Film Bitch History
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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
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Entries in Liza Minnelli (37)



My New Plaid Pants asked a very smart question of Vera Farmiga. What is her deal with playing mother to murderous children? She'll play Norma Bates for a Psycho prequel tv series.
Playbill Megan Hilty continues her Marilynization with the cast recording of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes "Little Girl from Little Rock" ...♥ Hilty!
Advocate Evan Rachel Wood considering the lead in a girl truck driver drama. Although honestly, I can't imagine what a cross between Smokey & The Bandit and Thelma & Louise, as its described, would possibly be like... tonally speaking.

Movie|Line god bless Ryan Gosling. Hollywood was slow to hand Christina Hendricks the leading roles she deserves but her Drive leading man is now providing one. The film, his directorial debut, is a noir called How To Catch a Monster. Now that that problem has been resolved... can someone hand her the Emmy she also deserves?!
Stale Popcorn reacts to the news that his beloved Jamie Bell will appear in Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac

i09 on the desperation Warner Bros / DC must be feeling having let Joss Whedon get away (via their Wonder Woman squashing). Now what to do with The Justice League movie? What to do. Meanwhile...
Vulture Joss Whedon is beginning work on S.H.I.E.L.D. your weekly televised dose of the Marvel Universe and is married to Marvel indefinitely on multiple projects
CHUD apparently Rachel Weisz has been cut out of Terence Malick's To the Wonder entirely. Oh Malick. You're so unpredictable and predictable simultaneously. 
Empire Online Charlize Theron may star in a Marie Colvin biopic. Maybe she wants a second Oscar? Biopics are the way to go. 
Vulture Matt Zoller Seitz on Louie's brilliance

Advocate Barbra Streisand's next album -- just one month away -- is a collection of unreleased material, including "I Think It's Going To Rain Today". That's such a great song but I can't live without Bette's version from Beaches so nothing else will measure up! Do you think this winter holds a major Babs revival what with this CD in the fall and The Guilt Trip coming to movie theaters for Christmas?
Broadway Blog uncovers an old performance duet between Liza Minnelli and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Tom @ The Broadway Blog finds so many wonderful thing.
Interiors on the great Lost in Translation (2003)

Sofia Coppola creates an impossible scenario using the space of the hotel room; she brings two married people, puts them in bed together, and somehow makes their entire encounter feel innocent.

That film sure is aging well, right?


Sally Bowles' Father.

Inspired by his experiences as a young man in 1930s Germany, author Christopher Isherwood (who was born on a day like today in 1904) created Sally Bowles as a symbol of the joyful decadence of the era. Sally first appeared in a novella carrying her name and then appeared once more in Goodbye Berlin, Isherwood's most famous work. Although Isherwood created many other memorable characters, (he wrote A Single Man) Sally remains the most iconic of his creations, having won awards and accolades for actresses who played her like Julie Harris (who won her first Tony playing her) and most famously Liza Minnelli who brought her to life in the musical Cabaret.

Why not celebrate Isherwood by rewatching Bob Fosse's masterpiece? Who are your favorite Isherwood characters? Which of his stories would you like to see as a movie?


Rose McGowan Has No Interest in "Real". Do you?

I have no interest in 'real.' I find real people boring."

Those telling words were spoken by the actress Rose McGowan on the penultimate episode of the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race. I suddenly appreciate Rose more. It's true that reality is not exactly her forte. She's best known as a television witch and when popular culture eventually forgets her, isn't it entirely likely that the single enduring image from her career will be that Grindhouse chick with a machine gun for a leg. It doesn't get more much unreal than that. 

The final four drag contestants were the acclaimed Cher-loving Chad Michaels, the large glamourous Latrice Royale, "busted show queen" Phi Phi O'Hara and funny spooky Sharon Needles. I knew that hateful Phi Phi would make the final three because someone despicable always makes it to reality tv finales. But never mind that. Let's talk movie references! (We'll get back to movies soon but we're clearly having a 24 hour television binge)

Sharon Needles won much movie-movie praise from Rose McGowan...

