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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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Mad Men Returns - The Premiere

"I'm so looking forward to this final season, and will be sad to see the show go. I think it's unrivaled, especially as period pieces go." -Joseph

"I will miss the sets, I will miss the clothes, I will miss the movies, I will miss discussing the endless discussion of the closing song while the credits run." -Leslie



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Entries in My So Called Life (3)


The Triumphant Return of Jared Leto (Don't Expect a Quick Encore)

Jared Leto's first claim on our hearts was, if you trust the fictional Angela Chase, the way he leaned. I've long maintained that Jordan Catalano would not be an easy part to play - it's all suggestion and no delivery required in order to satisfy every projection. The ability to embody the most beautiful blank slate that ever walked a high school hallway is a gift, but such gifts come with expiration dates. Leto's transition from dreamy heartthrob, a part he never seemed to cherish, to daring film star, a part to which he is obviously more aesthetically inclined, was long and haphazard. Many films went nowhere. The most successful of them, a pair of thrillers from David Fincher, even seemed like a direct revolt against his own beauty (consider the cornrows in Panic Room and the entire thrust of his Fight Club role -- "I felt like destroying something beautiful").

Rock Star Actor and His Latest Creation

Instead Jared leaned into his second career as a rock star. After a long sabbatical from acting, he's returned to screens as Rayon, a transexual drug addict in the 80s set AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club. He's finally found the role to bridge that earlier divide and replace Jordan Catalano in the public imagination. To hear Leto tell it, as I did when we spoke over the phone just before he was (figuratively) buried in an avalanche of awards, we might never had had his Rayon without that time in the wilderness.

"I'm a big believer that we learn from everything we do." he explains. "I hadn't made a film in 5 or 6 years and  in that time I was doing a lot of directing and editing and a lot of creative things, touring  all over the world and on stage in front of millions of people  from Lebanon to China to Africa and beyond. I think the five or six years I took and explored life made me a better actor. I don't think I would have been able to bring Rayon to life had I not lived a life."

Not that Rayon is without precedent in his filmography... [more]

Click to read more ...


Red Carpet Convo: My So-Called "Punk"

In Red Carpet Convos, we discuss what the actresses are wearing. Which is really an elaborate excuse (not that we need another) to talk actresses. Today's returning guest is Courtney Enlow Hall from Pajiba.

NATHANIEL: Hi Courtney! Welcome back to Red Carpet Convos. This time I will try not to ask you to draw any pigs dressed as Janell Monae.

COURTNEY: Well as you know I'm exceptionally good at that, so I'm sad about this.

NATHANIEL: This week the celebs came out for the annual MET GALA and the theme was "Punk". Because The Met is SO counter-culture, you know.

COURTNEY: The Met is punk as fuck, Ryan Adams-style.

Ginny, Diaz, JLo, Kerry, and Angela Chase

NATHANIEL: Actually maybe it is rebellious to go to a museum instead of sitting at home watching reality tv. I rescind my comment. The interesting thing to me about the looks we're about to see is it seems like only some actresses have any working knowledge of what "punk" is. Let's start with Ginnifer Goodwin. I think she gets it.

Or at least her eye makeup does...

"my so-called punk", weeping ex-boyfriends, and eyeliner mantras after the jump

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Hit Me: Natalie Wood and "Rebel Without a Cause"

It's time to wrap up the Hit Me With Your Best Shot season with a 1955 classic. Why this one? Well, today would've been Natalie Wood's 73rd birthday and we love ourselves some Natalie Wood. She was, in fact, Nathaniel's first actress obsession, an obsession formed in the late 70s while watching TV airings of various 50s & 60s movies (with an emphasis on West Side Story which has its 50th anniversary this fall!).

Natalie suddenly died in 1981, drowning as you know, after falling from a yacht during a break from filming her last picture Brainstorm (which was later released in 1983). Wee Nathaniel was heartbroken. Enough with the third person but I needed the distance; this one hits so close to home. Let it suffice to say that it was the first time I'd ever lost anyone I loved, virtual or otherwise. I hadn't even lost a pet at that point in life! The heartache maybe felt as formative as Natalie's in Splendor in the Grass; a first love never to be forgotten if you will.

Today we're talking about Rebel Without a Cause (1955) because it gave Natalie her first of three Oscar nominations and because we've been thinking about "first love" and high school lately. (See, we've recently started rewatching Angela Chase falling for Jordan Catalano on Netflix.)

The Nicholas Ray movie -- part of that unassailable James Dean Trinity -- is a spectacularly enduring piece of teen angst. It's as mesmerizing and febrile with feeling today as we assume it was in 1955 even though it's now most decidedly a period piece. But this happens to all contemporary entertainments... the period part I mean. (The enduring part only happens to the lucky or the brilliant. Have you seen My So Called Life lately? It's just as great 17 years later only now it's as much a period piece as Rebel -- it's soooo '90s.) Time marches on.

Best Shot

This beautifully sustained shot (it lasts for over a minute) captures two era-defining icons of youth in what can accurately be described as langurous mutual auto-eroticism. Judy (Wood) and Jim (Dean) barely ever look at each other in this sequence, letting their bodies and their voices do all the communicating. But aren't they still in their own little worlds, only dreaming of colliding?

Directors rarely hold the camera on two faces simultaneously anymore and that's nothing but one of the greatest losses for the cinema. All great movie stars are auto-erotic, their principal love affair being with the camera rather than co-stars, but when they share a frame the power can feel infinite. (For a comic counterpoint example of this same face-pressing double whammy magic, see The Lady Eve with that sensationally funny scene where Barbara Stanwyck babbles incessantly while rubbing her face against an overheated Henry Fonda.) In this case the dual star magnetism doubles as youthful dreaming, disconnected from reality, though Judy and Jim are, in fact, speaking about connection. Judy is philosophizing about friendship, character, and love. She's about to launch into her famous "I love somebody" speech, the "somebody" is telling as she's caressing a man who is still more of an abstraction than a reality to her. Jimmy interjects.

We're not going to be lonely anymore. Ever ever. Not you or me.

The scene is heartbreaking for any number of reasons both for what precedes it and for what follows (poor Plato!), but mostly because you recognize it as a false prophecy, born of the loneliness it's trying to banish. Judy & Jim have long long lives ahead of them even if Dean and Wood didn't. Loneliness never stays away for good.

Rebels of the 'Best Shot' Cause

  • Film Actually sees Rebel for the first time and contemplates that issue-heavy love triangle.
  • Movies Kick Ass "Let's not ask the moon" is there a world larger than teenage problems?
  • Clearly Up To No Good --- this is really cool. It's four themed photo folders. I love "Plato's Closet" and "Living on the Edge". Lovely
  • Awww the Movies the looks.
  • Stale Popcorn a dynamic shift in "family"