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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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What did you see this weekend?

"I watched Clouds of Sils Maria. I wanted even more Kristen Stewart, which is a testament to how great she was in it.- JEFF

"9 to 5 was on tv so I watched it to see all the best shots. My favourite part was the opening with all the ladies heading off to work set to the song. Stuff like that always makes me want to pack it up and become an independent lady in New York City."-SVG

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Entries in Drew Barrymore (6)


A Twist On a Classic With "Ever After" (1998) 

Cinderella Week continues with abstew ...

The Barrymores and the Hustons. Two dynasties that over decades and generations left their legacy on stage and screen, taking their place as acting royalty. It's fitting that the classic tale of the young cinder girl that manages to actually become royalty would finally bring these two families together on film. Other than a 1939 documentary about the history of America called Land of Liberty which contained footage of John and Lionel Barrymore and Walter Huston (and if you look at the cast list from IMDB, apparently every star in Hollywood at the time...), it was 1998's Ever After that marked the first time a member of the Barrymore family acted alongside a member of the Huston family. And for Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston, representing their respective families, the pairing proved to be as enchanting as the timeless tale. 

Unlike the other magical, musical versions of Cinderella that we've been discussing, in this version, made during the height of late '90s "Girl Power" our main character is far from passive and pet mice aren't trying to help win her the love of a prince. Renamed Danielle de Barbarac, you are more likely to find her reading a tattered copy of Sir Thomas More's Utopia and debating the worth of all human beings than you are to see her harmonizing with songbirds. Tough, determined, and able to fend for herself, thank you very much (punches, daggers, and apple throwing employed when need be), at one point in the film she even rescues the prince (Dougray Scott) by throwing him over her back and carrying him away. Screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) created a modern woman (that just happens to be living in the 16th century) for modern audiences perfectly embodied by modern-day Drew Barrymore. [More...]

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Drew & Toni together at last!

Manuel here catching up on a female-helmed, female-centered film coming our way in 2015 (one hopes!).

Have you guys heard about Miss You Already? The pic starting shooting in London just this past month and it stars none other than Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, whose filmography seems endlessly baffling to me: Thirteen (2003), Lords of Dogtown (2005), Nativity Story (2006), Twilight (2008), Red Riding Hood (2011), and something called Plush (2013; anyone seen it? IMDB tells me it stars Cam “Amos cookies” Gigandet). I mean, I know female directors have a hard time getting passion (or any other kind of) projects made, but can someone explain to me this set of films? I guess one could make a thorough-line about Hardwicke’s interest in young women’s lives, which makes Miss You Already an interesting departure.

The film centers on Milly and Jess “who have been best friends since childhood. Their friendship is put to the test as Jess struggles to have a much longed-for baby and Milly finds out she has breast cancer.” Barrymore gets the struggling mom-to-be role while Collette gets the cancer-stricken role. Maybe it’s the combination of these two endlessly watchable stars (and the semi-serious plot description), but I can’t be the only one who’s getting a Beaches vibe from this, or am I? Maybe it’s the dearth of two-female led films to choose from as a comparison (we usually see them in packs of three), though of course both Drew and Toni have great entries on that mini-genre what with Grey Gardens and In Her Shoes.

Then again, we also need to talk about that supporting cast: on top of Dominic Cooper (!) and Paddy Considine (currently in Pride), they’ve just announced the addition of Tyson Ritter (he of “The All American Rejects” fame). So many pretty boys for our leading ladies! Plus Jacqueline Bisset is playing Collette’s mother. Okay, so this cast may just be as eclectic as Hardwicke’s filmography.

Oh, and did I mention Toni shaved her head for it? She proudly showed it off earlier this week on People's Style watch:

Is a Barrymore/Collette film one of your fan-fic ideas come alive? What do you think of Toni's new look (especially given how beautiful her locks look in that earlier pic)?