If somehow Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Jean Harlow had a baby and threw it in white puffy boots with the perfect poodle, it would be you.❞
-Rose McGowan to Sharon Needles. 

I'm not sure how she gets Sally Bowles and Jean Harlow (other than the hair color) out of Sharon's severe chic poodle look but it's wonderful to hear actressy icons referenced in contemporary contexts. Which is part of the reason RuPaul's Drag Race is so great --  there are always a couple of actressexuals in the cast who can't help but reference the movie and music divas.

Meanwhile Chad Michaels went for a Cruella de Vil inspired look (and was shamed for it -- "too old") but when she took off the furry wrap, she looked like a superhero. A retired superhero maybe but still...

Do you find reality boring?

How do you like your Rose McGowan?

Who are you rooting for to win RuPaul's Drag Race? 


Judy Fest: "For Me and My Gal"

Bless the Walter Reade theater and The Film Society of Lincoln Center. This summer has been so trying in so many ways, but the Judy Garland retrospective is bliss. It helps that the Walter Reade is such a great place to see older films what with great air conditioning, comfortable seats and a big screen. The same can't (unfortunately) be said for the other prime NYC HQ for cinephiles (Film Forum). Anyway, people often think of Judy as an icon of tragic catharsis: heartbreak voice, trembling gesture, short life... but then you see the movies and she's just got charm for miles, a full range from light touch to direct hit, and she's funny and dazzling.  Watching her proves far more joyous than tearful though sometimes the two come together.

I caught two consecutive features earlier this week from the brief moment between her ascendance (Dorothy Gale + all those Mickey Rooney pictures) and adult superstardom (Meet Me In St. Louis).  Both pictures were made around her 20th year, as she left teen stardom behind. 

For Me and My Gal (1942)
This was the first of Judy Garland's three pairings with Gene Kelly (and his film debut!) and the first picture where she alone was billed above the title, indicating Hollywood's new confidence in her bankability. It's a period piece with Gene & Judy playing low rent vaudeville act "Palmer & Hayden". They're attempting to up their game and become headliners at the Palace (New York) just as Judy's brother and all able bodied young men are being shipped off to World War I. Palmer (Kelly) doesn't want to go when the draft hits him and this relentless career drive looks like cowardice and lack of patriotism to everyone including Hayden (Garland).

Two of the movie musical's greatest bond over song and dance. It's a little bit like that famous scene in ONCE (2007) actually, a kindred spirit discovered at the piano.

The film peaks quite early with the title song, a thrilling example of what modern musicals are always forgetting: songs are supposed to move the story along! "For Me and My Gal" was an old standard at the time -- this is essentially a jukebox musical like Singin' in the Rain -- but it's used as a plot device, the performance of which, falsely casual over coffee, is a sneaky ploy by loveable cad Palmer (Kelly) to win innocent Hayden (Kelly) away from her current act.

As anyone who's ever seen Kelly & Garland perform together knows, they're a match. The ploy will work. That swoony soft tenor of Kelly's, the aural equivalent of a randy comfortable blanket for vocal partners to take to their beds, just nuzzles right up to her more powerful alto, and let's it do the heavier breathing while he moves. And oh how he moves. John Fricke, noted Garland historian, was on hand to introduce the film and he shared that Kelly credited Judy with teaching him how to act for the camera. He didn't yet know how subtly you can play for the camera as opposed to the stage (Before this film he'd become a Broadway sensation in "Pal Joey" and Garland lobbied to hand him this debut.). You can see Kelly's learning curve in this film but as a song and dance man, he just can't be beat. 

I amend. The film peaks a little later than that, when Judy sings "After You're Gone" which would become a concert staple for her (see below). 

