Oscar History

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Entries in April Showers (50)


April Showers: The Piano

The evening waterworks continue. Here's Andrew on a particularly gloomy shower.

The Piano is a moody movie. Moody as in unpredictable and volatile, and moody as in suggesting melancholy and mystery. Even before the story really gets underway the film's atmosphere is one of unease. And it's because it's not just the story that's moody but visually, too. As Stuart Dryburgh's camera observes the rough, muddy ranches of New Zealand the harsh exteremities of the terrain seem to be not just incidental but direct representations of the similarly implacable characters.

This is but one of the numerous ways in which the Gothic influence on The Piano shines through, where landscape informs elements of plot and characters. The Piano checks off a number of the prerequisites for Gothic drama: impulsive, sometimes tyrannical men, women in distress, heightened emotion, a mysterious atmosphere, a somewhat isolated locale, stormy weather and muddy terrains. 

Of the influence of the Gothic in the film, Jane confesses...

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April Showers: Thelma & Louise

waterworks all month long... this one's from the vaults

Tonight's shower is provided by mother nature rather than traditional indoor plumbing. That's appropriate since Thelma & Louise (1991) is elemental: all wide open spaces, blazing sun, dusty earth and women as hard driving forces of nature.

While the film belongs to Susan Sarandon's Louise, Geena Davis's Thelma is the maddening/adorable one. Among her many exasperating yet endearing qualities is her uninhibited horniness for one J.D. (early Brad Pitt). In the still above, Louise has booted the caddish hitchhiker out of their car since the friends are getting hotel rooms for the night. J.D. struts away into the rain shower, fully confident that Thelma's eyes are still on him. He even kicks up a boot heel, a private little show for her, as the car drives away.

There he goes. I love watching him go.

Wrangler butts drive her nuts... or something.


If you've seen more than two or three movies in your lifetime you'll know that this lustfully observed exit will not be J.D.'s exit from the movie. But Thelma apparently hasn't seen so many movies. She's surprised (and thrilled) when he comes a'knocking on her hotel room door later that same night.

J.D. is such a skilled charmer that the outcome of his neighborly call is never in doubt. The aw shucks grin is ease itself. He even knows just how to pose in the pouring rain so that the water runs, just so, off his cowboy hat. This 'I'll get out of your hair now' wet puppy act is all pretense. He's no puppy but a dog. He knows he's getting out of the rain. He knows he's getting into her bed.

Do you remember the first time you saw Brad Pitt in a movie? This was mine. 


April Showers: Pulp Fiction

the waterworks continue

Will you give me oral pleasure?

I was casually skimming through Pulp Fiction the other day and watched scenes from the Bruce Willis portion. It's the storyline that's easiest to forget since it feels less energized by Tarantino's then shockingly fresh auteurial voice and rapid pop-culture infused dialogue and more like a general riff on cliché movie tropes (the boxer who won't take a fall, an antihero on the run, etcetera)... well at least until The Gimp shows up. But watching it again, I was reminded that Quentin Tarantino's movies used to be more firmly rooted in accessible humanity. We didn't know it at the time of course because his work was then so "new" and stylized that it didn't feel intimate in the way the movies have taught us to expect. But post-Jackie Brown his work became increasingly cartoonish (this is not always a bad thing: I sometimes think Kill Bill Vol 1 is his best film) and though his characters are still deeply memorable they're more like "characters" than people...

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April Showers: Like Crazy

waterworks continue most nights at 11. Here's abstew on Like Crazy

When Like Crazy played at Sundance in 2011, it became an instant hit. It even managed to win both the Grand Jury Prize for Drama and a Special Jury Prize in acting for star Felicity Jones. So it seemed natural that the film would follow in the Oscar-nominated footsteps of fellow Sundance award winners Precious and An Education and translate that success into some Oscar love of its own. If anything, certainly the film would've been the kind of star-is-born breakout for Felicity Jones in the same way Carey Mulligan had experienced 2 years previously. (And discussed recently in another edition of April Showers.) But when it was released in theatres later that year, the love it found in Sundance just never caught on in the same way for audiences or critics. And it seems the only breakout star to come from the film is Jennifer Lawrence in the small part of the other girl. She may not have gotten the man, but I'd said she's doing perfectly fine. [more...]

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April Showers/Stage Door: "Heathers"

Multi-tasking this evening with a bifurcated trip back to Heathers. As previously noted, the film just celebrated its 25th anniversary and hasn't lost its bark (so quotable, so confident) or bite (so daring, so dark). A musical adaptation of the high school classic is also playing Off Broadway at the moment but we'll get to that in a minute. Let's start with the waterworks...

[Major 25 year old spoilers are ahead]

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April Showers: An Education

waterworks each night at 11. Here's Andrew on Carey Mulligan's breakthrough

Carey Mulligan will be back headlining a new version of Far From the Madding Crowd later this year and it's now been five years since she won the world's attention. 2009 was the year Carey grew up from youngest Bennett sister to an actress worth following. She'd previously had slight but efficient turns in Brothers and Public Enemies, and a lovely performance opposite Susan Sarandon in the unremembered The Greatest but it was with Jenny Mellor in An Education that she made us fall in love. 

The film has only recently begun and Oxford hopeful, Jenny Mellor, is making her way home from band practice. A thunderclap in the preceding scene signals bad weather ahead and we cut to:

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April Showers: Flirting With Disaster

waterworks each night at 11

How many of you have seen David O. Russell's Flirting With Disaster (1996)? With the exception of the stupidly maligned I ♥ Huckabees, it's his funniest film. One day it will surely be rediscovered given the attention his films regularly win now. The film centers on bickering spouses Mel & Nancy (Ben Stiller & Patricia Arquette) who are searching for Mel's birth parents. In the screwball chaotic final act, they end up sharing the guest rooms in the crowded home of drug-loving hippie conspiracy theorists (Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda, Glen Fitzgerald) with a neurotic adoption agency executive Tina (Tea Leoni) and federal agents partners Paul and Tony (Richard Jenkins and Josh Brolin) who are also lovers. Eyes start to wander: Tina and Mel get flirtatious and Tony just can't stop coming on to Nancy.

While Mel enjoys a very uncomfortable dinner downstairs, upstairs tattooed and pierced Tony walks right into Nancy's bathroom where she's brushing her teeth. She immediately gets nervous and drops a picture frame on the floor and begins babbling about prints she has at home. Should she frame them? Anything to avoid looking at this bisexual hunk in a towel. He interrupts...

Tony: Do you want to take a shower?

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April Showers: Home Alone 2

waterworks each weeknight at 11 as we turn on the cinematic shower. Here's Andrew Kendall on Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

No, it’s not December, but I'm taking a trip down memory lane to ubiqutious Christmas film. The Macaulay Culkin Home Alone films were ubiqutious during my childhood and I was obsessed with them. Kevin McCallister is just the kind of precocious child that children would be enamoured with. And, still, for all the obsession for some odd reason I never saw the first five minutes of the New York based sequel until a few years ago, which robbed me of some essential information regarding one of two important showers in it. As the family prepares to go out to a Christmas shower Kevin laments that his Uncle Frank is keeping him from getting dressed.

“My tie’s in the bathroom. I can’t go in there ‘cause Uncle Frank is taking a shower. He says if I walked in there and saw him naked I’d grow up never feeling like a real man. Whatever that means.”

Whatever that means - I wonder how many children left the movie asking their parents what that meant? Kevin's Dad just brushes him off and tells him to go get his tie. And, so he does.

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