a little bit more youthful liveliness teasing out by the top of the car hood. What a dream!

So that’s about all of the nominees and all that. Got them shots and everything, but what I really want to do once more before I end this is just to talk about a music video of this year with lighting I 100% love, but would have never possibly expected to be nominated for any awards.

That’s kind of what happens when you’re Swedish horror-based rock band that uses LaVeyan Satanism as a gimmick. Everybody hates ya for it.

I’ve been in the bag for Ghost (I believe they’ve gone by the name of Ghost B.C. in America to avoid confusion with another American band) ever since I first heard them in 2013, ’round the time of Infestissumam (though I checked out Opus Eponymous first) and I’ve kept having a blast of a time with their tongue-in-cheek horror indulgence. I saw one of their shows Halloween season in 2013 and it was one of the most fun times of my life. Generally that’s why I love horror rock bands like Misfits, Danzig, Coheed and Cambria, Rob Zombie.

So hell yeah, I wanna talk about their video for “Cirice” with all its sinister, glowing coolness of blues and reds, making it look like a wasted film from a talent show that ended up halfway buried before someone unlocked the evil within it. And the obvious relieving laughs like the kids dressed as Tobias Forge Papa Emeritus and his band of ghouls and the enthusiastic sole applause they receive at the end of the thing.

But it’s mainly all those horror tropes of trances and anger and supernatural violence and all that. It almost reminds of The Lords of Salem, if it were directed by Ti West instead of Rob Zombie. It evokes all of those tales of the Devil Woman or Child with the power inside to destroy, like Carrie or Firestarter and all that.

(I also made my own initial concept of a music video for this song that maybe I’ll share later on in life – given that even if I actually were able to get rights from Ghost to make said video, I don’t trust a novice like myself to get it done the way I imagine it. I do feel happy to say when I explained the concept, it creeped out many people.)

And hey, I even have a pair of best shots! Right here, like the anti-version of that Taylor Swift Kendrick Lamar split screen, with a ghostly spirit of blue laying itself on the matching sides of our protagonists and shadows making child Emeritus bring out more and more the image of being the harbinger of evil and death. Plus that girl is so good at having a blank stare.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.22.22 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.22.36 PM

OK, I’m done. I promise. Just wanted to mention this music video that I love and errythang. Go home. Unless you’ve been reading this at home. Go out.

(one more thing: if you have to ask, and I think you can figure it out, my favorite music video was “Never Catch Me”. Even over “Cirice”.)

Damn, I’m out of Black Sabbath lyrics… uh… Symptom of the Iron Man, a genre never dies?

If I’m going to jump into Iron Man 3 finally and try to beat the clock for Ant-Man this upcoming weekend (I’ve still got Thor: The Dark WorldCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, and my complete thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron to write about), there’s something I’ve got to knock out of the way.

In spite of being a fan of comics and especially of Marvel since I picked up my first copy of “Werewolf by Night” at age 6, I don’t do much for fan service. In fact, I usually praise pictures for outwardly avoiding fan service. When we get fan service, we get a film like Iron Man 2 filled with a million references and no actual thoroughline to make me feel like the movie was worthwhile in the end. No, my personal preference is when a comic book adaptation will link itself up to its source and become its own thing. Therefore it doesn’t surprise me, nor does it really assuage me that I was not so ready to grab pitchforks and torches as many of my friends were when Iron Man 3 came out and Shane Black made a point of deviating the fuck out of the character, changing up so much of what he means in a manner that compliments his arc but also trying to turn the Marvel world on its head by its very controversial 2/3 reveal. In fact, I was almost willing to praise the film for going there.

If only it didn’t have its problems as a movie beyond that – namely the fact that in the long run it doesn’t feel like Marvel was particularly feeling the changes Black wanted to bring to the board and that by this point Downey Jr. feels so damn bored in the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Which, y’know, even Downey Jr. being bored is an exciting performance for us on a superficial level – he’s still hella fun to watch. But it also means he probably wasn’t ready to follow along with the necessary arc shifts that Tony goes through in the film and that means that none of his character beats hit as hard as they need to.