You can chalk up the song's staying power to the weird combo of its fickle tempo changes and Garland's unfaltering emotional control of its content. The film version of this number (I couldn't find a good video), takes place in a improvisational hurry because Kelly has been seeing another woman (Márta Eggerth -- more on her in the next post) and is late to their performance. Garland is essentially selling the song AND three separate character and plot points within its ebbs and crescendos: Hayden's ascendance into a confident entertainer who is able to leave her personal drama offstage, a young girl's immediate and unruly love for a man who is clearly trouble, and a maturing woman's worry about their future as partners. The song is prophecy, future tense, but Garland manages to sell her character's past, immediate present and future depending on the note.


The film's second half -- once we arrive at draft dodging and war bond selling patriotism and even an actual grenade throwing war sequence, is weirdly ungainly and choppy. But the film is definitely worth seeing as a milestone in three of the greatest careers within cinema's musical genre: Garland's, Kelly's, and director Busby Berkeley who considered For Me and My Gal his best film. (People aren't always the best judges of their own work but that's still something.

For Me and My Gal (first half: B+; second half: B-)

As exit music, why not Gene Kelly dueting with wee Liza on the title track years and years after her mama's movie hit it big?

Isn't that sweet?

Next up... the other film from this time period, with some interesting similarities Presenting Lily Mars (1943)


Liza with a Z(owie!)

Thanks to PopBytes for alerting me -- MK is as big a Liza fan as me -- Check out this new photoshoot of 65 year old Liza Minnelli by celebrity photographer Terry Richardson.

Wowie-Zowie. Life is still a cabaret. The pics were shot for the UK's "Love" magazine.


More fun shots after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Links: Refn Gosling Love, Tang Wei Wins, Green Lantern Bile

Alt Screen rounds up takes on Martin Scorsese's New York New York (1977) now that it's freshly released on Blu-Ray. Liza Minnelli is so great in that movie. I'm so excited to see it again. The Blu-Ray is still in its wrapping though. Must get to that soon.
Film Dr "12 notes comparing a purple bottle cap with Green Lantern" (One thing I deeply appreciated about dumbass movies like Green Lantern is the creativity they inspire in critics.)
<--- Movie|Line goes to the LA Premiere of Drive (2011) and enjoys Nicolas Winding Refn's freewheeling intro speech including this bit.

Now, I want to thank Ryan Gosling, because he gave me the opportunity to come to Hollywood and do this movie with him. It all started on a very strange blind date between us that led to a very strange, notsexual encounter, but it led to a mental creation between us. And of course, we couldn’t have done that without Jim Sallis’s book called Drive, which I highly recommend. 

i09 great find: an old "Equal Pay Act" PSA starring Batgirl from the Batman tv series.  ♥ 
Twitch has a series of neon movie posters from artist Mr Whaite. Here's Pulp Fiction.

I said god damn.

Pajiba "how homophobia lost its cool" good piece from a hetero man which kicks off with the homoeroticism of Michael Fassbender & James McAvoy in X-Men First Class
The Awl really lets loose the bile with Green Lantern and what's become of a too dominante subgenre of movies. (Note: We all know that reviews do not exist in a cultural vacuum so will the mass hatred for Green Lantern help or hurt Captain America reviews next month? It could go either way...) 
IndieWire Vera Farmiga hits Provincetown to promote Higher Ground 


I'd like to personally congratulate Tang Wei, who many fine actress connoisseurs have been rooting for ever since her startling debut in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (2007). In the past two months she's picked up not one but two awards for recent performances in the romantic films Crossing Hennessy and Late Autumn. To make those rewards more impressive, one was from China (and remember they forbade her from working for a time after the sexual explicitness of Lust, Caution) and the other was a Korean Award which had reportedly never gone to a Chinese actress before. You can see her winning that one in this clip below. (She starts in Korean, switches to English, and then moves over to her native tongue.)

Will Crossing Hennessy and Late Autumn ever make it to US or European theaters? Stay tuned.