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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Introducing (19)


Introducing... The Supporting Actresses of 1948

It's your last day to vote on the Smackdown! Send in those ballots

Since your collective interest in pre '70s film years is often less robust, consider this an attempt to pump up your excitement levels with a teaser for this weekend's Smackdown. How are our contestants introduced in their movies, how soon, and is it clear from scene one that they'll be Oscar-nominated?

We'll take them in the order in which they appear in their movies, starting with "The End." Wait, what? Oh never fear it's just an ol' hoary framing device for our first contender, who's just finished writing the stories we're about to see unfold onscreen at the very beginning of her movie. 


Click to read more ...


David What?

Please join us in welcoming the fine actor David Dastmalchian, a busy actor we've been loving since we first spotted him in The Dark Knight (2008) and who you'll soon see this summer in both Ant-Man (2015) and Animals (2015). He's the first of our special guest blogging actors this summer!
- Editor. 

David Dastmalchian © Caleb Condit

Hi!  I’m thrilled to be guest blogging for Nathaniel this week.  I'll take over tomorrow for a day. I’ve been following the the site for a long time and was thrilled when he asked me to Guest Star in anticipation of the upcoming release of Animals (2015) on May 15th.  (Guest Starring is SO much better than Co-starring FYI)   

Let’s see – you may or may not recognize me from my roles in some pretty cool films, some TV shows, a few hamburger commercials… on stage???  I’ve definitely played my fair share of what some may describe as “bad guys” (my sister calls them “psychos”) though I prefer to think of them all as misunderstood innocents trapped in circumstances beyond their control.  

In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008)I was playing “Guard” and “Montano” in a production of ‘Othello’ at a wonderful regional theater in Chicago (Writer’s Theater) when I had a chance to audition for a bank-robbing clown in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.  By a stroke of miraculous luck, I was cast as The Joker’s schizophrenic henchman, Thomas, and my journey as an actor changed – my dream of working in film began to materialize and I hit the road.  I was in NYC long enough to meet the love of my life and then moved to Los Angeles where I’ve lived since 2011. 

Tomorrow I’m gonna really open up and pour my soul all over these digital pages – or at least hopefully do fun posts and tell you more about Animals.

And most importantly – teach you how to properly pronounce my name.  David (Day-vid) Dastmalchian (Dast-mol-chin).  The phonetic trick for my last name is to imagine you’re saying “This small chin” but really fast.  Go ahead, try it…

On the set of Prisoners (2013) © Wilson Webb

Until tomorrow...


Introducing... Fraulein Maria

Season 6 of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" Begins!

The original premise of the Best Shot series was a short essay on ONE screen capture from a film, "best" being in the eye of the beholder, and thus the fascination since movies are communal but we see them individually. Everyone cheats with multiple shots and full movie reviews -  I'm the worst ! -- so In an altogether herculean effort to pare it back to the premise (*he begins to sweat*) I will only allow myself two screenshots today and one topic (gulp). For my sanity I've restricted myself to the film's first half, pre-intermission. We can always write about The Sound of Music again. 

Let's talk about the act of opening your heart up wide to fall in love, with all the risks that that entails... such as loving a movie that sophisticated cinephiles are not supposed to love, and loving a stranger who you don't yet understand. [More...]

Click to read more ...


FYC: Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice" for Best Supporting Actor

And so we come to the end of our individually chosen FYCs. Amir, our team coordinator, is off for a month long holiday (!) which leaves myself, Nathaniel, your immortal but ever running-late host to wrap things up. To recap: we asked each team member to write up a personal favorite longshot* from one specific category. Here's the final entry in the series, a performance I really love in a film I really don't.

Why highlight a film I don't care for? Because it's important to remember during all-or-nothing awards season that each individual element of a film is different than the big picture and ought to be treated as such for the purposes of awardage.

Which brings us to...

See, it wasn't just the eternal sunshine of California or the vast vistas of desert land and salt water. It wasn't even really the hazy hash-filled air that P.T. Anderson's troupe was breathing. But I was parched and hungry the whole time I was watching Inherent Vice. I needed a fresh water oasis in the salty Pynchonian desert and Josh Brolin came to my rescue as "Bigfoot". Repeatedly. Fortunately he was also hungry, orally fixated you might say, and an eager lunch companion.

Like many characters in the film he's introduced with wonderfully descriptive prose that one assumes is lifted from the novel for voiceover. Brolin's introduction is in glorious widescreen longshot. The V.O.:

Like a bad luck planet in today's horoscope, here's the ol' hippie-hating mad dog himself in the flesh, Lieutenant Detective Christian F. "Big Foot" Bjornsen, SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top, of Flintstone proportions, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eyes that says 'civil rights violations'" 

Brolin just owns this, presenting as a black & white Western rectangle stiffly inserting itself into the movie's otherwise geometrically ragged and fringed array of colorful people. Of course you can't see an evil shit twinkle in someone's eyes in long or medium shot but you can hear it in their voice.

