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Entries in Liz Taylor (54)

Friday
Jun242016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt. 4: "The Exorcism"

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Directed by Mike Nichols | Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the play by Edward Albee
Released by Warner Bros on June 22nd, 1966
Nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5.

Four-Part 50th Anniversary Celebration
Pt 1 "What. A.Dump!" by Nathaniel R
Pt 2 "Firing Squads & Flop Sweat" by Daniel Crooke
Pt 3 "Get the Guests" by Kyle Stevens (author of "Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and The Reinvention of Psychological Realism"

...and now the finale 

Pt 4 (Finale) by Chris Feil

Clink.Clink.

1:36:43 Sounds like Martha put her own ice in her drink this time, and not chewed it down. She's also dispensed of her tight "Sunday chapel dress" for looser fits. At only 3 outfits, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is surely Elizabeth Taylor's fewest costume changes ever on screen.

1:37:32 Nick’s putting his watch on now that their real round of Hump the Hostess is over. By the looks of these two, it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering to say the least.

Martha starts doling advice to Nick on how to take care of a drunk Honey, not unlike George's begrudging earlier attempts. The kind motherly expression on her face makes you wonder if her son has always been blonde-haired and green eyed before tonight.

1:39:00 Nick's pointing fingers as if he's exempt from the night's cruelty and absurdity. Luckily, Martha calls him out on his hypocrisy.

Relax. Sink into it. You're no better than anybody else.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun222016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt. 2: Firing Squads and Flop Sweat

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Oscar-winning classic, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style. In Chapter 1, Nathaniel discussed our first look at George and Martha as they "welcomed" Nick and Honey into their home for a late night boozy marital bout. The first true bomb had just gone off when George realized that Martha had broken their "rules"... we rejoin the party now as George strikes back.

 Pt 2 by Daniel Crooke

My first wallop by Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was in my early years of high school after developing a formative penchant for emotionally explosive character dramas, iconic Hollywood movie stars, and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Once I learned of this film’s existence, I snatched up the first secondhand DVD I could find. It may have proved a bad role model; I shouted and scowled around the house for days, hunched in doorways with a clinking tumbler full of iced tea. The drama was just too magnificent to leave on the screen and, especially in this section, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton have so much fun spitting poison that their hysterical wickedness becomes infectious.

Through my green teenage lens of inexperience, I thought George and Martha should divorce immediately, move on with their lives, and leave this self-destructive cycle in the rear view. Jesus, can you imagine their Tinder profiles? Now that time and experience have obliterated my preconceptions of the idyllic American relationship, I can plainly see that they need one another to survive. They’ve got an arrangement in their marriage that – however revolting or sadomasochistic it may seem to the outsider – more or less works for them.

32:11 ....As long as they stay within the bounds. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun212016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt 1: "What a Dump!" 

You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games*

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Mike Nichols
Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the play by Edward Albee
Released by Warner Bros on June 22nd, 1966
Nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5.

To celebrate the anniversary of this stone cold classic from 1966, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style, all week long as we did with RebeccaSilence of the Lambs, and Thelma & Louise.

Pt 1 by Nathaniel R
50th Anniversary Four Part Mini Series 

When I was a young teenager, a multiplex opened about a half hour from my house that, like every multiplex, showed whatever movies were in wide release. But here was something novel and unfortunately not copied by every multiplex in the land thereafter: they devoted one of their screens exclusively to charity -- the charity of young cinephilia that is. One of the screens, every showing of the day, only ran an older classic as if it were a new release. For an entire week! Then they'd switch movies. I've never again seen a multiplex do that and if it had been closer to home I would have been the most devoted patron. It was there that I first saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I thought it was an outstanding elegaic drama and though I freely admit I was too young to grasp its very adult comic brilliance, I'd rarely seen acting that electrifying. In 1966 when it first arrived the posters said "no one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent " Perhaps that was wise as it's wholly meant for adults.

00:01. It's fitting that our first shot is of the moon in the dead of night. George and Martha are not werewolves but beware all who enter George & Martha's lair; this is definitely a horror movie...

Before the score kicks in and the camera descends in longshot to look at a university house, which spills George (Oscar nominated Richard Burton) & Martha (Oscar winning Elizabeth Taylor) from its door and onto the campus sidewalk to stumble home, the orchestra sounds like its warming up. It's a perfect sonic nod to the property's live theater origins. A demented harpist is doing runs before Alex North's Oscar nominated score settles into something gently sorrowful. 

01:45 Already a favorite moment and the movie hasn't truly begin. As soon as the title card appears Elizabeth Taylor starts just cackling as Martha walks across the Virginia to the Woolf. George tells her to shut up because it's 2 AM. 

02:16 How lonely but not alone that shot is! How many times have George and Martha made this exact walk at night from that exact building and how many other couples have they tortured entertained in their home after just such a faculty party. I didn't think about these things the first time I saw it but now they're unavoidable mental associations.

Every time I've seen the movie since that first time, it's been just as electric only now the charge is coming from all corners of cast and crew (how about Haskell Wexler's Oscar winning cinematography!?) and not just the Movie Star Couple at the center. In fact, I felt nearly as aroused as George & Martha whenever they realize they've twisted the knife just right in the other's belly, when I queued up the movie again for this particular revisit. Since Liz begins the movie quoting Bette Davis, we'll do it, too, albeit from a different movie entirely.