By this point in the Iron Man series, billionaire playboy philanthropist genius superhero Stark is going through some serious PTSD from the final battle in The Avengers (which demanded he stare threatening alien life in the face and risk his life in an intense manner). It’s ruining his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), current CEO of Stark Industries, and it’s ruining his focus when a villainous terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is sending videos gloating about his claims of killing American soldiers and bombing American soil. And of course, matters aren’t helped when one of those bombings hospitalizes his best friend Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, in his first time not directing the series) and two faces from Stark’s past – Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), both scientists working on something out of Stark’s radar (but not entirely out of his league).

Anyway, all this baggage piles up into destroying Stark’s Malibu and leaving him for dead and that’s where the picture goes on to turning into your usual Shane Black picture, this being his first directing work for Marvel and his second directed film (after an impressive career of action picture writing). And so it also demands a full-on shift of Tony Stark’s persona – more on-the-nose in the final moments of the picture than anything but still there throughout – of becoming more relaxed and bring less of himself out of this iron maiden he’s created.

From there, Black’s script doesn’t really do much to carry the story to any place beyond the next action setpiece (or a bit of a stall in the middle where we get Ty Simpkins play some local kid Stark teams up with briefly) and just facilitate some sort of insistence that Tony Stark grow as a person by the end of the film until having to say “fuck it” at the end and force a conclusion that demands the movie become more consequential to Stark’s arc (though we find at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron that nothing in Phase 2 Marvel meant a goddamn thing). Plus there’s just one such aspect of the ending that absolutely makes no sense in the context of a movie that occurred immediately after the life-threatening scenario Tony went through in Iron Man 2.

But even if it’s just superficially fed and eventually discarded and Downey Jr. makes his performance feel like an obligation (a fun-to-watch obligation, but an obligation nonetheless), the change is there for Tony to go through and add to the Iron Man canon. Besides which it’s practically the same storytelling we took in Iron Man, just without the freshness this time. I don’t mind that mustiness when we have some pretty great setpieces like the central Air Force One rescue, perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had at a Marvel film other than the Star-Spangled Man scene in Captain America: The First Avenger. Or the hilarity of Ben Kingsley’s performance, comic book fan backlash be fucking damned. Iron Man 3 may fail at remaking the wheel like Black tried to, but it’s still overall a great time (enough that I saw it twice in its theatrical run) and it’s relatively top-tier compared to most of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films we got.

Oh and this is like the kajillionth Shane Black-penned film taking place on Christmas released far from that season. I know better and recognize why Black chooses that holiday, but I love to entertain the concept that it’s the only holiday he knows and he doesn’t know when the hell it is.

The Straight Story – 8 – Blue Velvet

Now, that the disaster that was Dune was behind Lynch there was one more thing about that project that he had to confront: the fact that he now had a blank canvas provided by Dino de Laurentiis as a recompense for the trials and tribulations of that project. One in which de Laurentiis says nothing except the budget (6 million), how much Lynch is monetarily paid, and how long the movie has to be (2 million). Otherwise he fucked off.

So by “confront”, I meant totally took advantage of and gave us one of his most inspired pictures, his most definitive as an artist, and, in my humble opinion, his most accessible, even considering the mild namesake of this retrospective series.

I also think it is Lynch’s most overrated with many publications’ cinematic canons ranking this high above his other works. I adore Blue Velvet but I don’t think it’s his best when his filmography includes such exciting autopsies of psyche, celebrity, and film language as Eraserhead, Mulholland Dr., and Inland Empire, all muhfucking masterpieces, I tell you hwat. So I don’t mean to put Blue Velvet down when I say it just has superior company. Especially when appreciating that making it must be the most open he’s felt in years. And most especially for how the strokes Lynch took part in led to his first Oscar nomination for Best Director.

It must’ve been a great grace for Lynch, a director known to have troubles with producers and studios (and many times to bounce back as seen by the recent news that Twin Peaks is returning with EIGHTEEN GOT DAMN EPISODES instead of the originally contracted nine), to finally get a chance to stretch his muscles all the way out without any studio head telling him to calm down in a manner that he’d feel obstructed by. It’s any auteurs complete dream to get this chance and Lynch made every frame count in an unforgettable manner with Blue Velvet, so let’s start digging under the dirt to find out why.