Congratulations hippie scum! Welcome to a world of inconvenience"

Immediately we move to Bigfoot's office where the detective taunts Doc Sportello with carefully chosen words and obscene self-lubricated hand gestures; he's always shoving things into his mouth: frozen bananas, fingers, diner food. Brolin's line readings aren't just well delivered but perfectly balanced and heaped, as if he's collecting the best syllables on a fork, whichever wons have the most condescending flavor. The actor captures how natural all of this comes to Bigfoot now, that its both performative for Doc and completely innate in Bigfoot's character (we instantly register that the performance is now the reality after numerous pre-movie variations of these same conversations between the two detectives) since he's even doing the same things when he's out of view on the phone or half lost in his own strictly business thoughts when he's eating.

BigFoot's buzzkill nature would be suffocating if Brolin didn't find so many ways to play the notes. And though Bigfoot is mean to stand in opposition to the movie's other characters, he'd be totally at odds with the movie's loose hippie daze tone if he also weren't so damn funny. There are a great many people who think Inherent Vice is a good time movie in and of itself. Whether or not that proves to be your experience know this: it's a far greater party every single time Josh Brolin shows up to crash it.

Motto pankēki!" 

*I selected Brolin before his BFCA nomination so perhaps he's not quite as improbable as expected in a low key supporting actor competition, so I'm crossing my fingers... or licking them in Bigfoot's honor.


Each Longshot FYCs In Case You Missed Any
Actor, Locke | Actress, Belle | Supp. Actress, Gone Girl | Supp. Actor, Inherent Vice
Picture, Obvious Child |  Adapted Screenplay, A Most Wanted Man 
Sound Mixing, Grand Budapest HotelCostume, The Boxtrolls 
Cinematography, Homesman | Prod. Design, Enemy | Editing, Citizenfour  

Short-Lived Longshot FYCs = Academy Thought Otherwise
Makeup, Only Lovers Left Alive (eliminated) | FX, Under the Skin (eliminated)
Screenplay, The Babadook (ineligible) | ScoreThe Immigrant (eliminated)


Introducing... The Supporting Actress Nominees of 1989

It's just a few days until the Smackdown of 1989. Have you voted yet? You've met our panel, now let's meet the Supporting Actress nominees we'll be discussing as they're introduced in their movies. If you hadn't yet seen the movie would you be expecting an Oscar nomination from their first scene? What do the scenes telegraph to the audience?

1 minute in Meet "Mrs Brown" (Brenda Fricker in My Left Foot)
We see Christy Brown's mother before we see Christy Brown (Daniel Day Lewis)... unless you count his eponymous appendage. But it's merely during the credit sequence so we only glean that she's the mum and that they're going somewhere special since she checks herself in the mirror. It doesn't take long to understand her importance. At the end of the first full scene we see a painting Christy made of her with a slow zoom that dissolves into flashback in a maternity ward - a mighty clue that she's absolutely central to the movie. 

A pink-loving bride and three more real characters after the jump

Click to read more ...


Introducing Pt 2... Blair and Candy

Previously on "Introducing"Tatum, Sylvia & Madeline

It's just 3 days until the Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1973. Bless StinkyLulu for dreaming up this event years ago because it's still so fun. But first some unfinished introductions: how do Candy Clark and Linda Blair enter their movies. If you hadn't yet seen the movie would you be expecting an Oscar nomination from these first scenes? What do the scenes telegraph for first time viewing? 

Sure do love you.

Hi, Mom!

11½ minutes in. Meet "Regan" (Linda Blair in The Exorcist)
How fitting that she first appears in bed, since she'll spend the bulk of the movie in one albeit it under far more horrific circumstances than a good night's sleep. As the scene begins her mother Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) has heard noises in her Georgetown rental and checks on her daughter first. Sound asleep. But there's a telling pan left to the open window, curtains blowing, and despite the maternal warmth and blissful lack of scoring or over-done sound design at this moment (it does sound plausibly like a rat or racoon in the attic) the scene is subtly chilling. The Exorcist understands the slow build and modulation and starts pianisssimo.  Chris kisses her daughter and pulls the covers up. When we see Regan again five minutes later she's just a typical bouncy teenager who talks pretty horses and steals cookies. If you'd never heard of The Exorcist before you first saw it (fat chance) you could safely assume that both the mom and the daughter might soon be in peril, but nothing else. The Exorcist establishes home life normalcy first before demonic insanity betrays its fragility.

