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Entries in women who lie to themselves (15)


Stream This: The Others, The Piano, Inside Llewyn Davis

In the effort to stay au courant we'll alternate between Netflix and Amazon Prime for streaming news each week. And we'll freeze frame select titles at random places just for fun and see what image comes up. You know how we do! 


Felton: I look... is distinguished a word?
Lange: It's a word.

In Secret (2014, expires August 18th)
What is this? Oscar Isaac, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton and Jessica Lange? Big name casts for movies that don't seem to actually exist that you suddenly realize do, in fact, exist, are kind of unnerving. Like how do movies that never really get released find financing to get made in the first place? Apparently Oscar Isaac plays an artist in this one (they're looking at a portrait he painted of Felton) so that's kind of smudgy hot regardless. Isaac with paint stains I mean.

Men weren't up to the task!

Robocop (2014, expires august 18th) 
So that errant quote that popped up when I slid the bar to a random point in this useless movie is as good a quote as any to describe the foolhardiness of remaking a Paul Verhoeven picture. The Dutch auteur is many things but "remakeable" is not one of them. You've lost before you've begun essentially. See also the Total Recall remake and whichever one gets remade after that... maybe Basic Instinct?

seven more freeze framed films, some great/some terrible, after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Best Shot(s): The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Season 7 Episode 16

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
Written and Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus 

When you watch a lot of movies you inadvertently end up drawing comparisons between films that you wouldn't have thought to put in conversation previously. It's as if you've accidentally become a guest programmer of a repertory theater or a local festival. Such was the case this week when I (not intentionally) watched Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972) nearly back to back and shook my fists to the heavens and cursed the name of anyone who ever regurgitated the lie that you have to "open up" stage plays to make them work on screen. 

Tears. not totally bitter yet but she's getting there.

Sometimes half the power of a text is in its site-specific constriction. So I went from George & Martha's messy drab campus housing with a bar (or at least its contents) in every room, to the stylish studio apartment of fashion designer Petra Von Kant which was paradoxically both over-decorated and minimalist, and both frozen in place and ever-shifting without explanation (Wasn't the bed over there in the last scene? Can these mannequins move around the room at will like the toys in Pixar movies?). I loved every second of both films and especially, perhaps paradoxically for someone who prefers short movies, the foreboding sense that there was no way to exit either film, ever, unless you accepted your fate and drowned in their contagious neuroses.

All it takes to make a play cinematic when it becomes a movie is great filmmakers. That's it. That's the whole formula...

Click to read more ...


Kristen Wiig's Awards Bait: 'Crying in a Sweater'

Margaret here, bringing you the first of this year's Oscar-bait parodies and with it proof that awards season is fully upon us.

Kristen Wiig, on the promo circuit for Nasty Baby, used her spot as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to debut the trailer for her new "extremely independent" movie Crying in a Sweater (directed by Michael Bay). The title, if you can believe it, about covers it: Wiig lolls about tearfully in a series of sweaters while rhapsodic critical praise scrolls by. She's poking fun at the kind of dramatic low-budget Oscar hopeful that she's starred in more than once, but the result is silly enough that it doesn't read as snide.

My personal favorite performances in the Crying in a Sweater subgenre include Toni Collette in The Sixth Sense, Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game, and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, but the gold standard has to be Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give:


In fact, there's a lot of overlap here with the favored TFE movie category Women Who Lie to Themselves. Which prompts the question: what are your favorite crying-in-a-sweater performances? How many of them come from Women Who Lie to Themselves?


What Is It With Ruth Madoff and Actresses?

You've already heard that Michelle Pfeiffer is finally planning to work again for an HBO movie called Wizard of Lies. So let's give the story its proper due.

Pfeiffer in The Family / Ruth Madoff

(I included the Pfeiff News in the last link roundup but the Pfans among you didn't deem that sufficient. (I heard from a pflummoxed pfew by e-mail). Look, stop demanding my bonafides! I have been devoted to La Pfeiff since 1985 in. real. time. I've followed her long enough to take each new probject with a full brick of salt until I see footage. She is so skittish about working.)

For the moment at least she is planning to play Ruth Madoff in Wizard of Lies with Robert De Niro in the leading role of fraudulent financier Bernie Madoff. Aside from cameos and voice work this will be her first TV role since just before superstardom hit in 87/88. In her last film The Family, DeNiro (who is 72) and she had teenage children but they're aging up this time around and delicious/undervalued Alessandro Nivola (who is 43) will play their son. Frankly I'd rather see Alessandro romantically paired with Pfeiffer than playing her biological! She's closer to his age than De Niros (by one year - hee - as she's 14 years older than Nivola and 15 years younger than De Niro - but it counts! Especially since she's so foxy. And especially because Nivola is even hotter (it sounds impossible but it's totally true) when paired with actresses that are older than he is - think Frances McDormand in Laurel Canyon, Embeth Davidtz in Junebug and Emily Mortimer in real life (his wife is just one year older - but for this argument it counts ;) 

But back to the Madoffs.

It's worth noting here that Ruth Madoff has already been played by Cate Blanchett (kinda) in Blue Jasmine, and BEFORE Pfeiffer she'll be played by Blythe Danner in the ABC miniseries Madoff (currently filming) so the disgraced rich lady is really getting around among the actresses. It is kind of an instant classic dream role in the Women Who Lie To Themselves™ subgenre.

Blythe Danner and Richard Dreyfuss in Madoff, coming to ABC in 2016.

