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Also I am slightly boggled trying to picture Richard Butner as Vivica Fox.

My LiveJournal Sitcom
Living With snurri's professor (ABCFAM, 7:00): snurri (Harry Shearer) tries to seduce textfox (Kate Winslet) at the Eiffel Tower. Then, ninja_pencil (Sophia Loren) nixes st_writes (Timothy Dalton)'s picnic plans. That same day, naomikritzer (Hayley Mills) finds a novel in froggie_spawn (Brad Pitt)'s sock drawer. On the other side of town, dsgood (Roy Rogers) learns a card trick from iamza (Rick Moranis). Meanwhile, giantsloth (Vivica Fox) wipes nomissnewo (Jeff Goldblum)'s laptop. Wackiness ensues.
What's Your LiveJournal Sitcom? (by rfreebern)
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Y'know, the singing-n-dancing is the one thing that mitigates my Hugh Jackman man-crush.

At least we got Beyoncé in a top hat.

Kate Winslet in a tux would have been better.
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I wasn't expecting all that much from Revolutionary Road, frankly. Watching the trailer I felt like I knew exactly what the movie was going to be, thematically, and mostly that was the case. You know what I mean; it's a film about The Sacrifices We Make, for stability, for love, for children. There's also a bit of We Were Supposed to Be Different in there, and a dollop of Work Without Passion Will Kill Your Soul. We can argue about how valid any of those themes are, but the primary problem is that they are very, very familiar themes, one might almost say worn out. Note that I'm talking about the film, here, and not the novel by Richard Yates, which I have not read. I am perfectly willing to believe that the source material was deeper and more subtle. There are hints of this in DiCaprio and Winslet's performances, that really their disillusionment is not with the world but with themselves. This is the We Were Supposed to Be Different theme, the more interesting of the above, but the film itself is coy about confronting it, mostly leaving it up to the leads to bring it forth. Which they are perfectly able to do--Kate and Leo are both at full strength in this picture, spinning apart in spectacular fashion--but they are forced to do so by transcending the material, which means somewhere along the line someone fell down on the job. Scenes with Michael Shannon as the institutionalized son of the couple's realtor provide welcome relief from the melodrama, as he bears vocal witness to their last-ditch attempt at escape and its inevitable unraveling. His scenes are the only part of the film that doesn't feel at least a bit rote; every other step of the fall is telegraphed, making the film feel far longer than its two-hour running time, and not in a good way.
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As it happens, The Reader and Revolutionary Road are both playing at the Uptown; The Reader's run ends tonight, and Revolutionary Road starts tomorrow. Earlier in the week my mom and I were trying to agree on a film to see this weekend. She suggested The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Marley & Me, and I countered with The Reader. (Dad rarely has an opinion in these discussions.) "What's it about?" she asked, and I said I wasn't exactly sure, "But it has Kate Winslet, so I'm going to see it anyway."

Which is true. Hell, I saw The Holiday. And today I took the bus over to see The Reader, 'cause my mom was unconvinced.

I'm glad I didn't know much about this film going in. I haven't read the book and I didn't read up on it ahead of time, and so as not to color anyone else's experience I'm not going to spoil anything here. But it's a film of remarkable moral depth and complexity, and I found it engrossing and emotionally wrenching. It starts out as one thing and transforms three or four times without doing any fancy narrative calisthenics. Oscar bait, sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if the first film I saw this year won't still be the best 365 days from now.
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Everyone else is doing "Best Books of 2006" roundups. Which I admire, but can't get my head around, personally. So instead I give you a brief roundup of my viewing of films starring Kate Winslet.

