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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in books (70)

Thursday
Oct022014

Another Lead Role for Quvenzhané Wallis

Margaret here to talk about what's new with everyone's favorite collector of puppy purses: Quvenzhané Wallis is on a roll. Her breakout performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild could have easily put her in the pantheon of one-hit wonder child actors, but the way she's been lining up projects makes that look unlikely. Now 11 years old, Little Q is two months out from the release of her first big studio film in the musical Annie which, with the Columbia promotional muscle behind it, might make her a real star. She has also just signed on to star in an adaptation of best-selling middle grade novel "Counting by 7s."

In the Holly Goldberg Sloan story, Quvenzhané will play a 12-year-old genius named Willow Chase who loses her adoptive parents in a car crash and has to push past her grief to find a new community of support. Said Quvenzhané to Deadline:

I am honored to play the role of Willow in 'Counting by 7s'. I love the message behind the story. I am excited to be a part of it and to see it come to life." 

Other upcoming projects for the busy young Oscar-nominee include voice work in an adaptation of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, and Fathers and Daughters, where she will star alongside Jane Fonda, Octavia Spencer, and Russell Crowe.

Even if none of these particular jobs ends up being earth-shattering, this steady work is heartening for those of us rooting for her to grow into a full-fledged acting career. At the very least we're in for some incredibly charming press tours. Is it foolish to hope that there's another Hushpuppy-level performance in her future?

Who'da man?

Friday
Sep262014

NYFF: Maps to the Stars, Or: Julianne Moore is God, Again

The New York Film Festival has begun. Here's Nathaniel on the latest from David Cronenberg which won Julianne Moore the Best Actress prize at Cannes earlier this year.

Let's not bury the lede. At a key moment in Maps to the Stars when the actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) gets some bad news that she's more or less been expecting/dreading, she is in a Buddha pose in yoga pants. Her eyes struggle to hold back tears and her body struggles to pretend it's relaxing when she lets out a sudden wail. You think the wail will descend into Julianne Moore's familiar crying jag (You know how she loves to do). Instead the wail abruptly stops. Fans of Julianne Moore won't be able to silence their own screaming so quickly. I, for one, felt euphoric watching her. For those of us whom we have famously dubbed "actressexuals" - the word originated at this blog though it's now escaped our small pfeiff fiefdom and entered the greater internet -- major achievements from our favorite stars can feel, however absurdly, like personal triumphs. Or at least like just rewards for enduring loyalty. Especially if you've worried that the magic has dissipated with familiarity, poor career decisions, lesser roles and/or medicore films.

This year, with Maps to the Stars and Still Alice (previously reviewed), the Julianne Moore I first fell for, the actress who inspired my whole career path (newbies might not know that this site emerged from a zine I started in the 1990s with issue #1 dubbed "Julianne Moore is God," pictured left) came roaring back into full power.

Pity, then, that the movie can't quite keep up with her or harness her brilliant satirical embodiment of all that is self-absorbed, self-loathing, self-medicated, and self-serving in modern Hollywood celebrity. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep142014

TIFF: "Still Alice," or Adjust Your Best Actress Charts

The final TIFF feature review. Whew, 25 films screened and written up. And all by closing night! Please give me a round of applause in the comments. I've never been this successful at managing a festival and comments are the only way I know you're appreciating it.

When we first meet Dr Alice Howland in this fine film adapated from the bestseller by Lisa Genova, she is celebrating her 50th birthday. She's happily married to Dr. John Howland (Alec Baldwin) with three grown children whom she adores though she isn't exactly a perfect mother or wife, at least as defined by your typical movie woman, in which case she'd be inordinately obsessed with her husband and children's particulars. In fact, she almost entirely defines herself by her own career and skills (imagine that!) as a respected linguistics professor.  She values articulate communication and higher education and maybe she isn't super imaginative about other forms of expression. In fact, she's downright dismissive about her youngest daughter Lydia's (Kristen Stewart) interest in acting. She gives her a continual hard time about her education and career and is frustratingly absent from all of Lydia's minor triumphs. 

More...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep092014

Learning the Power of Knowledge from "Pleasantville"

Back to school week continues with Abstew on Pleasantville...

Let's face it, sometimes school can be a real drag. When you're not trying to find your place among the social circles (which is just as much work as any assignment a teacher could give), there's the constant pressure of doing well academically so that you can go to a good college so that you won't waste your life! (Nope, no pressure at all...) When David (a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire) isn't having imaginary conversations with pretty girls that are out of his league, he has to sit through bleak lectures that are so depressing in their statistics that it kinda makes you just wanna give-up:

For those of you going on to college next year, the chance of finding a good job will actually decrease by the time you graduate. The available number of entry level jobs will drop 31% over the next 4 years. Median income for those jobs will go down as well. Obviously, my friends, it's a competitive world. And good grades are your only ticket through. In fact by the year 2000...

...Contracting HIV from a non-monogamous lifestyle will climb to 1 in 150. The odds of dying in an auto accident are only 1 in 2,500. Now this marks a drastic increase...

...14 years ago when ozone depletion was just at 10% the current level. By the time you are 30 years old, the average global temperature will have risen 2.5 degrees. Causing such catastrophic consequences as typhoons, floods, widespread drought, and famine. Okay...who can tell me what "famine" is?