Box Office Holiday: Mutants, Reunited Stars, and Immigrants

Amir here, with the long weekend’s box office actuals. All was well in America (and all other markets in the world) as audiences stormed to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film’s haul was impressive, even though it fell short of the series’ best (The Last Stand) despite the inflation of 3D tickets, but it’s safe to say fatigue hasn’t yet kicked in with this group of superheroes. In the process, X-Men knocked Godzilla off the top spot perch. Nathaniel quite liked the film, despite its limitations. I haven’t yet seen it, and with the news that Edgar Wright has been kicked off the director’s chair of Ant Man, have vowed never to see another superhero film, but that’s a gripe for another article.

X-Men: Weekend of Godzilla Past

01 X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST $110.5 *new* Review
02 GODZILLA $38.4 (cum. $155.7) Review & Podcast
03 BLENDED $17.7 *new*
04 NEIGHBORS $17.1 (cum. $116.8) Review & Podcast
05 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 $10 (cum. $187.1)

06 MILLION DOLLAR ARM $9.1 (cum. $22.7)
07 THE OTHER WOMAN $4.5 (cum. $78.6)  
08 RIO 2 $3.4 (cum. $122.5)
09 CHEF $2.9 new (cum. $4.2)
10 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $2.7 (cum. $86.5)
11 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $2.2 (cum. $254.1) Review
12 BELLE $2.1 (cum. $4.3) Review

The other big opening of the weekend was Blended, for which the $18m dollar sales is being branded a flop but this isn’t true when you stop to consider just how unappealing everything about this film is. The title sounds like a youtube compilation of mishaps to people who are making smoothies. The trailer sucked the life out of every single theatre I saw it in, and a lot has changed for the leading duo since they starred together in their hit 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer, most notably the fact that they weren’t has-beens then.

Marion Cotillard in The ImmigrantOn the limited side, the Sundance critical hit Cold in July was the most significant release, but without much advertising muscle or star power, it managed a modest $4k per screen average. James Gray’s The Immigrant pulled in similar averages but on a much larger scale as it expanded to 147 theatres. If you live in the vicinity of any of those 147 screens, you Must. Go. Now! It is one of the best of the year.

Nathaniel was on a viewing/reviewing spree this weekend with X-Men, The Normal Heart, Mad Men, and some 1941 pictures (vote!) but I didn’t watch a film. Instead I had the pleasure of talking to Godfrey Cheshire for a few hours! Amazing, right? It was a hoot!

How did you spend the weekend?  


Oscar Horrors: Drew's Great Aunt Ethel

Here Lies... "Mrs. Warren" the bedridden matriarch of a Victorian mansion that's haunted by a serial killer.

Hasn't Team Experience been doing a great job with the Oscar Horrors series? I figured, after passing out all these assignments, that it was time I chimed in, so I filled in one of my own Supporting Actress viewing gaps with Ethel Barrymore's Oscar nominated work in The Spiral Staircase (1945). This black and white horror flick, an early member of the neverending serial killer subgenre, is set almost entirely in an old mansion where our mute protagonist Helen (Dorothy McGuire of Gentleman's Agreement fame) works. It's not at all clear what her job is since she's neither nurse nor maid nor cook, those duties being performed with "hey, I'm in this movie, too!" gusto by How Green Was My Valley mama Sara Allgood and the Bride of Frankenstein herself, Elsa Lanchester.

We first meet "Mrs. Warren" twenty minutes into the picture. Nurse Barker (Allgood) warns Helen that their boss is in a mood...

She's sly, too. Even with her eyes closed she seems to be watching you like an evil spirit."

...but the nurse's warning doubles as an impossibly truthful, succinct and funny description of Ethel Barrymore's entire performance. I half imagined Nurse Barker tweeting it with the hashtag #ItsBarrymoreBitch 

"Do you like scary movies?"

Ethel Barrymore died 17 years before her great niece Drew Barrymore was born but I kept thinking of Drew during the movie. Perhaps it was the through line of Barrymore Girls & Acclaimed Performances in Horror Flicks? Drew Barrymore was, infamously, the first kill in Scream (1996). Tough demanding Mrs. Warren might have rescued poor Casey by insisting she hang up that phone immediately and hide under her bed.