As young Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan proving to be Lynch’s greatest surrogate but not yet the greatest collaboration of their careers) returns to Lumberton to be beside his father after he suffers a stroke, he decides to take the short way home and for his troubles finds something in the lot he cuts through. Something that looks like and is confirmed to be, once he brings it to the attention of detective John Williams (George Dickerson), a severed human ear. This fascinates Jeffrey and Williams’ daughter Sandy (the constantly brilliant Laura Dern – forgetting to add her to my favorite actress list is an oversight) enough to get them sleuthing about in the underworld of their otherwise idyllic town and Jeffrey himself digs under enough to expose himself to the violent and dangerous life of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and her frighteningly wretched abuser Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper in the performance he was born for), who rapes her physically and psychologically in the most nightmarish form of sociopathy you could possibly conjure – sky’s gotta be the limit.

I think this is where I ought to state what makes such a Blue Velvet such a cornerstone of Lynchian canon for me (I mean, other than just the simple fact of its affect on both Lynch and de Laurentiis’ careers), even if it isn’t even in my top 3 David Lynch works. I may have rushed through it, but the movie’s opening montage of happiness and suburban serenity to Bobby Vinton’s soothing and idyllic version of the titular song (originally performed by the The Clovers) does a pleasant yet fisted job of showing us how nice and lovely and soft the town of Lumberton is meant to be. It’s so insistent that even before the end of the montage digging us into the insect-fested dirt and grime beneath the green grass and yellow flowers, we already kind of get an eerie feeling of unease just from how it shoves this in our hands, complete with a fourth-wall breaking fireman waving at us and children crossing a street in slow motion that feels a little more voyeuristic than should be comfortable.

Boom! We go organically but suddenly from this Peyton Place town to blackened nightmares of Raymond Chandler without much ceremony and that silver-plated providence of an underbelly sicker than the undoubtedly infected ear underneath this happy happy place of dreams is probably not originated by Lynch at all (and given the hour I’m typing this, I’m not sure I’ll be able to recall its origins – for the record, the furthest back I can think is Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, since this idea is noir in its DNA) but Blue Velvet is the film that took that and provided it in its most unambiguous form and from there, many films and especially TV Shows (Twin Peaks is one we’ll get to, but Veronica Mars is my favorite example of this) began taking charge of this template and using it for whatever “dark story” they wanted to tell. It was perfect for that.

Lynch, while taking care of that aspect of the film enough, doesn’t seem 100 hundred percent interested in maintaining that duality of the Reagan-dream-town. Because once we meet Frank, I don’t know whether to attribute it to Hopper’s hopping madness that lingers well after he exits a scene or Lynch just always maintaining a sense of tension even in the daylight hours (particularly when Beaumont has to juggle what secrets to keep from Det. Williams and Sandy) that we just never ever go back to that idyllic fantasy until the very end of the film (and to be honest, I’m not even sure I’d call it too idyllic – there’s something about the final close-up of the Robin that feels… very ominous). It’s much too dangerous of an atmosphere now to get all the smiling muscles up.

Still, that’s just fine by Lynch, since ’round the middle is where he really gets to showcasing his usual aesthetic – a scene with a cameo by Dean Stockwell as a friend of Frank’s is every bit the sort of shit you’d expect to see from Lynch if Eraserhead or Twin Peaks was your very first hit of his stuff; underhead flashlight lighting to puts shadows in places they don’t belong on faces we don’t want to see (otherwise Lynch mainstay for the first half of his career, Fred Elmes, sticks to naturalism with a lean towards darker moody lighting when moments center particularly on Rossellini. The daylight scenes already have poppy colors to themselves in saturated greens and clear whites and reds, but when we get to seeing Dorothy singing in the nightclub… it all just swirls together in blues and reds that you need to pay attention to see where it begins and ends. I’d also accredit that last part to some top-shelf makeup work); semi-cryptic dialogue that is only more alarming when you figure out what it means; mysteries within the mise en scene that you could try to connect but won’t get an answer to – and it’s all more for the sake of display or service to the atmosphere than actual overall service to the movie as a whole.