Yikes. No wonder David seeks out the simpler times captured in the 1950's sitcom world of his favorite show "Pleasantville". [more...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug182014

Stage Door: Two Hunks

Billy Magnusson as "Rapunzel's Prince"If you're looking forward to Into the Woods, you should familiarize yourself with one of its two Prince Charmings. The Observer has a great profile of rising star Billy Magnusson who is in a new play called "Sex With Strangers" with Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn. We heart him here at TFE from the moment we first noticed him in his eventually Tony nominated role in Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike (reviewed). He played Spike in all his shirtless Sigourney's- boy-toy glory. We'd also seen him as one of the dumbest jocks ever committed to film in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress but either he hadn't yet perfected his sleight of hand with this 'type' or you had to be paying closer attention.

He was fun on The Leftovers a couple of weeks back, too, as a man who sold artificial look-alike corpses of your vanished loved ones. And if you've tried watching that show you'll know how surprising it is to call anyone "fun" within its creepy miserabilism. Frankly the show could use more gallows humor like it had during his intoxicating appearance.

I love this observation from the Observer profile:

On Screen and Stage Billy Magnusson often plays what I have started referring to as the Billy Magnusson Character: infectiously high energy, slightly drunk, and constantly hitting on an older woman. Oh, and he's got to take his top off. Just rip the thing off. Seriously like right now.

...What makes the Billy Magnussen Character so compelling is that he'll simultaneous play both to and against type.

I recommend that you familiarize yourself right quick with this Billy Magnussen Character. His Twitter and Instagram are fun too with cameos from co-stars of note like Kathy Bates & this one of Meryl Streep at the first sing-through of Into the Woods a year ago this month.

In other stage sex symbol news, how's this for shameless and thoroughly modern self-promotion....?

You almost never hear about actors from stage touring companies but a dancer named Mark MacKillop who played Riff in a recent West Side Story production, is selling a book compiling every photo taken of himself in hotel rooms on the road when he was lonely.

[NSFW photos after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug042014

Linkbusters

HitFix Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) may well remake Ghostbusters with a female cast. I'm normally against do-overs unless you significantly reinvent so best wishes to all
Roger Ebert the Jacques Demy collectio. WANT
MNPP Lee Pace & Matt Bomer went to high school together. Awwww
MNPP which is hotter, Dick (1999) anniversary!
Guardian Christina Hendricks interviewed about Mad Men and more. Her original agency dropped her when she took the Joan Harris part. D'oh!
Gothamist funny Julie Klausner on Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense
Shortpacked! a webcomic for everyone like me who feels totally alone in not liking Guardians of the Galaxy very much 
Coming Soon a boring onset shot of Daredevil's altar ego Matt Murdock in his lawyer drag from the new Netflix series
AV Club talks to Brendan Gleeson abouv Calvary, Harry Potter and more
Cinema Blend they're making Richard Linklater's School of Rock into a TV series
Nick's Flick Picks Nick and Joe have completed their choices for the "best of" the year's first half with leading performances and Best Picture. Good smart read with lots of love for Blue Ruin, Only Lovers Left Alive, Edge of Tomorrow
Coming Soon James Gunn teases work on Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. Whew, already?
Comics Alliance Comparing Guardians to The Last Starfighter, an 80s sci-fi flick
Boy Culture reviews Oscar winner Lee Grant's autobiography "I'd Still Say Yes" 
Slant Magazine reviews a biography on Joss Whedon 

Cast This! It appears that there's going to be a movie called Russ & Roger Go Beyond about the making of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). Who should play that infamous movie's celebrated writer Roger Ebert?

Finally...
Why did no one tell me about Vance Joy's "Riptide" which is now as far as I can tell like a year old. Love the emphatic fantasy of this lyric, duh!

 

I just gotta, I just gotta know
I can't have it, I can't have it any other way
I swear she's destined for the screen
Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen, oh 

Monday
Jul142014

Podcast: Katharine with a side of Bette!

In this special edition of the podcast, Nathaniel welcomes two Katharine Hepburn buffs Nick Davis and Anne Marie Kelly to talk about their (shared) first Actress Obsession. Naturally Kate the Great isn't the only diva that finds her way into the conversation. Expect supporting roles or cameos: Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Tennessee Williams, Deborah Kerr, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, George Cukor and more...

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

00:00 Intro. Plus Middle School drama: Hilariously "intense" early obsessions
13:00 Types, Genres, and Suddenly Last Summer
17:00 Her autobiography and films she loathed like Dragon Seed
22:00 Chemistry and co-stars
33:00 Revisiting unsatisfying movies -- raise a cocktail to this peculiar cinephile habit
40:00 The Spinster & The Magic Penis
47:00 Bette Davis and why we compare them. Silliness before the sign off.

Further Reading
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Summertime 
Nick's Hepburn Oscar Profile
A Year With Kate: Pat & Mike
A Year With Kate: Dragon Seed 
A Year With Kate: Christopher Strong
Me: Stories of My Life (Book)
The Making of the African Queen (Book)
Alex Von Tunzelmann & Self Styled Siren (Twitter) 

Kate with a side of Bette