Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shameful Reviews From Last Week, Friend in Town, Movie Marathons

I'd avoided posting my latest reviews from last week. It was so unfair!

At about 6:45pm on Tuesday evening, I received an e-mail from my editor. I often avoid opening messages from my superiors so close to the end of the day (Who said that?), but given this regarded the only part of my job that I like, I clicked to find that they decided to run my reviews early: "Please send them first thing in the morning."

Considering I never turn them in until Thursday, I was hardly prepared (hadn't started researching, let alone writing!). But I was meeting a friend for dinner, who was already on her way, so I couldn't cancel.

This meant I was an antsy dinner partner at a time when she needed my full ears-attention; upon returning home and engaging in requisite roommate banter, I didn't get started until 10pm. Maybe later.

The result was an all-nighter, a half-alive Ms. Grice the next day and my worst-quality reviews to date.

Enough disclaimers? Never.

I usually paste the text here, but I can't bear to re-read. "Yes Man" and "Tale of Despereaux" on the Bl'erg's website. I can't believe "Yes Man" beat out Will Smith's "Seven Pounds" this weekend, by the way.

In other news, the weekend was mostly great. After enduring a full cancellation Friday night and a near all-day delay on Saturday thanks to the relentless snow gods, my Poor Friend finally made it on a flight to Manhattan.

So far, I've made us Mexican omelettes and a taco dinner; in one day, we watched "Goodfellas," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Thief," "Blood Diamond," "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson," and "Fried Green Tomatoes." (After a few more movie marathons, I plan to compile some thoughts on the best and worst of them all.) And we've walked around the city for hours -- thanks to the cold, I think my gimp limb is too numb to feel the pain.

Perhaps I can have Happy Holidays with a good friend, without being home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Many Enchiladas, Great Mexicans, a Famous Wood Chipper

How many enchiladas can this half-bred Mexican make in a matter of hours, you ask? 36.

Did we include homemade guacamole, salsa, and rice and beans with that? But of course.

My level of human domestication has never been higher.

As planned, Mexican Monday Night went down at the Grice homestead last night. I even switched up my work schedule so I could come in at the crack of dawn, and leave in the afternoon; I needed to entertain my anxiety of cooking for stomachs other than my own.

After last week's Roommate Night, I'd told the boys I could make some mean Mexican food; as I wandered aimlessly around the grocery store yesterday, I reconsidered my bold cooking claim.

But, oh, what a nice time was had.

With the help of two fine Lady Friends, we made enough food to take us into next week (Recession!), we managed to set off the fire alarm -- but fix it in a style that would make Lucille Ball proud -- and we ended the night on the couch, Youtubing Dire Straits and Peter Gabriel, thanks to my fond childhood memories of the music videos for "Money for Nothing" and "Sledgehammer." We threw in some Robert Palmer, for good measure.

Our collective food coma was alive and well.

I had such a good time and newfound appreciation for My Roots that I spent a good part of my morning revisiting some Mexican movie greats.

Remember "Amores Perros"? It stars the beautiful Gael Garcia Bernal and it interweaves three great twisted, distinct storylines into wonderful movie darkness. There's dogfighting, a supermodel who loses her leg, a hitman. Anyone who knows me would know I'd love this movie on that sentence alone.

And, while "La Mala Educacion" (which I wrote about before) is by Pedro Almodóvar, a Spaniard, not a Mexicano, (It's all the same? No, they like tapas, we like grease.), it also stars the beautiful Bernal. This is a particularly bizarre scene, with him studying a transvestite.

Finally, I stumbled upon one other (unrelated) movie scene today, as I was wandering around in my brain tunnels.

I have a Friend arriving in New York on Friday; we were talking about his trip, and he mentioned how glad he was to be getting out of the arctic weather he's been braving. I realized that every time we talk about how unbearably cold it is there, my mind's mental picture calls up "Fargo." While geographically incorrect, he said it was representative of his surroundings.

I said I hoped he had a solid wood chipper, which refers to this lovely little scene.

Hurray for holiday company.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chasing After the Carrot Stick, New Reviews Next Week ... Bon Weekend

Well, that's how I feel (the above image).

I was getting ready to go off and have a proper lunch, like a human, instead of indulging in a plethora of free work snacks and ramen [read: salt]. I decided I ought to check my messages before I left, like an employee, instead of a freeloading resource-drain [read: me].

"Please stop by my desk when you have a moment," writes Bloomberg Movie Critic the Elder.

Thankfully, I've been dressing "nicely" the past few days, my second-hand sweaters and one pair of dress pants having been unearthed from the bowels of my bedroom. (I'm awaiting my performance review.)

I smoothed down the tresses, winced at my reflection and sauntered over.

Maybe I'd forgotten to produce some of his movie trailers? Maybe one of the editors mentioned I'd been a couple hours late on my deadline during the last round of reviews?!? Maybe he was going to say: Look, kid, we're in a recession and they're nixing the Arts department. We rarely have in-person rendezvous.

He was flustered and scatterbrained when I got there.

"Aaahhh, uubb, oofff, umm, GOD, I'm in such movie disaster! Did you SEE my reviews this week??? [Umm, yes, why, yes I did. And my jealousy was palpable.] I had to do 7 for one day! I could only write capsules!!! [Oh, you poor dear.] I have a proposition for you ... can you ... umm, I have some movies for next week -- are you available for ..."

"The answer is YES!" I blurted out, uncontrollably and embarrassingly. (Who's lazy now, punk?) He was taken aback, but pleased.