If Pfeiffer actually goes through with it, we can hope for an Emmy but won't hold our breath. Despite her fame and acclaim, she has never been an awards magnet only picking up an odd trophy here and there (the BAFTA for Dangerous Liaisons, the Silver Bear for Love Field, and several coveted prizes for Fabulous Baker Boys including the Globe, the NBR, and the holy trinity of critics prizes -- NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC -- before losing the Oscar for that role. ARGH x ∞).

But after both Blue Jasmine (2013) and ABC's Madoff (2016) will audiences and showbiz voters still be into this story for a third round in late 2016 or 2017? 


Lukewarm off the Presses: Tetris and Angry Birds Movies

All our jokes are coming true...

Margaret here, reminiscing back to when The LEGO Movie was first announced and we were all so dismissive and full of wisecracks. Hollywood must really be out of ideas, we said. What's next, a Tetris movie? 

Well, it's official: a big-budget, live-action Tetris movie is coming and there's nothing we can do about it. Cue the death knell for original stories! Also in the pipeline is an Angry Birds animated feature, which in addition to being less than inspired might also a bit past its moment. Sony has rounded up an enticing group of voice actors including Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Danielle Brooks, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Danny McBride; even so, the concept sounds destined for corporate tie-in mediocrity. Then again, that's what many predicted for The LEGO Movie, which turned out to be much better than it had any right to be. 

Perhaps even for the Tetris movie it's not too late. As yet there is no fixed plot or cast attached to the Tetris project. Brainstorm with me! How might we spin this in our favor? 

To start, here are some ideas for a Tetris movie in our favorite genre here at The Film Experience: Women Who Lie to Themselves

  • Julianne Moore is a celebrated game engineer, but in her personal life she just can't seem to make things fit. (Must include at least one extended crying jag.)
  • Lifelong friends Juliette Lewis and Emayatzy Corinealdi have inherited a factory that produces Tetriminos--apparently the official term for Tetris pieces-- and must rise to the challenge of managing it together.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer is a writer who, Adaptation-style, is tasked with writing a screenplay for a Tetris movie and grapples with artistic integrity and personal demons.

Pitch your ideas for a TFE-friendly Tetris movie in the comments!





"We don't like the twins" - On Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977)

I've seen 3 Women exactly 3 times. Look at me all numeriffic. Each time it shapes-shift fluidly like its still half submerged in the embryonic waters of pools, aquariums, nursing home baths, and dream floods that keep engulfing the women, particularly Sissy Spacek as "Pinky" (or "Mildred" depending on how you read the picture). She's the most permeable of them all.

Permeable, maybe, but never painlessly transforming; if the movie camera had never discovered Sissy Spacek's face in various stages of psychotic breaks (see also Carrie) it would have missed its calling entirely. 

The first time I saw the film it was like looking a crystal clear umbillical cord between Persona (1966) and Mulholland Dr (2001). The second time it was a singular experience, untethered to other films from my favorite genre (Women Who Lie To Themselves™) and played as a remarkable feat of interiority and actressing (Shelley Duvall won "Best Actress" at Cannes and that jury deserves a prize of its own for going there.). With this third screening 3 Women morphed into a messy horror comedy, a pitch black and deeply uncomfortable but still funny horror comedy about social autism, menstrual cycles, and the terrors of having no center and no support system to reinforce your youness. Follow?

Whichever film 3 Women is while you're watching it, it's impossible to miss its obsession with twins.

We don't like the twins. You'll learn about them soon enough"

Or, I'd argue more emphatically, its obsession with triplets; two identical, one fraternal. Though Altman's undervalued picture spends most of its time with the odd twosome of Millie (Duvall) and Pinky (Spacek) and though Pinky's initial trajectory seems to be very Single White Female in her urge to be with (or just be?) Millie, we're almost always dealing with triplets; the third is easy to miss, never identical and nearly always silent. Whether we're looking at actual twins (unfriendly blondes Polly & Peggy) or one woman reflected who appears to be two, or two women who appear to be three or four (reflections galore and too many images to screencap) or an actual rarer three-shot of the film's stars there's always some sort of triangulation going on when the image is placed in its narrative context.

Which is why my choice for "Best Shot" multiplies the multiples yet further and encapsulates absolutely everything that's so rich and weirdly specific yet vaguely disconnected about Millie and the movie itself. Millie has just been displaced from her own bedroom by Pinky when she returns to work and talks about nothing but Pinky.

I think she'll be back to work next week. The doctors really thought she was going to die. What's worse there could have been brain damage! 

Millie, singular and perpetually out of place Millie (note how Duvall towers over the other women like some absurd weed that needs pruning), trails her oblivious co-workers down the hallway in a continuous shot, talking non-stop as she does for the entire film. No one is listening despite her dramatic flourishes. Each of them are paired with their twin, literal or figurative ("Doris the Chinese one - she and I are best friends") shutting Millie out entirely. The last line as the undifferentiated women begin to dissipate out of the shot is brilliantly apt. It starts out all inclusive before it shuts someone out with its casually exclusive desperation. It's as lonely as Millie's foldout bed outside the now shuttered bedroom door. 

She asked about each and everyone one of you... especially the twins."

There's every reason to believe that Millie didn't like Pinky as her perpetual shadow/other before the medical drama. But now she's alone again. And what could be worse than that?

More 3 Women?
Here's a Visual Index of all the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" entries 'round the web. 

Oscar Shut-Out
Oscar voters had no time at all for 3 Women despite their fondness for Altman in the 1970s. I'd gladly hand it nominations for Actress, Director, and Art Direction for starters. In fact, an early aborted mental draft of this article was entirely about the art direction. 

Programming Note
One change in the upcoming schedule. I didn't realize that Warner Bros / DC had chosen an official day for Batman's 75th (the date of his birth is complicated) so we'll postpone that Batman-related Best shot episode until July in the second half of this season