But it’s still a complete movie and it’s still Lynch at its core, only more digestible than usual. MacLachlan provides naivety the entire way through without feeling two-dimensional, which is quite an impressive feat. Hopper provides perhaps the single most memorable character from ANY Lynch film by just letting himself go all out, even if it isn’t the best performance in a Lynch film. Angelo Badalamenti is still steady and fine, but I will say this is the most uninteresting score of his for Lynch that I have encountered yet.

Maybe I’m just too much of a snob, since I love Lynch more when he’s working for himself and we all just get to tag along, but this is definitely his most mainstream picture and I’d certainly recommend it as a palate tester, but if you want harder stuff, this isn’t the place you go for Lynch. This is the appetizer, never the main course.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Got damn, the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” video series is crack full of fuck ups as of recent from me and I apologize y’all. First, in case you didn’t see my video explaining, YouTube blocked the The Red Shoes episode based on copyright claims (which I will not dispute because, to be fair, they’re not wrong). And now, in extracting the video from my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon DVD, I done fucked up again and find the extract unusable so – among the fact the work on the podcast Movie Motorbreath Breath, intending to post the latest David Lynch review by tomorrow night, wanting to do a couple of franchise overviews for movie sequels that came out this year (2015 has been THE year of the franchise as of late), and working on the first two videos of another Motorbreath video series “Nobody Asked for Your Opinion, Salim” – suffice it to say that this week will not be another Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon video. I don’t know when I’ll find time to finish that video, but I promise to have it done sometime in the interim between this season and the next HMYBS season that Nathaniel R. has at The Film Experience, while I’m working on past HMYBS assignments that I wanted to have a hand in (last week, I released one for Jurassic Park, so get on that. Because my dog is in it.).

But now the GOOD news. Which is that, in spite of the movie being Crouching Tiger, Hidden Fucking Dragon, a movie well known for its amazing motion scenes, my pick of best shot is not at all based too much on motion. Kind of subtle motions, as in the face behind a mask, but not at all as overt as the wuxia combat style (In the video, I was going to explain why I am not a huge admirer of wuxia cinema – although I appreciate the art form – but looking back on what I’ve shot, I feel like I’ve stumbled over my words and don’t know how to put my feelings on it very eloquently. I will simply state that, while I am very much a fan of East Asian Cinema and martial arts pictures, since we got Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Jackie Chan, and recently South Korea has been on fucking point, wuxia has not been my thing. Also weird since I’m an Opera enthusiast.).

You see, since Dick TracyCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the first movie Nathaniel R. assigned since I started participating that I actually DID have to re-watch because I didn’t have any previous shots in mind. Most of the other films I did – AmadeusJurassic Park, especially Magic Mike and The Red Shoes, and even my earlier (but under the radar) Batman and Eternal Sunshine picks – I didn’t just remember them so clearly I knew which shots I was going to pick, I remembered them so clearly I knew which clips I’d use at what point before starting to make the video/article. Prior to last night, the last (and first) time I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was in November 2007 and I remember loving it and admiring it, as I wasn’t as jaded from Jet Li and House of Flying (but pretty) Bullshit to be skeptical about the genre. Thankfully, upon my rewatch, I was pleasantly surprised to find the film’s aesthetic and storytelling still holds up to me, but not only that…

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon didn’t speak to me at all as an action film. It certainly has some impressive and (at the very least) memorable setpieces sprinkled around it, but what was the true core of the film was its characters – in particular, the struggle between passion and discipline for its four central characters: Haunted living legends of the edge Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat, in a role that almost felt weird seeing him in anything without a suit and a handgun) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), Governor’s daughter Yu Jen (Zhang Ziyi in the role that made her an international star for a while), and even the desert bandit Lo “Dark Cloud” (Chang Chen), all acted fantastically (albeit spouting off different fucking accents which bothers a lot of Chinese speakers), all with a romance between Mu Bai/Shu Lien and Jen/Lo, and all of them acting like love will destroy who they are instead of setting them free. Hell, we could even toss in the discipline/passion struggle towards Cheng Peipei as Jen’s Governess (she does have a name but I don’t want to give it lest you haven’t seen the film and want to be as surprised as I was when it was revealed and how it changed the story). Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it (director Ang Lee’s best film in my opinion), since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous like both movies present them.