So, crisis: averted; my paranoia: in check.

Of course, as I walked away, I realized that since I started doing movie reviews, they have me do them juuuuuuuust frequently enough that I'm the hopeless little horse chasing after the elusive carrot stick.

In my case, I sit at my desk all day long like the man featured in the picture above, but then the moment something good happens, the clouds part and ... sunshine. Suddenly, I'm happier at my workplace and L.A. lingers further in the backdrop. Sigh-o-rama.

The first two I'm seeing are "The Tale of Despereaux" and "Yes Man." Anything will do.

It just so happens that my roommate and I watched "Liar, Liar" recently; it was an active decision, not just something we stumbled upon on TV. It'll be interesting to see what Mr. Carrey brings to the screen in "Yes Man."

"Yes Man"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Great Roommate Night, On Dissing L.A. (and my Life Plans), Confusion

"Jou're schoost being lazy, baby," he accused, his Chilean drawl masking any attempts at enunciation.

He was my "date" for a long-awaited Roommate-Night Dinner. The two roommate studs were bringing their lady friends, so I had to find an Other. I chose a friend I've known for many years ... and now he was accusing me of being lazy! I felt like sending him out of the stodgy, but awesome, Columbia/Princeton Club, sans food, wine or my friendship.

I glared back at him, mentally tainting many of our shared memories due to his gall.

While I make it my job to seek out the end of the Interweb at work, wasting away my days on G-chat or writing on this bloggle, I like to think of myself as "selectively focused" -- not lazy.

When I have to write my movie reviews for work, I become a compulsive, self-loathing wreck; quality may not bear witness to that fact, but it's true. I can't sleep and I like to lock myself up in my room, far from others who aren't familiar with my painful writing process.

Or, when I have rare fits of fiction writing -- when I'm trying to kill Lucas Jackson, say -- one can't make me eat or tear me away from my scribbled notes or computer.

Or, when I play wikipedia wars! I'll be damned if I let my bladder get the best of me ... I will find my way from "fleece" to "anus" in fewer clicks than you. A lazier person might not show such discipline to the sport.

I digress.

So, he was calling me lazy when I told him about my wanting to move to L.A. -- or my considering a move to L.A. He dismissed it right away: a flippant wave of the hand, slight roll of the eyeballs and an unmistakable cluck of the tongue.

But, Dear Friend, I want to work in movies! Sure, I'll write about them 'til I'm blue in the face, but I ... I ... need to be Out There to do it proper! Right??!

Oh, I was just plain wrong, according to this man. Did I remember our trip out to L.A. some six, seven years ago? How awful the place was? How we had fun, but how we thanked our lucky stars to be spending our youth on the better coast?

Well, yes, I do. But ...

(I tend to have friends who like to talk over me.)

And did I realize that more and more production is being done out East? Did I realize that I could find a job out here, without upending my life and being irrational? Did I realize that it's just lazy of me that I haven't been looking? Did I realize that he has a ton of contacts and connections???!

Oh, all these people and their "connections."

So, once again, I've no idea what to do. And the movie gods are no help, either -- I love two movies that are focused on the greatness of these cities. I've recently watched both.

A great Steve Martin in a great scene from "L.A. Story." I need a wise signpost to guide me:

And Woody Allen waxing romantic in "Manhattan."

Despite all the confusion and dismissal of my Life Plans, we had a great night. And now we've planned for Mexican Monday Night at the apartment -- this Lady's in charge of the enchiladas, since I'm brown. So nice to have a happy home life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Brilliant Slumdog, Lady Crush, Why Can't I Just Move to LA?

We walked in a minute late; our protagonist and potential "Millionaire" was already strung up, being tortured. My pulse, it quickened.

Attached to our "Slumdog"'s toes were some kind of cables, which were being used to zap the truth out of him.

"HOW did you know the answers?!!!" thunders the Indian policeman in charge of finding out how our hero hit the 10-million (rupees) mark on the country's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

"I just knew them," he sputters, his eyeballs rolling round loosely in their sockets.

And so begins "Slumdog Millionaire." It was the second film in last Thursday's Double Feature Night (the first was "Milk," which will be dealt with at another time -- it was very good, but this film was fantastic).

Walking into the movie with my lovely date, we both had similar expectations. We'd heard some of the hype, knew it was supposed to be "great," but were both pretty unclear what we were in for.

"I was imagining a lot of bright colors, flashes, eclecticism," we later mused, quite ignorantly. Not the intricate, smart, layered, brilliant little film that unfolded.

After the opening torture scene, we're taken back to Jamal (a.k.a. "Slumdog," or Dev Patel) sitting on the set of "Millionaire." The snaky host lets out his first question; then we enter Jamal's head.

We live through a memory of his childhood in a civil-war torn Mumbai. We follow him and his brother playing innocently, if mischievously, in their slum of a neighborhood, when suddenly a Hindu mob descends upon the slums, beating anyone in sight in an extremely violent, visceral early scene.

They're orphaned. But before they begin the remarkable adventure of raising themselves, we cut to his memory of a child standing in front of them (after their mother is slain) holding the very object being questioned about on Millionaire. Though he's never received anything more than a street-smarts education, you quickly realize that he's able to answer the most obscure questions because they all relate to some significant moment in his twisted Tom-Sawyer life.