In horror parlance Ethel's "Mrs Warren" is no Victim or Final Girl but something like a cross between Psychic "Tangina" and overbearing monster mom... "Mrs. Norma Bates" ? Barrymore makes excellent use of her eyes and modulation of her voice but it's a very limited role consisting of essentially the same three point scene on repeat: 


  1. Sassy Rudeness #ItsBarrymoreBitch
  2. Fade into Ill Health/Sleepiness
  3. Sudden Snap Back to Life for either:
    a) Ominous Pronouncement: "There's been another murder hasn't there? No one told me. I always know everything."
    b)  Direct Warning: "You're not safe here my dear. Leave this house at once."


The Spiral Staircase is something of a predictable dud now since horror movies have been so endlessly dissected, parodied, and Screamed in the last few decades and this is an old school blueprint -- the women here are always doing stupid things like walking into dark basements when they hear noises / feel a draft! --  but it's worth a watch for its quartet of Supporting Actress: domineering Ethel, put-upon fussbudget Sara, drunk funny Elsa and emotional hussy Rhonda Fleming. They all run circles around McGuire, a Damsel in Distress with only her muteness as a defining characteristic, but someone's got to keep your pulse up when you're watching a horror movie. Actresses to the rescue!... in the case of Ethel Barrymore, quite literally.

previously on Oscar horrors


Top Ten: Actress Centerfolds

Given the recent cancellation of The Playboy Club which we mourned mainly because Laura Benanti deserves to be famous.... Given James Franco's Flaunting and pants-dropping... Given the waves the oft-naked Shame has been causing at festivals ... Given disgraced actress Lindsay Lohan's newly announced decision to pose for "Playboy" for a million bucks (only a million? I hope she realizes she used to make more than that for acting) today feels like the unofficial Mandatory Day of Nude Celebrity Appreciation. [Disclaimer: I type this fully clothed.]

So let's celebrate the movie actresses who have gone before Lindsay!

Oh sure, sure. The common wisdom is that this is La Lohan's new rock bottom and we shouldn't be celebrating but -- please -- actresses take off their clothes all the time for totally worthwhile purposes (Acting!) and the only thing that's shameful about the human body is that we're ashamed of it. Plus, it's worth noting that actresses have won Oscars AFTER doing this so this isn't rock bottom so much as a lame opportunity to have just said "Lindsay Lohan" and "Oscars" in the same sentence!

If anything this might be her first smart move in years. But only time and Lindsay herself will be able to confirm that.


I thought I'd kick off with this perverse double bill, and I have a reason. Marilyn Monroe was on the first cover of Playboy in 1953 the year of her definitive ascent (Niagara, How To Marry A Millionaire) but she didn't actually pose for the magazine. The famous nude was shot years prior to her stardom, in 1949 to be exact. Sandra, one of Hollywood's most consistent provocateurs, posed purposefully for reasons of her own 40 years later. We won't deign to speak for her as to why but it did carry a certain exegetic charge as an imagined passive/aggressive (aggressive/aggresive?) response to ex-friend Madonna's "Sex" book which also debuted that year. All of which is to say these are the two poles between which the general truth of nude photospreads lies: first what Playboy imagined itself to be with women as commodity specifically for male pleasure (again, Marilyn wasn't actually involved) and second what Playboy pictorials often become with women as entrepeneurs of their own career/bodies and the pleasure of men of secondary, tertiary, or even no concern at all.

Not to get all fancy about T&A. 

NSFW Beauties after the jump: Julie, Charlize, Drew, Kim and more...

Click to read more ...


Q&A: Teen Carnage, Kiki's Oscar, and Golden Age Moderns

In the Q&A column Nathaniel answers 9 or 10 questions posed by readers each week. This week young actors seemed to be on your brain for which we must surely blame that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close trailer. Here we go again. 