Anyway, the shot I’m about to go with will not require a SPOILER WARNING but the explanation I give will, so here we go.

Part of what struck that “character study” feel for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon above being a “design-o-rama” film (in spite of being a historical wuxia, meaning that we want to feel the setting and in a medium such as film, that would mean a LOOOOOOOTTTTT of wide and medium shots to just know that we’re in an old Qing Dynasty temple or hall or summat. As we do get a lot of those in the latter half of the movie when they are surrounded by deserts and mountains and forests and such, but not so much in the first half.

In the first half, we get a loooooooooooottttt of close-ups instead. We get glimpses and wides of the homes and such, but we’re more focused on the moods and the gazes of our protagonists rather than the epic history we’ve been shot into. It’s not modern, it’s more soap opera-esque, but it works. And as tempting as it was to go with one of the lavish environment shots later in the film, I had go with discipline and choose a shot that I thought spoke about a character rather than about how epic and vast the story is meant to be.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.38.10 PM

This is one of the really earlier fights in the film – where the masked thief of the Green Destiny sword (previously owned by Mu Bai’s master before being passed down to Mu Bai) intervenes in Mu Bai’s killing of the Governess and fights him – and even if we are not yet formerly introduced to Jen’s skill as a swordsmaster, you’d have to be pretty damned reaching not to at least suspect Jen is the masked thief at this point.

The stance she makes is extremely regal and proud, even if it is a Wudang stance (being as misinformed of Wudang as a martial art short of knowing it exists as a fictional form strictly form for wuxia productions, I cannot say if the stance is bullshit or not). The screencap I took unfortunately is ill-lighted to see the dark green of the Green Destiny she wields against Mu Bai, but she holds it high and above her as a taunt, and the arch of her eyes and her brow tell of how fucking pleased she is with the adventure she has given herself after being threatened to a married life.

Passion absolutely took over for Jen and it’s hard not to slightly root for her for being the first person to actually break free. It turns what was previously a pretty intense fight into a bit more joyous of an occasion. At least until the governess kills the fucking mood by killing Inspector Tsai minutes later.

It’s a little bit harder than should be to pick out who is the real lead in this movie. Only a little bit – Shu Lien gets most of the screentime by my count and Mu Bai is certainly the person everybody (audience and characters) wants to see most, but Zhang’s breakout and internal commentary between the two different sides of Jen as a person – the swordsmaster and the noblewoman – makes her absolutely my favorite performance of the film (I also say it is one of many things that gives the movie a feminist subtext that 100% went over my head when I first saw the movie).

Imagine my thrill when I saw her bring that emotionally fragile tug-o-war to Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster (and then my dismay when I discovered the version that came to America to be a complete fucking mess and close to ruining her performance).

My Favorite Things – My Favorite Actresses

Yesterday I turned 23 in the middle of making this and a few other of the My Favorite Things lists (more or less me moving them from the original blogspot), so let’s see how far we’ve come and how much I’ve changed!!!

She’s hot. She’s a woman in a movie – Of course she is.’ -David McGee, friend and filmmaking partner

I now name my favorite female actresses. The darker point of this, though, is that there are absolutely less minority actresses.
At this point, I’d say it’s less about my tastes towards actresses and more towards how females are represented in cinema throughout the years. Gender roles have taken place for too long in every aspect of life in this world and films are no exception, of course, as the arts act as mirror towards life as we know it. As a result, we have a specific seat in the story that we subject women strictly too with little room that we’ll allow for exception. The ‘gaze’, the sexual objectification of women in a largely sexist male society such as the film industry is a sad truth – it even goes beyond acting – look how long it took for a woman to win the Best Director Oscar… Look how many successful female directors we have out here…

I cannot deny that, as evident by the following list, I succumb to such prejudices in the presented films before me in my life. I’m just a zombie like many others.