So, that's the format for each of the questions. We jump from present-time in the police station, as the inspector and his lackey take turns beating on him from time-to-time, back to him on the show's set, and back to his childhood memories responsible for his Millionaire-making responses. We watch them escape child slavery (after seeing a horribly painful scene involving boiling water and a poor child's eyes); we see them criss-crossing the whole of India, riding atop moving trains; we watch Salim, his brother, evolve into the criminal we always knew he'd become; and of course, there's a love story. (For feelings on Love, however, see prior post.)

It's beautiful, brilliantly interwoven -- quite seamless.

At one point, the police inspector calls Jamal's story "bizarrely plausible," and I suppose that's one of the most impressive parts of the whole film. Despite its twists and turns and coincidences and self-made constructs, it doesn't feel contrived.

Oh, and his love interest, Latika (Freida Pinto), is one of the most beautiful actresses I can think of. It was hard to pay attention to what was going on around them when she was on screen. Lady crush! (pictured above)

In other news, I ran into the elder Bloomberg movie critic, who said he has a gaggle of movies for me to review in January. Why, gods, can you not make it easy for me to just up and leave for L.A.?!?!?!!? Sigh.

In other, other news, I finally gave into the realization that it's going to be a White Christmas; and, there is no snow in Houston (home). Sorry, Mama G. :'(

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Some Pork & Egg Buns, a Sleepover, New York Weekends

Well, there went the weekend.

There was dancing; there was drinking; there was the requisite drunk-dialing, just to keep me honest. (Why, oh, why do the gods shame us so? Why, oh, why do I push off my [warranted] self-guilt onto some elusive "gods"?? One will never know.)

It all culminated in a sleepover, chez Grice.

"Do you remember this morning when you nuzzled into my ... my ... bosom?" she asked. The answer was: no, it must've been a subconscious, warm-body reflex.

Thankfully, Lady holds on her shoulders one of the few heads upon which I foist my love troubles, so she didn't take my nuzzling as some latent flirtation. Ha.

Note: Dear lord, please feed this attention-seeking, self-loathing monster...something, soon.

After lolling about in bed, lamenting life, exchanging stories, et cetera, we decided breakfast was needed. Fried pork-egg buns -- again ... while the wallet's getting thinner, the waistline's thickening, readily.

To top it off, we then trudged/hobbled to coffee; I had my little cup in my little (err, huge) frozen fingers, and I stood looking for the cream. Skim (never). 1% (nope). 2% (closer).

This woman came up to me, having spotted my scouring eyes, and handed me the half-and-half.

When I pinch my protruding little belly, I've no one to blame but myself.

So onwards to the movie reference.

I walked my lovely lady friend to her subway destination some many blocks away from my warm home. I realized, while doing so, that I own neither a scarf nor gloves. That long walk home reminded me of only one scene (lies) ... the scene in "The Shining" when Jack is chasing Danny in the maze. You need only watch the first couple seconds to understand the feeling.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bankruptcy Class for Suckers, Dreamless Fields, and Double Feature Night

Don't know what "prepackaged bankruptcy" is or how to write about it properly? Oh, really? Neither do/did I.

To remind myself that there are a few marbles rolling around upstairs, I signed up for a class on PB at work. It was taught by a small, squirrelly old man, who was dropping colloquialisms like "cotton-pickin" left and right; he was a bankruptcy lawyer, a brilliant one, or so was said in his introduction. And he spoke like folks from home! Fantastic.

So, should GM, Chrysler and Ford fold? Consolidation? What are the ramifications? Outlook?

I awaited elucidation. Good thing I wasn't holding my breath.

He was certainly brilliant, explaining exactly why the media is misusing "prepacks," and I was following. That was out of the way, what's more, Old Man?

Oh, they HAVE to file bankruptcy. He explained the domino effect, how suppliers, workers, so many auxiliary industries will just be wiped out if they don't! Taxpayers, saddled with debt! It all made sense (sort of, let's be honest).

Then people started asking questions.

Oh, sure, he was biased-- admittedly: "A surgeon's always going to believe your best bet is to cut out the disease." But he held his ground.

Until he didn't. People pushed him a little further, and then it came out: "Well...well...uh... [yes?] Well, ok I agree the government should just foot the bill ... I agree with that too." [Too?]

You could see this brilliant man standing there fighting with himself after he'd just waxed brilliant, confident. Finally, he just said "Well, you know what? F*ck all ... there's going to be so much blood. I don't know what to tell you. Except, you could run a plow over the whole Midwest."

The only thing I could think of was Kevin Costner and his beautiful corn fields and home and family being plowed over. Run over one by one by cars that are indirectly responsible for their demise.

Below, a clip with the great James Earl Jones in "Field of Dreams."

Despite the depressing discourse on the outlook for our fair nation, one thing to be optimistic about: Tonight is DOUBLE FEATURE night! Finally seeing "Slumdog Millionaire," and we're supposed to see "Milk," post-slumming it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Real Bout of Sadness, Looking Like Medusa, and Leo DiCaprio

Oh, what a sad day! I was devastated twice, and the causes were both of my own doing.

It all started off so innocently. I asked my brilliant lady friend a follow-up question over G-chat.

"So, who was your ex-boyfriend? I don't know too much about him. Sorry I've never asked!" I typed, ignorantly.

The result was a marathon tale of tragedy. A horrible, horrible, soul-crushing, sad, tumultuous, terrifying-in-its-familiarity, ongoing, misery-inducing tale. We talked and talked; pictures were shared (!); we commiserated.

And, of course, this little lady's fear was confirmed: Love, it's for the birds.

Devastation number 1.