Babe. What a bitchin' babe!

30¾ minutes in. Meet "Debbie" (Candy Clark in American Graffiti)
American Graffiti is about four friends after high school graduation but by the half hour mark they've all split up and the film becomes four parallel films as they cruise around the strip in different cars or on foot. We meet so many characters, first spotted from car windows, including one previous blonde fantasy girl that Debbie's entrance doesn't seem major... at first. Initially Debbie is presented in completely objectified fashion as Terry (Charles Martin Smith) calls her a Babe (to himself) and hears other men cat call her. He follows her in the car and she's getting nervous in this neighborhood and walks faster. But after a minute of fruitless one-sided conversation from his car he tells her she looks like Connie Stevens. Her temperature changes and she beelines straight for him, suddenly a different person. It's a special entrance just from Clark's offkilter switch. She's the one suddenly objectifying... only its the car she's lustfully eyeing and possibly more compliments, too.

She'd get the ultimate compliment with an Oscar nomination.

Be here on Thursday afternoon when our awesome panel discusses these five nominated performances in the monthly Smackdown event. This is your last day to vote on the 1973 supporting actress shortlist by sending me heart ratings -- for only the ones you've seen -- on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being unimproveable feats of acting. (Reminder: Next month is 1989)


Introducing Pt 1... Supporting Actresses of 1973

You've met our awesome panelists (Dana Delany, Karina Longworth, Mark Harris, Bill Chambers, Kyle Turner, and myself, Nathaniel) and on July 31st when the Smackdown arrives you'll hear from us again. Let's meet the characters we'll be discussing.

As is our new Smackdown tradition we begin by showing you how the performances themselves begin. There's usually some point in every nominated performance when it clicks in... here's the scene that did it. That can come as early as the introduction for some characters. At the very least the intro is the springboard for every thing you'll see about the character from then on. Do these introductions scream "shower me with gold statues!"? Do the filmmakers prepare us for what's ahead? Here's how 3 of the 5 nominees are introduced in the order of how quickly they arrive in their movies.

[No Dialogue]

Immediately. Meet "Addie Loggins" (Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon)
This is the first shot of Paper Moon and the camera will rarely leave little Addie (Tatum O'Neal) again in the greatest case of Category Fraud ever perpetrated at the Oscars. She is staring tearless into her mother's freshly dug grave, flanked by unaffectionate adults who immediately pawn her off post-funeral to a stranger who bears a striking resemblance (Ryan O'Neal). He's meant to drive her to only kin, an Aunt she doesn't know. Tatum's/Addie's resistance to charming you or her co-stars actually proves better than charming, drawing you completely in to that poker face. Three minutes later she finally speaks and seems less child-like; she's all business, suspiciously scoping out her new situation and this "friend" of her mother's. 

Rita: Who is this?
Mrs Pritchett: Who do you think it is?
Rita: Why do you sound so strange?
Mrs Pritchett: I'm at Saks. 

5 minutes in. Meet "Mrs Pritchett" (Sylvia Sidney in Summer Wishes Winter Dreams)
We've spent enough time with Rita (Joanne Woodward), our protagonist, to know that she's neurotic and unhappy; the first scene is an actual nightmare. A phone call wakes her up. Disoriented from sleeping she doesn't recognize her own mother's voice. (That's Sylvia Sidney who today's moviegoers probably remember best from Beetlejuice.) Forget the dialogue as being at Saks is hardly a strange occurence judging from her expensive clothing and multiple shopping bags. The picture of their relationship is instantly clear: they bicker, they're terse with each other, they meet every week for lunch which is why the mother is calling and what they're about to do. One assumes then that the picture will be an acidic mother/daughter drama. But is that what's coming?

Now don't you drop nuthin' Imogene. You take care of those breakables, y'understand?

40 minutes in. Meet "Trixie Delight" (Madeline Kahn in Paper Moon)
This is one of those highlighted intros that a movie prepares you for, shouting 'New Chapter'.  It draws its comic energy from the "cut to". We're sitting in a hotel room with Addie and her exasperated shouting Daddy who explains that there'll be two new women in the car, a "lady" and her maid...


Cut to: Madeline Kahn strutting out of the carnival's nudie tent "HAREM SLAVE - WORLD FAMOUS GIRLS", boobs bouncing. A real lady from a good family, eh? Kahn wins her first big laugh with literally her first second of screen time. There will be more. 

Do the introductions make you want to see more?
(In part 2 we'll look at the other nominees)

[If you'd like to participate in the Smackdown make sure to vote on the nominated performances (only the ones you've seen please, underseen performances are not penalized as votes are averaged out) by rating the nominees on a scale of 1 (inadequate) to 5 (beyond excellent) hearts.]