So thank the powers-that-be for actresses who either use that stereotype to at least shine out, make themselves memorable, make themselves heard and seen beyond being white noise among the pretty white actresses. After all, objectification is, to a degree, the main basis in stardom – it works for male actors just as well as female actors – I don’t think Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Tom Cruise are stars solely on their acting chops…
And thank the powers-that-be even greater for the actresses that struggle to break beyond that gender role and put themselves into higher tier of acting. Even if they’re not as successful (and many of them pleasantly surprisingly are successful), at least they have standards beyond being the next Victoria’s Secret model to star in Michael Bay’s next blockbuster. At least they care about their craft moreso than the next Charlie Sheen.

(in rough order)


Liv Ullmann
Bergman’s muse and then turning into one of the main players of cinema itself.
Favorite Performance: Marianne – Scenes from a Marriage (1973, dir. Ingmar Bergman)


Barbara Stanwyck
Comedy and cons and craft like nobody’s business.
Favorite Performance: Jean Harrington/The Lady Eve – The Lady Eve (1941, dir. Preston Sturges)


Nicole Kidman
Tom Cruise was the trophy husband, not the other way around.
Favorite Performance: Satine – Moulin Rouge! (2001, dir. Baz Luhrmann)


Hara Setsuko
Smiling during life’s drags.
Favorite Performance: Somiya Noriko – Late Spring (1949, dir. Ozu Yasujiro)


Audrey Hepburn
Because Grace would be too obvious a name.
Favorite Performance: Holly Golightly – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, dir. Blake Edwards)


Ginger Rogers
A worthy foil to Mr. Astaire himself.
Favorite Performance: Jean Maitland – Stage Door (1937, dir. Gregory La Cava)


Claudia Cardinale
If there’s a woman gonna stand the West…
Favorite Performance: Jill McBain – Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, dir. Sergio Leone)


Catherine Deneuve
France’s Belle.
Favorite Performance: Severine Serizy – Belle de Jour (1967, dir. Luis Bunuel)


Gena Rowlands

The muse of Cassavetes.
Favorite Performance: Mabel Longhetti – A Woman Under the Influence (1974, dir. John Cassavetes)


Ingrid Bergman

How I wish I’d keep playing it.
Favorite Performance: Charlotte Andergast – Autumn Sonata (1978, dir. Ingmar Bergman) (I was between that and Casablanca, but the latter felt too obvious)


Julianne Moore

I mean, she’s got the best track record of any actress I can think of.
Favorite Performance: Carol White – Safe (1995, dir. Todd Haynes)


Louise Brooks

There’s something natural to her allure in the one film I’ve seen her in.
Favorite Performance: Lulu – Pandora’s Box (1929, dir. G.W. Pabst)


Uma Thurman

Icy when she needs to be, sassy all the way through.
Favorite Performance: The Bride – Kill Bill (2003-2004, dir. Quentin Tarantino)


Tilda Swinton

The male Lon Chaney as far as I’m concerned.
Favorite Performance: Mason – Snowpiercer (2013, dir. Bong Joon-ho)


Ellen Burstyn

Favorite Performance: Alice Hyatt – Alive Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, dir. Martin Scorsese) (Again, I struggled between this and Requiem for a Dream and shot for the more obscure… maybe I’m turning hipster).


Maria Falconetti

Is it unfair to put this based on only one performance? See me give a fuck.
Favorite Performance: Joan of Arc – The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer)


Marion Cotillard

My experience with her started with her meh work with Chris Nolan. Then I looked at her French work and Oh My Word, now I see why people love her.
Favorite Performance: Edith Piaf – La Mome (2007, dir. Olivier Dahan)


Kristen Bell

Yeah, I had a crush on her character, so what?
Favorite Performance: Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars (2004-07; 2013, crea. Rob Thomas)


Faye Dunaway
Wild one.
Favorite Performance: Diana Christensen – Network (1976, dir. Sidney Lumet)


Jamie Lee Curtis
Scream Queen. Obligatory.
Favorite Performance: Laurie Strode – Halloween (1978, dir. John Carpenter)


Sigourney Weaver
Tough as nails. Obligatory.
Favorite Performance: Ellen Ripley – Aliens (1986, dir. James Cameron)