(I tend to shy away from matters-of-the-heart conversations -- "shy away," "run away," semantics -- this might be why.)

But then, my fortuitous coworker talked at me: "Psst, turn it to in-house channel 36."

"Sir, don't you know I'm going through tremendous devastation at the moment? Sheesh." I think.

But then who's staring at me on the set of Charlie Rose? Leonardo DiCaprio! Oh, yes, one of my favorite and embarrassing first crushes, first loves. Immediately, I message my movie-work friend. It was time for another mission. (The last mission resulted in a run-in with Sean Penn.)

We monitored our tubes intently. I got antsy.

And then I did a terrible thing. I went to the bathroom; I wanted to -- yes, really -- take down my ratty hair and put on a little makeup, a thing I used to do before I lost any care for hygeine or vanity. (If I was going to meet the eye of a man whose career-making movie I saw ... well, too many times ... I didn't want him to think he saw Medusa standing before him!)

Back to my desk I rushed; but it was too late. I stared at the screen as he stood up from Charlie's round table. No! We have three flights to climb! And I'm crippled!

We still tried, and we failed. Vanity, one of the seven deadly sins for a reason.

Of course, I came back and watched the "Never let go" scene from "Titanic," to make me feel even better. Because you know how Rose dies in this movie? Old and alone, that's how. Her young, beautiful boy dies on her, and she dies old, sad and alone, still harboring feelings.

Devastation 2 (which confirmed aforementioned Devastation 1.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hospital Food, Nurse Ratched, Verbal Kent

In a couple days, a close college comrade has to take himself to the hospital. I know the experience well, since, as I consistently remind us on this here bloggle, I'm hobbled.

Back in school, he spent a stint in the Harvard hospital; I'd go round after class and sit with him and tell him the ins-and-outs of my and our closest friends' days.

I'd tell him what we'd all talked about during our campouts in the dining hall; I'd give him my thoughts on friends' romantic lives; I'd tell him what time I got up, my first internal musings of the morning. I have an amazing talent of being able to talk about nothing, for hours.

Because he was so lethargic, he had no choice but to lay there and let me ramble. It's always been a running joke between us that I manage to turn all our conversations back to myself (I call it "relating"!), so I took advantage of the fact he couldn't complain, or make mean jokes at my expense. Though that was years ago, he reminds me of that week when I could blabber with impunity, often.

This time around, I fear he's going to have more of his wits about him, so I may not be able to talk his ear off. As I was thinking of my upcoming week of hospital-food lunches, I thought of one of my favorite hospital-related characters.

It's the evil Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Mama Grice gets compared to her when she complains about her job.

Jokes aside, I hope Friend's nurse is nicer than Ms. Ratched; otherwise, I may go Jack-Nicholson on her, as seen in this scene ... and we all know that didn't end well for him. Sometimes, I'd like a lobotomy, though.

And since I'm complaining as usual about the hobbling, I'd been looking for a reason to post the end scene of "The Usual Suspects." So, why not now?!

I often imagine myself as Verbal Kent in the end of TUS, as we're watching his feet, and suddenly he starts walking right while we're being explained his ruse. For a look into what my mind imagines may some day happen to me, start at 02:17.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, Pseudo-Bout With Sadness, Then a Couple of Grifters

Man, oh, man. I thought it was going to be a sad Thanksgiving: I had to work the Wednesday and Friday flanking this great Thursday, while most every one of my other friends got to go home for their holiday. And last year's T-giving was spent without my former Favorite or my family; I thought I was due for another ill-fated day.

Wrong. First, I ran into an old friend while waiting in a grocery store line yesterday evening -- it resulted in an invite to a potluck Turkey Day dinner. Second, I awoke to a wonderful gift from AMC (the channel).

It was 8:30am, and what do I see the moment I hit the remote's "Guide"? "The Sting." I flip to it, and the movie's trademark score is bellowing out to me, telling me I've the good fortune of catching the flick from the start. Shortly thereafter, my Paul (Newman) is seated drunkenly at a cards table, assuring me that I should be thankful for a Thanksgiving spent alone, watching him.

At the first commercial break, reliable old AMC tells me they're playing the Godfather trilogy post-Sting. Oh, how the gods work in mysterious ways.

Also, I have great rationalization skills. I love "The Sting," or any collaborative efforts by Redford and my sweet Mr. Newman. They make great Grifters. And it's been much too long since I've seen Marlon Brando on the small screen. Happy Turkey.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

6th Grade, Jean-Claude, JCVD

It was the first day of 6th grade, and I waltzed into Mrs. Bertelli's English class and took a seat. Given that this was a large, public junior high in Texas, the school was a melting pot of neighboring elementary schools' grads. To break the ice, we were asked to fill out an About Me and partner up with a stranger.

One question was about our favorite movies.

"Pulp Fiction, Tombstone and Timecop," I scribbled, my little 11-year old self so confident in my choices. And, oh, how I explained the plots with such enthusiasm to my boy partner -- still a friend -- who was grateful for my violent, descriptive tales of gangsters, cowboys and time-traveling cops.

The next day, after she'd gone home and read our About Mes, my teacher took me aside and asked politely, if concernedly, if my parents had indeed let me see these films.

"Yup! They're so great. Have you seen them?? Usually, I fall asleep to one of them!"

I'll remember the look of shock and disgust on her face, always. (It should have been respect and admiration for the prodigious child that stood before her. Alas.)