Spencer: With your great passion for film and your auteur love have you ever thought about MAKING films?
Yes but not in any specific way which is why I never pursued it. I have some skill with editing which I studied briefly in college (or so my friend who is an actual film editor tells me) and I write but in truth, I probably wouldn't be happy unless I was directing (i.e. in control). I was honest with myself early on that I just couldn't see myself having the right temperament for it. Still, like anyone, I've had fleeting fantasy moments about making movies. It usually involves me being lauded as the director who finally brought the musical back for good. Mostly because I keep waiting for that savior to arrive and, as it turns out, Rob Marshall wasn't the answer.

I just recently watched the Martin Scorsese documentary on Fran Lebowitz called Public Speaking (which I recommend) and she put into words something I've always felt.

An audience with a high level of connoisseurship is as important to the culture as artists."

She explains why in more articulate detail in the film but I'm happy to do my small part in continuing the connoisseur tradition.

Basti: "Extremely Loud..." and "Hugo" ahead... What is your favourite performance by a male child actor?
I tend to not like child actors, at least American ones, because they're too precociously aware of the camera. That said I have nostalgic fondness for Mark Lester in Oliver! (1968) because I was obsessed with the movie when I was the age of its singing orphans. Jamie Bell was pretty special in Billy Elliott (2000) and I'm happy his career panned out. I liked Nicholas Gledhill in Careful He Might Hear You (1984) but the movie is a foggy memory. Oh, Haley Joel Osment! You can't even say "it was the direction" with him as you can with many great child performances, since he was deserving of Oscar nominations twice before he was even 13!  (The Sixth Sense and A.I. Artificial Intelligence). 

Philip: What does Kirsten Dunst need to do to see an Oscar nomination?
She's doing it right now. I don't mean that Melancholia will snag her her first Oscar nomination -- she has to share film carrying duties there and her cargo is too eerie and depressive for mass appeal -- but that she's making very smart moves at this point in her career as she rebuilds after that weird post Spider-Man 3 spell...

Her current decisions and ace work (All Good Things followed immediately by Melancholia? That's quite a twofer performance-wise.) are bound to pay off in terms of respect and career momentum as she reaches the magic years for female movie stars. Which, if you're wondering, is from about 31 to 35 years of age by my calculations. So many of the truly iconic performances have happened in that age range. Think of the best and most famous performances ever and then look up the age the actress was at the time. It's uncanny. Or maybe it's just when actresses have the best opportunities work-wise. Of course Oscar likes women best at age 29 (as previously discussed) but that's a different topic.

MrW: Chaplin or Keaton?
Keaton and with bells on. Uh, even though there's no sound.

Liz: What would you do to fix the foreign language category at the Oscars, particularly the strange eligibility and release rules? On one hand, it's frustrating that it's virtually impossible for moviegoers to see the movies before the ceremony. But on the other, it's a nice way to get these movies more exposure if they're able to put "Oscar nominated" on their posters. Quandry?
I am much more forgiving of Oscar's foreign film rules than most pundits. I totally understand why they have the one film rule and the percentage rules of language and the "is it Albanian enough?" rulings and all of that. That said, I do think there's one easy fix that wouldn't completely demolish Oscar's diversity-structure but would still better represent what's happening in world cinema  and maybe even prompt more ambitious release strategies. My feeling is the rules should stay exactly as is EXCEPT that if a film receives a regular release during the calendar year it also becomes eligible in this category, at least for write-in votes. Sure this would give France and India, for example, a multiple films edge each year (since several of their films see stateside releases) and other countries an edge in the years in which they have world cinema heat but why shouldn't the Best Foreign Film Category also reflect dominant film cultures? Why shouldn't, for example, Pedro Almodóvar be eligible with every release even if Spain doesn't submit him? It seems like the rules as is don't reflect success stories but only attempt to cause them (unlike every other category). 