The Holiday: Yes, I saw "The Holiday." It's not my usual fare--well, at least it's not my usual fare when I'm paying ten bucks for a ticket and not having a mild bout with insomnia and some cheesy-but-high-gloss romantic comedy comes on TBS--but Kate was in it. And she was great. The movie as a whole, however, took too long to get going, and was annoying along the way. I mean, it's a romantic comedy, so you have to adjust your expectations accordingly, right? And I did. But still, there are some things that just should not be done. Instapoll: how many of you are sitting at your computers READING THIS POST ALOUD TO YOURSELVES? Do you also do this with email and chat? If you answered no, congratulations! You are not a character in "The Holiday." Now, once it got going there were things to like; Jude Law, despite his penchant for babysitters, can be seriously charming onscreen, and Jack Black subdued his manic impulses for long enough to be a credible romantic interest for Kate. (Note to the haters: Sometimes people fall for people who are less conventionally attractive than themselves. I realize that some of the "OMG JACK BLACK NO WAY" stuff is rooted in resentment that in movies it's rarely a schlubby gal who gets the dreamy guy, but come on. It ain't Jack's fault that Hollywood is stupid.) The weak link in this film was definitely Cameron Diaz. Nothing against Cameron, who can be charming in more straightforward roles, but she had a big arc to handle in this movie and she just wasn't up to it. In her scenes with Jude Law I found that I wasn't watching her at all, 'cause wow was she boring. Perhaps I am developing some sort of Jude Law crush. That loveable cad. GRADE FOR "THE HOLIDAY": Watch it on TBS sometime when you have nothing better to do, but make sure to forget it's on until it's a half hour in.

Flushed Away: Kate's not exactly in the film in the physical sense, but she's the voice of Rita, the sewer-rat/salvage boat captain. Is it wrong that I found her attractive as a rat? Yeah, it probably is. (I'm sorry.) This movie got some minor flack for taking the Aardman claymation techniques and computerizing them, but while some of the images are smoothed over the story wasn't. I saw this at the budget cinema with a bunch of kids and their parents, but most of the time I was the only one laughing. And then the movie started! (Kidding.) Really, it was quite entertaining, although not as much for kids as I suspect everyone thinks. Speaking of man-crushes, I really do have one on Hugh Jackman. He voices Roddy in this flick, a pet rat who lives alone in a posh London home until he gets flushed down into the sewers. He stumbles into the middle of some trouble between Rita and the mis-rat-thropic Toad (voiced by Ian McKellen). The voice talent here is really great, especially Bill Nighy as an albino rat-thug and Jean Reno as a ridiculous frog ninja. There are about a zillion silly singing slugs passing through the film, and Rita's family is great, and the underground rat city is a prime opportunity for some little satirical touches. And Kate is wonderful. GRADE FOR "FLUSHED AWAY": H--for Hilarious! (Rex Reed, look out!)

Little Children: Quite different, and quite good. My major quibble is that there was really no need for the narration--for every bit of humor it brought in there were two or three head-shakingly obvious observations. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta: here Kate plays a suburban mom with a background in academia, who finds herself falling into a domestic cliché of infidelity and ennui. Patrick Wilson plays her opposite number, a stay-at-home dad who's supposed to be studying for his third shot at the Bar exam but instead spends his time wishing he was a kid and feeling emasculated by his working wife (Jennifer Connelly). I'm usually extremely unsympathetic to tales of adultery, but the wronged parties here are a creep and an ice queen, so it's not hard to sympathize to some extent. The secondary plot concerns a recently freed sex offender--he's done time for exposing himself to a minor--who's living with his mother in the same neighborhood. I haven't read Perrotta's book, but between him and director Todd Field there seems to be a conviction that, first of all, we are all basically childish at our worst moments, and secondly that we all have our own sexual quirks; some are just more acceptable than others. We're all a bit hinky, whether we're talking about Mr. Kate's internet porn fixation or Connelly's creepy adoration of her son or the simple transgressive thrills that the protagonists indulge in. It's not a perfect film; it's a bit long and not all the performances work; Noah Emmerich's turn as an obsessive former cop is just slightly off-key, and sometimes it's difficult to decide whether some of the minor characters are meant to be taken seriously or as caricatures. But overall it's a surprising and thought-provoking piece, and I recommend it. GRADE FOR "LITTLE CHILDREN": Notice how I got through that whole review without mentioning the nudity? ... DAMMIT!