Thankfully, my teacher never had to talk to Mama G, who would've scolded me harshly for letting on to what she has always termed my "warped" taste in movies, and peculiar habits regarding them.

Of the three great films I boasted as my favorites, I'd most recently seen "Timecop." I thought it was the most brilliant movie. Which brings me to the point. As we all know, Jean-Claude Van Damme, the "Muscles from Brussels," is the star of that awesome sci-fi flick.

And now he stars in "JCVD."

It's very "Being John Malkovich," in its meta look into his life. He plays a washed up action movie star, who's endured plenty of woe-is-me, self-inflicted drama during his public life. He's had drug issues, has married too many ladies, has a child he can't take custody of ... the whole nine.

It mirrors his real life. BUT, it's also a great heist movie. The two storylines (that of JCVD's real life, and that of the heist film) roll with each other quite seamlessly. He returns to Belgium after a nasty custody war, ready to reinvent himself. But he's broke (drugs will do that to you?) and finds himself desperate and begging people in a post office to help him out; he's the figurehead of American-made dreams for the Belgian folk, after all.

Suddenly, he's coopted into a crime scenario.

The movie's construction is of my favorite style. It's the "before the question, here's the answer" style. So, that means it's reminiscent of a Pulp-Fictionesque backwards shoot ... we know how we end before we know how we got there. And it's done very well.

For his part, JCVD shows an almost miraculous acting talent. It was one of the most impressive things I've seen of late. He actually acts and taps into some crazy feeling. The reviews/interviews I've read say that it's all real; it causes some discomfort, I must admit -- he at one point levitates when he's at his wit's end, and speaks directly to the viewer. He tells of his regrets, his feelings of failure.

Oh, poor JCVD -- we forgive you your faults ... and he does some nice roundhouses.

Once more, JCVD trailer:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Miserable Day, Obesity, Tommy Boy

Oh, what a miserable day! Disgruntled, stodgy coworkers cursing and yelling for no reason (I'm a lady!); more bad news about our sad, struggling, beaten-down economy; the cold.

It was one of those days where I (seeking my silverlining) looked around me and thought how thankful I was that the Bloomberg building is built entirely of glass; no matter where I look, I'm reminded I need to hobble up a few floors before I jump -- better safe than sorry!

But I did finally go back to the gym. After a two-month hiatus, the time had finally come to get it together.

I knew it was time when, this morning as I lay in my newly-heated room cursing the gods for making me get up, I stretched and patted my stomach, err, gut. Oh, how all these fancy dinners and fine foods do dare take their toll.

I was then reminded of one of my old favorite stupid comedies from when I was a kid. Particularly, one scene from "Tommy Boy." I found myself humming the tune all day, and watching the YouTube a few times, which provided me what very little bit of entertainment I had all day. Useless post, cute clip.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum, Bond, Intimidating Chats ... Movie Week Continues

I lived out my movie dreams this weekend. I went, I saw, I danced (the last wasn't related to the movies, it was of a Saturday-night social nature -- and it was ugly ... hobbled legs shouldn't try doing the Butterfly).

The "Cyclops" adventure -- unofficial premiere -- was awesome; Sci-Fi movies featuring one-eyed beasts in a Rome that I can only pretend to be historically-knowledgable about are best seen amongst a large group of people ... and talked about with said group over drinks afterwards.

Saturday was, as hoped, spent watching Quantum of Solace; I'm one of the only folks I know who really enjoyed it. I have to re-read some of the criticism, but from what I'd gleaned pre-viewing, most critics were mixed. Erroneous.

Post-movie, Movie Friend and I joined his family for coffee and post-viewing conversation. My initial thoughts were superficial: "Oh, well, I went in with rather lowered expectations, which were exceeded, so, I don't know -- I thought it was really great! I think Daniel Craig's an on-screen gem, a darker Bond (which suits my movie tastes), and while the action scenes were head-spinning, they didn't last SO long that I was bored." Etc.

Friend's father simply nodded and said, "Hmm. Elaborate."

Well, no pressure there.

So, I elaborated. "Weeeellllll, so I reviewed this documentary 'Flow' recently about the demonization of water privatization/commoditization ... I thought this was a very fantastical account of what someone would dream up about the evils of that industry." Wow, Grice, way to think of some bologna on those feet -- though I really had been thinking about that throughout the film. When I did that Flow review, I did so much research on that issue that it resonated well with me.

I think the movie is very, very smartly written. As was discussed over coffee, it's more of a Bourne film, rather than a traditional Bond film - which lends to some criticism, considering its arguable lack of cohesion with the genre ... but regardless, a great movie, for me.

I saw "JCVD" tonight, which I'll save for tomorrow to write about ... but it was excellent. From Rot Tom's: "In a bold and self-deprecating role, Jean-Claude finds himself out of money, fighting for custody of his daughter and losing every good action role to Steven Seagal."

The "JCVD" trailer:

I really, really respected this film.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Premiere, Quantum, Slumdogs

It's going to be a movie-filled weekend, and upcoming week or so since my best movie friend is in town.

First, a few friends and I are going to my movie friend's movie premiere! He has a huge -- let's say starring role in it, because we can -- and his loved ones are throwing him a premiere and party to celebrate his impending (realized?) success.

Actually, he's kept tonight somewhat shrouded in mystery, so who knows what ridiculous event is happening tonight. But, no matter, I hear there will be a red carpet. Alas, we're in a Great Recession, so my chucks and jeans may have to do.