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

04:00 Surely one of the great introductory shots in all of cinema, Martha flips on the light. We get our first good look at the central couple, blinking and boozed-up. They've seen better days. Martha takes a look around and starts doing Bette Davis gestural circles with her hand...  

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May052016

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

For no reason whatsoever that's what we're blogging at this moment! (Just humor me, okay? My back is in spasming pain.)

1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S. but 151 years later the topic is still on everyone's minds: see TV's Underground (any of you watching this?), the exciting news about Harriet Tubman on the $20 and two new biopics about her in the works, plus recent and current Best Picture types (Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave and possibly Birth of a Nation

1891 - Carnegie Hall (then named Music Hall) opened in NYC so that one day "JUDY! JUDY! JUDY!" could be recorded for posterity

1914 - Movie star Tyrone Power was born and we still don't have a biopic 102 years later even though Zac Efron would be perfect in the role

1927 - Pat Carroll is born so that 62 years later we might enjoy the genius of her voice in The Little Mermaid 

1955Damn Yankees opens on Broadway and quickly becomes the movie Damn Yankees (1958).

1981 - Bobby Sands dies of a hunger strike in prison. His last days inspire a movie which is just extraordinary and introduces the world to the genius filmmaker/muse partnership of  Steve McQueen & Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave). 

2000 - Freshly minted Oscar winner, mesmerizing new screen presence, brother-kissing and blood-vial wearing Angelina Jolie marries Billy Bob Thornton further confusing / fascinating the world. That same day in movie theaters Gladiator opens which delights the world, Oscar voters, and drunk Elizabeth Taylor

Gladiator!  

Thursday
Sep172015

1963 Look Back: Liz Taylor's 10 Best Looks From "Cleopatra"

Abstew kicks off our celebration of 1963 as we countdown to the next Smackdown (date TBA but probably early October)...

There's epic film making and then there's Cleopatra. Certainly in a class all of its own, the film spanned different countries, directors, stars, budgets, an original run time that clocked in at over six hours, and one legendary love affair far more interesting than the one being portrayed in the final film. Thanks to audiences wanting to see if La Liz and Richard Burton's explosive relationship off screen was able to be captured on the 70 mm Todd-AO celluloid, Cleopatra ended up being the #1 box office champion of 1963...and still ended up nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox. Originally budgeted at $2 million, the final budget ballooned into an unprecedented amount of $44 million (roughly over $300 million when judged for inflation today) including a million dollar contract for star Elizabeth Taylor, making her the highest paid performer at the time. (She ended up walking away with over $7 million due to delays and a percentage of the box office.)

And it feels like at least half of that inflated budget went toward Taylor's costumes alone. Setting a Guinness Book of World Record at the time, Taylor goes through 65 costume changes in the film and earned all 3 (yes, 3) of its Costume Designers the Oscar for their efforts. Renié was responsible for the women's costumes, Vittorio Nino Novarese created the men's, and thanks to Irene Sharaff, who was in charge of all of Elizabeth Taylor's looks, we have a sumptuous treasure trove of couture fit for a queen (or at least Hollywood royalty). Deciding on a more modern look and color palette than what would have actually been found in ancient Egypt at the time of the film's setting, Taylor's looks influenced early '60s fashion with an influx in Egyptian like jewelry and even inspired a Revlon "Syphinx" line of make-up. So in honor of the film's sartorial contributions to cinema, let's take a look at 10 of Elizabeth Taylor's best looks as the legendary Queen of the Nile...

10. Travel Rug Chic

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov242014

Beauty vs Beast: Guests Gotten, Hosts Humped

Howdy folks, it's Jason from MNPP here with a brand new round of "Beauty Vs Beast" and a brand new chance to pit the sorta-good against the sorta-bad, or the sorta in-between, and for us to choose our side with due diligence (at least with enough enough energy to click one way or the opposite). It was a slow creep realization when Mike Nichols died last week, what we'd lost - I'm not a Broadway person and as of late that's what I'd associated him with, so it was only once I started skimming back through his filmography, and once I read wonderful tributes like Nat's here, that my brain clicked into place that "Why yes, Jason, you've loved and been affected by a ton of this man's work for your entire life, duh." And so I've found myself going back and re-watching things I hadn't seen in many years - Working Girl (Sigourney MVP!) and Silkwood (probably my favorite Nichols film) and then today's piping hot dish of husband-wife combat for the ages...

 

 

If you're here in the US you'll probably spend sometime this week giving thanks to the turkey and stuffing for all the good stuff in your life, and I wouldn't blame anybody who placed these two performances on their Good Stuff Lists. Personally I'm Team George because 1) I've never been much of a Burton fan but I think he's phenomonal in this movie, and 2) I see way too much of myself in Martha, and that's the sort of thing you reflexively snap your eyes away from. You have one week to vote!

PREVIOUSLY Checking back in on the gorgeous ladies of 1870s society, last week's Age-of-Innocence Off ultimately sided with the poor unfortunate soul Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfieffer) over wily Winona's little Miss May; we do love a wounded bird. Said Murtada:

"Countess Olenska was way ahead of her time, a pioneer against vicious social mores. And she endured a false life despite getting a glimpse of a real one. Hasn't she suffered enough? She gets my vote."