Dylan: Cast 4 child/teen actors in a middle school production of "God of Carnage".
What's with all the "young actor" questions this week? This one made me LOL so I had to respond. It's so Bugsy Malone. Tweens and young teens in these purposefully middle age roles is just so wrong. It's as wrong as that classic Onion piece about the grade school production of Equus or Anna Kendrick's age inappropriate rendition of "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch" in Camp (2003). I'm sure someone with more familiarity with young actors would have more fun doing this. ANYONE WANNA TAKE THIS QUESTION ON? Honestly, I tend to not pay much attention until actors are adults -- I like fully formed or visibly forming star personas way more than embryonic blank slates. The only time I think about the teen actors (who are usually on television which I don't watch as much of) is when they're just so good that I can't ignore them (like Evan Rachel Wood in thirteen. Holy hell but that was a great performance. I want a recount of those Oscar votes that led to the "youngest Best Actress nominee ever"... it was just the wrong one).

One thing I would like to see is Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning at war onscreen so maybe I should cast them both here in the Jodie/MarciaGay  & Kate/Hope roles? Who cares about the guys!

Jorge: From the 'Inception' top supporting players (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy), who do you think will be the next to get an Oscar nomination?

Or you think it will be Page, Cotillard or Caine to get a second one sooner than those two?"
I think Cotillard mostly due to the amount and the type of roles she's offered in prestige projects. JGL's problem is that he's still a bit too young for Oscar (they are so weirdly ageist in opposite ways with men and women) and I think Tom Hardy's problem may be the physicality of his roles. Oscar seems to reacts to attention-grabbing male physiques best if they're in distress (i.e. weight gains, weight losses, disabilities, etcetera) and Hardy's physicality has become such a focus of his work that I think that might be hard to get around for people in terms of people recognizing him for his acting talent alone.

Dean: Which of the following films would you most want to see made, and who stars and directs: Extreme Tinker MarthaLoud Tailor MarcyIncredible Soldier MayClose Spy Marlene?
I have to give you mad points for originality, combining three of this year's wordiest movie titles to make four theoretical but awesome sounding movies. I want to see all four actually but I'm most partial to Loud Tailor Marcy because I picture a, like, sassy comedy about a fashion designer's assistant starring some eccentric beauty with an oversize personality who cannot shut up. I want Ari Graynor for the lead role because she needs a plum vehicle and I want David O. Russell to direct it since I worship his smart and chaotic comedic sensibility. My second choice is Extreme Tinker Martha for which I have to have Ellen Page on the condition that she never has to spout any exposition because that just killed her in Inception. I want to love her again. (To be directed by...?)


Craig: Which actress (or actresses) from Hollywood's Golden Age could have a career today? Conversely, which of today's acclaimed actresses would have had stardom 70 years ago?
I think the obvious choice is Barbara Stanwyck. She had a certain ease with genre-hopping (how many people are equally good at playing dangerous women in noirs and goofy screwball comedy goddesses?) which I think today's stars have to do more of. Plus, she reads modern. (I'd love to think that Bette Davis would be equally huge in today's Hollywood but the sad truth is there probably wouldn't be so many projects built around her thorny persona and non-traditional beauty.) Drew Barrymore would have been a star in any era, but I think since her persona leans so cheerful and flirtatious without being overtly erotic, I think she would have excelled in the studio system which, at least for mainstream comedies, had way better scripts. Romantic Comedies were once one of the smartest of movie genres. I know I know; impossible to imagine even though it's true.

Stanwyck Vs. Barrymore

I've said before that Charlize Theron would have done much better in the past, where her innate glamour would not have had to be separated from her actual acting skill -- back then they could use both at once which is so much less true today in the obsessive need for naturalism in movies. Using that same formula: Uma Thurman. Two younger options (who have worked together) both of which I absolutely believe qualify for this question: Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt.

I'd love to hear readers take on this one. It's equally interesting to think of the reverse. I don't think, for example, that my two redhead godesses Julianne & Nicole would have fared as well in old Hollywood, despite their very impressive gifts. 

So... YOUR TURN in the comments!