The movie is "Cyclops," and it's produced by Roger Corman. (Brother Grice, known for his love of strange movies, nearly peed himself when I told him Corman was involved.)

Can't seem to embed it, but it can be found here.

So, following that wonderful one-eyed Sci-Fi monster movie, tomorrow will be Bond time! Quantum of Solace -- yes, I know, it's not supposed to be as good as Daniel Craig's last one, but it's 007, and I find him very handsome. Might see it at the Ziegfeld, which would be neat.

Finally, I hope to see "Slumdog Millionaire" on Sunday. Aside from having an awesome title, this movie's been getting awesome, awesome reviews. It's from director Danny Boyle (of "Trainspotting," "28 Days Later") and from its IMDB page:

The story of Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating.

Sooooooo, it should be quite the weekend. My movie friend just said that some 190 people are invited to the red carpet event tonight. 53 minutes until they open the factory doors and let me go home!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Fancy Food, Great Friends, Then! A Dark (K)Night

A couple nights ago, my favorite food critic took a friend and me out to a fancy dinner. And, oh, what a great time we had. We gorged on goat and scallops and sweetbreads and more! (At least now my impending-gout will have been worth it.)

"How 'bout we three grab a quick cocktail after this?" Food Critic asks.

"Of course!" New Friend and I decide, effortlessly.

We travel uptown a bit and are happy and chatty in the cab.

"Oh, how lucky we are," we think, naively.

We arrive: an over-priced, swanky lounge -- just the thing to top off an excessive dinner.

We walk through those beautiful doors -- they may have parted for us, inexplicably -- and into the gilded first room. We peek in. Crowded, but, oh well, nothing will ruin this night.

We head in further, ready for some sweet, sweet bartender to mix us a sweet, sweet drink, when: OH NO, duck, Grice! Who is tha...is it...nooooo...y? yea? And is he wi.....? No!

Yes! That's when it became a Dark (K)Night, and it reminded me of the restaurant scene in "The Dark Knight."

Where were you gods?!! I work hard on this karma.

Oooohhhh, I exaggerate. Kind of. At least my table got to laugh a lot and my story gets more and more sensational each time I relate it, obviously.

As for The Dark Knight, in brief, I was disappointed. As I've written before, I was part of a group of fools who waited in a line around the block at 2 a.m. on opening night. My expectations, needless to say, were extremely high; and as with most things fated to high expectations it was likely to disappoint (For things that have been fated to high expectations, see: above situation, the causes of broken heart, people, humanity etc.! Ha.).

A couple of main criticisms: it was confusing. My Old Friend came out of the movie talking about how it changed his life, but he hadn't even picked up on what exactly happened to Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, when and why. I was shocked, but the more I talked about it with people, I found many had been confused too.

Oh, and we certainly needed more face-time and reasons to care for the fate of Gyllenhaal in the first place! I didn't really care about that woman, a few more scenes would've upped my endearment level.

But it was already much too long. When poor Heath Ledger wasn't mesmerizing us on-screen (obviously, he's brilliant in the film), I found myself wandering around in my brain and wondering after the price of tea in China.

Finally, I wanted to throw my popcorn at the screen when I found that the way we're going to find out whether good or evil wins out is by making us watch a contrived situation (!) about convicts versus "good people" battling it out on the bay ... I wanted to blow both boats up. I was so angry! Not only have we seen a million scenes like that a million times, it was just ... oh, I've worked myself up.

But, I will leave us with one of the best scenes, the interrogation scene.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Walking on `Stilts,' Feeling Like the Elephant Man: `A Silent, Unresisting Target for Your Ridicule'

I've been thinking of blogging about this for days. I sought advice from Brother Grice about my hesitation; his consolation: "Well, Sister, when in doubt, blog it out." Since when did New Media work its way into flippant axioms?

I couldn't bring myself to air my grievance until half an hour ago. Bossman came over and whispered: "So, how's it working out?" I knew exactly what he meant, I'd confided in him that I was being made to wear lifts in my shoes to help out the hobbled walk.

I blurted out, "I feel like the Elephant Man! That's how it's working out." The truth is, I haven't even gotten the "lifts" yet (actually, it's an insole), but the moment old Doogie Howser (the doctor) told me what I had to do, I wore the saddest frown for a good hour. A whole very long hour, until I began thinking it was kind of funny, talked to Mother and Brother Grice and several others who were happy for a progressive step in the leg-healing process, and of course, I spoke to many hecklers who are near and dear to my heart.

So, I guess walking on a small stilt on one side is better than walking around hobbled-like. And, "The Elephant Man" is a great movie; as one of my dear friends once told me, "You're like a crippled monster!" It's so true.

A Day in the `City,' New Friends, Roosevelt Island -- and Utter Gluttony

I've done lots of thinking about how to explain this weekend. I had thoughts of linking Willy Wonka, Seven, and Dark Water to clarify/confuse what went on over these few days.

Saturday morning at 6:55 a.m., I called my friend to wake her, to make sure she could pack and be on our agreed corner by 8:00 a.m.

A car picks us up and we begin our journey to Atlantic City (usually, the most depressing place in the world). In the car, we meet: well, several media contacts, but more importantly, new friends. We all hit it off from the start.

We arrive and are put up in a swank new hotel ... roll around on the bed and thank the gods for our good fortunes.