I didn't see All the King's Men, so I can't comment on that one. I did re-watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, though, so I can report that Clementine is still hot. In case you were wondering.
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I got on [ profile] darkling1's case for his list, so I guess I have to provide my own:

List ten fictional characters you'd fool around with, and tag five people to pick up the meme.*

1. Clementine Kruczynski, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
2. Aeryn Sun, "Farscape"
3. Natalie Hurley, "Sports Night"
4. Kaylee Frye, "Firefly"
5. Lisa Miller, "NewsRadio"
6. Jen Yu, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
7. Xena, "Xena: Warrior Princess"
8. Faith, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel"
9. Natalie, "Love Actually"
10. Hildy Johnson, "His Girl Friday"

Yes, pretty much all of them could kick my ass. Even, I suspect, the sweet ones. Maybe this goes back to the bubble or something. Fuck if I know.

*Tag yourself.
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I think I've figured out why my pens sometimes explode on planes. If I'm using the pen when we take off, this never happens. If I uncap the pen to write something while we are at 30,000 feet, I almost always end up with ink all over my hands, my manuscript, my flotation device. (Does that sound dirty to anyone else?) It's the cabin pressure, stupid. Probably I could switch to some other sort of pen and solve the problem (I use a Pilot Precise Rolling Ball, Fine Point and I hope that news will make your day complete), but I have no plans to do so.

A good weekend. Walked the dogs with my brother on Thursday morning, saw the deer who've been hanging out behind my parents' house, mashed and mixed the potatoes and then loudly took credit for them. (Mom doesn't mind. Really.) Dinner--I don't remember what we talked about, really, but it was good food and my uncle's girlfriend and her sister were there, which I think was good for all of us. Talked to the Lexington posse despite bad reception. Had lunch Friday at Haddayr's, where Arie and Éiden demonstrated a new game called "Fall down!" which was just about what you would expect, and Haddayr was patient while Jan and I talked comics. Rode the light rail for the first time, down to the fancy new Minneapolis library where I was able to hang with Haddayr, Alan, Kristin, and Lena. Saw "For Your Consideration" (dark, but good) and the "Baseball as America" exhibit at the History Center with my folks. Talked a lot about the book and all the stuff happening with that until I started to feel very boring, but what the hell; I'll never have another first novel, and I'm going to stay excited about it. Ate well, as did the dogs, who scored a tupperware container of leftover lefse while everyone was gone on Saturday afternoon. Movies (re-)watched on decadent expanded basic cable: "Love, Actually" and "Bring It On." I make no apologies.

I ended up taking yesterday off, and last night finished up Chapter Twelve, which is crappy. I know it's crappy, but it's just going to have to be crappy for the time being. Before it can get better I'll need to a) visit some actual salt mines (hopefully during my European visit with Mr. Moles) and b) figure out exactly what I'm foreshadowing. If there's one thing I've figured out about writing, at least the way that I do it, it's that sometimes I just need to get something on the page. It doesn't have to be perfect; in fact it never will be. But it can be made better later, once I've figured out what the hell I'm doing. (This is what I tell myself.)

Things to see: Sex Advice from a D&D Player. A DISTURBING promo for the Philips Bodygroom. Eddie Campbell has a blog! (Via Comics Worth Reading.) Rupert Gee bothers people; a classic Letterman bit. (Dude. Last night Kate Winslet and Tom Waits were on Dave. Greatest talk show lineup EVER. Best lines, unattributed: "Cameron Diaz can eat me under the table." "They basically have a choice between throwing up or getting hit by a car.") And finally, for feminists of all genders: a big heaping helping of What. The. Fuck. Roger Miller is scratching his head in his grave, still.


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April 2011

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