Winona Ryder

Hates people almost as much as I do. Obligatory.
Favorite Performance: Veronica Sawyer – Heathers (1989, dir. Michael Lehmann)


Natalie Portman
Dat SNL short.
Favorite Performance: Mathilda – Leon (1994, dir. Luc Besson)


Francoise Fabian

Another one performance siren for me.
Favorite Performance: Maud – My Night at Maud’s (1969, dir. Eric Rohmer)

Fuck me, I’m halfway through this and it’s 6 in the morning. I love too many movie screen women, I’ll just hit you up with the names and favorite performances from here on forth. But I will be back to add the pictures and the comment. Until then, consider this… an honorable mention.

Geena Davis
Favorite Performance: #8 Dorothy “Dottie” Hinson – A League of Their Own (1992, dir. Penny Marshall)

Pam Ferris
Favorite Performance: Miss Trunchbull – Matilda (1996, dir. Danny De Vito)

Juliette Binoche
Favorite Performance: Julie de Courcy – Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski)

Julie Delpy
Favorite Performance: Celine – The Before series (1995-2013, dir. Richard Linklater)

Giuletta Masina
Favorite Performance: Cabiria – Nights of Cabiria (1957, dir. Federico Fellini)

Jennifer Jason Leigh
Favorite Performance: Sadie Flood – Georgia (1995, dir. Ulu Grosbard)

Kim Novak
Favorite Performance: Judy Barton – Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Mia Farrow
Favorite Performance: Rosemary Woodhouse – Rosemary’s Baby (1968, dir. Roman Polanski)

Olivia De Havilland
Favorite Performance: Virginia Cunningham – The Snake Pit (1948, dir. Anatole Litvak)

Anjelica Huston
Favorite Performance: Morticia Addams – The Addams Family (1991, dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)

Scarlett Johansson
Favorite Performance: Barbara Sugarman – Don Jon (2013, dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Meagan Good
Favorite Performance: Kara – Brick (2005, dir. Rian Johnson)

Katherine Hepburn
Favorite Performance: Tracy Lord – The Philadelphia Story (1940, dir. George Cukor)

Grace Kelly
Favorite Performance: Lise Fremont – Rear Window (1954, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Brigitte Bardot
Favorite Performance: Camille Javal – Contempt (1963, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)

Hillary Swank
Favorite Performance: Brandon Teena – Boys Don’t Cry (1999, dir. Kimberly Peirce)

Rachel Weisz
Favorite Performance: Hester Collyer – The Deep Blue Sea (2011, dir. Terence Davies)

Veronica Lake
Favorite Performance: Jennifer – I Married a Witch (1942, dir. Rene Clair)

Anna Karina
Favorite Performance: Odile – Band of Outsiders (1964, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)

Pam Grier
Favorite Performance: Coffy – Coffy (1973, dir. Jack Hill)

Sheryl Lee
Favorite Performance: Laura Palmer – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992, dir. David Lynch)

Rita Hayworth
Favorite Performance: Gilda Farrell – Gilda (1946, dir. Charles Vidor)

Holly Hunter
Favorite Performance: Ada McGrath – The Piano (1993, dir. Jane Campion)

Eva Marie Saint
Favorite Performance: Edie Doyle – On the Waterfront (1954, dir. Elia Kazan)

Marilyn Monroe
Favorite Performance: Sugar Kane – Some Like It Hot (1959, dir. Billy Wilder)

Lillian Gish
Favorite Performance: The Eternal Motherhood – Intolerance (1916, dir. D.W. Griffith)

Shirley MacLaine
Favorite Performance: Jennifer Rogers – The Trouble with Harry (1955, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Molly Ringwald
Favorite Performance: Andie Walsh – Pretty in Pink (1986, dir. John Hughes)

Lana Turner
Favorite Performance: Cora Smith – The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946, dir. Tay Garnett)

Paola Pitagora
Favorite Performance: Giulia – Fists in the Pocket (1965, dir. Marco Bellocchio)

Linnea Quigley
Favorite Performance: Trash – Return of the Living Dead (1985, dir. Dan O’Bannon)