Time to go meet all the chefs in our dine-around. I don't know the term for it, but it's something about taking a tour of all the fancy restaurants, while they try to woo you. We met a chef who "blows" sugar and used to work for W. Bush ... hence the Willy Wonka reference; we met a handsome, handsome egotistical chef who served us kobe beef and lobster and shrimp and sake; we met a less-handsome, but perhaps more reknown (?) man whose restaurant is in a basement but is beautiful. There, we ate spaghetti, all types of Italian foods, drank white wine and were seated at a communal table that allowed for some good bonding.

Because I'm not good at holding my alcohol, I knew myself and went to take a nap before the evening's events happened. When I did, I was told we had a credit posted to the room ... so, I ordered more food and a movie. You bet the latter was true.

When we got home to New York, three of us from the trip leapt up to Roosevelt Island ("leapt" is ill-used ... it took a bus ride, a tram ride, and a long walk -- and I'm a gimp) and that's where I was reminded of Dark Water -- with Jennifer Connelly, which was shot on RI.

What this all means is, I embodied a few of these characters this weekend. Let's have a little retrospective look at Seven:

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Reviews and Zomg, Spielberg May Remake `Old Boy'

I don't even care about my witless little reviews that I slaved over this past week; Steven Spielberg is in talks to remake "Old Boy." The clouds have parted and the gods are smiling down on us (me). Says Variety:

Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are in early discussions to collaborate on a remake of Chan Wook-park's "Oldboy." DreamWorks is in the process of securing the remake rights, and the new pic will be distributed by Universal.

In the 2003 Korean original, a man gets kidnapped and held in a shabby cell for 15 years without explanation. Suddenly, he's released and given money, a cell phone and clothes and is set on a path to discover who destroyed his life so he can take revenge.

I wrote about my experience with "Old Boy" here. Happy Friday.

My Bloomberg reviews of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," "Role Models," and "The Guitar" are here. Meh.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Roommates, Animal House, Reminiscent

I'm going with "colossal" score on the new roommate situation.

The weekend has been one great slumber party, or something reminiscent of one.

I brought over my junk on Saturday morning; the MIT grad, now doctorate-in-waiting Columbia biologist is sitting with a lady on the couch, cracking open a beer. Really? "This is a no judgment zone," he defends. Clearly, sir, no judgment.

The little grey-haired poodle is traipsing around the living room. My room is (at the time) still inhabited by the guy who's moving (and his girlfriend, and his younger brother and his girlfriend). What a sigh of relief. These people have their "shit together," without having it together whatsoever.

By weekend's end, I'd mediated couples' fights, been outfitted for a date with MIT's scarf as a flourish and watched The Simpsons on a Sunday afternoon, as all Sunday afternoons are meant to be spent.

The other roommate, Duke '05 guy, is awesome as well. Grey-haired poodle (named "Hendrix") was his family dog -- the poor pup spent Dude's senior year with him at a Duke frat house ... sweet dog, little brains.

And they've already taken to defending me, almost making Date come to the apartment to check him out and telling me things everyone wants to hear after heartbreak.

The environment is a bit like Animal House in that there's a slew of people about at any moment who are acting like grown children. I don't mind.

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Bloomberg Reviews, Halloween, Selfishness

Oh, dear Bloggle, why have I forsaken thee? So much to say.

First, I feel I've made a great decision living with the new boys I'm to be living with come Saturday. Calm, cool and collected ... that's the sense I get. Check.

Second. Two nights ago, I went to coffee (err, hot chocolate ... no stomach for coffee) with an old friend of mine. Spoke of ills of life, the outlook for better things, how to deal. One of those convos. Oh, how great I was feeling on my way back to my now-former apartment.

Got home -- this was Wednesday night -- and knew I had a deadline the next morning. I had to turn in three reviews.


I'd not gone out, not done a thing for over a week at this point. Dedicated my life to inundation of moving pictures and criticism and the researching of it all. Each night, post-work cum post-movie, I got home and got to work. I'd stay up til 4am, or later, figuring out what I wanted to say. Or how I wanted to say it in some grander context...

Well, post-hot chocolate, my eyelids were magnetized. They wanted each other. Sooooo badly. I decided that I'd put on a little Seinfeld to "rest my eyes" for juuuuust a minute. (Thankfully, I remember college so clearly that I caught myself from that easy trap and set my alarm for 3 a.m.)

I awoke to the worst sounding alarm, some ridiculous little jingle irritating my ear with its simultaneous vibration. Have I no tact? Clearly, no.

I couldn't get up.

I finally did, round 6 a.m. (maybe more like 4 a.m., I'm lying so I can disclaim the quality) and worked til I went into work and turned in the reviews.

I'll write what I wrote on another "wall," as it were.

"Shill-anthropy. Btw, I'm going to blog about this, but the editor I worked on these with skinned them like you would a poisonous snake. She gutted me. Cut the fat, and made me an anorexic critic. They're all still my words, but sheesh, for "space" we had to cut it down ... good lord. I will never work with her again. That's my disclaimer."


I know that a couple of work friends want to hear about how I stood up for myself (that's thrice, Grice) today ... and I'll write more on that later. For now, I'm speeeeeeent. And it's effing Halloween! My favorite of all holidays.

(Don't know why this didn't post yesterday.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last Minute Screening, Too Much Skin?, The Guitar

I just screened a last-minute add-on film (I suppose it's apparent I have nothing to do), which was pretty impressive. I need to think on it some more before I come up with my opinion, but "impressive" is undeniable. It's called "The Guitar," and it's the directorial debut of Robert Redford's daughter, Amy.

A woman finds out she has cancer, and is to die in a month or two. Her boyfriend abandons her, saying he needs to find his "inner child." So, she fills her last allotted time giving a big eff you to the life she's known.

Though a somewhat typical find-yourself setup at first glance, it was pretty unique; there was perhaps a little too much skin, sex and orgiastic play at some points for a lunch-break viewing. Keen to see how I ultimately feel about it, upon more thought.

No sleep tonight.

Job Loss, Great Depression, "The Night of the Hunter"

I arrived at work today to find an email awaiting from a friend asking whether I'd heard these rumors about a third of Goldman's bankers getting the axe, talk of no bonuses, etc.

A minute later, a message from another friend whose financial services company finds out today what (large) percentage of people are receiving pink slips, and what groups will be gone entirely; his boss, who often works virtually, came into the office today.

"Such a weird day...its so dark outside and people are finding out if they're getting fired," he said.

I glanced out the window and, shudder. What sad, scary times.

I tried to think of some funny Great Depression clips to cheer myself up, but the first thing that came to mind was the crazy, awesome movie I watched (fell asleep to) last night, "The Night of the Hunter," which takes place in GD times.

It's an old movie (1955), so while I'd read up on it and how "revolutionary" it was, how it really pushed the envelope, how psychologically thrilling and eerie it was -- "Yeah, sure," I thought. "It's old. Can't be anything compared to what these eyes have seen."


It's about a religious fanatic, who's a self-dubbed "Preacher." He (Robert Mitchum) has LOVE and HATE tattooed across the knuckles of his right and left hands, respectively (This is also a classic movie that, when you watch it, you immediately get references that are dropped in modern movies that you'd heretofore glossed over.) He roams the countryside killing women after the Lord hath spoken to him.

There are scenes of him in erotic dance houses, as he sits in the audience watching the women writhe with a vicious, loathsome, yet clearly yearning, look on his face. It's chill-inducing.

He finally has to go to jail for a stolen car. While there he meets a man who's been sentenced to death for killing two men and stealing their $10,000 (There's a line where the imprisoned man says he was just too tired of these oblivious, rich, banker-types stealing money from the rest of the impoverished U.S., which I thought resonated to today's time). The Preacher learns that the man's only told his two children (aged 9 and 4) where the money is.

Upon release, the Preacher finds the family, marries the wife, tells her in one of the eeriest scenes I've seen in a long time that he will never consummate the marriage; her body is only for childbearing; and that she's a horrible sinner. The acting is amazing and he goes on to brainwash her and ... well, we'll leave it at that.

A little more scary and depressing than fearing the loss of one's job. But ...

I screened "Splinter" and "Role Models" yesterday. I put "The Night of the Hunter" in too attempt to remind myself that I like movies.

The trailer kind of makes it just look like some old movie, but it's really twisted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Self Note, Jerry Maguire, Too Much Information

Let’s just take one last look.

We wave good-bye. A good-bye to past, err, current circumstance.

I’ve become a clichéd 25-year-old girl.

I was musing on it this morning in my head, and that’s the end result. I’m lying on my stomach at the time, as that’s the only way I can be “comfortable” on the now-entirely deflated air mattress that is my bed. So, I’m lying on rubber on the hardwood floor. The birds won’t stop squawking at me from right outside the window that won’t close right. And, while the sun’s reared its head, it still doesn’t illuminate the room since the overhead light went out days ago; I’ve been using only the TV and my computer for light (I did bring in an intermittent lamp, but it lasted two days – it’s got to be the outlets in this place).

Sobbed like I’d lost my baby brother (I don’t have one, so there shouldn’t be any jinxing.)

Heart-broken, hate (parts of) my job, have few friends to count on, the list I drew out in my head – oh, it started to get long.

The sobbing lasted aboouuuuut 30 seconds. And, I think I was trying to pull it out of me, in a way: “God, this is how you’re living Morgan? You should be so depressed. And sad, be sad. God, affect some sadness!” I may have even tried to shake my shoulders somewhat, but that was impeded by them knocking round on the floor.

Then I snapped myself out of it. Think, think. [Blink, blink.]

And then, I did my characteristic giggling. Rolled over (ouch, watch the right side, the femur’s still sore) and stared at the bouncing DVD cube on the television set.

It’s as if I’ve tried to fast forward through so many emotional things they say “writers” must experience to, well, write well. You can’t write experience if you don’t have it.

I could’ve hobbled over, taken a chair and fixed the overhead light. Or, called our Super, Frank, and had him do it. He’d have taken care of the window, too, I’m sure. I could’ve gimped over to the closet and gotten out the mattress inflator and inflated up the bed. I could’ve bought a real bed. Nope, just didn’t do it. I could’ve gotten over boy by being a floozy. Well.

Maybe I put myself through these self-inflicted inconveniences so I could know how it feels, and how it feels to get myself out of them. I dwell, but I don’t have much tolerance for cliché.

I giggled after the brief bout of sadness because I got an idea for a funny story. One that hopefully I’ll start on today. And, I know that I’m moving, sadly not to L.A. just yet, but to a better-suited apartment.

No more time to be sad. And I made a new resolution, which I’ll keep to myself for now.

Self meeting, adjourned.

"A breakdown? A break through. I couldn't escape one, single thought." Thank you, Jerry Maguire. We shall see.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boss's Email, Newman's Own, New Halloween Decision

Bossman just sent me a note regarding the signature in my work messages.

Everyone puts a little quote, or a funny saying -- my beloved work neighbor, the 52-year old man who keeps me sane and makes me laugh, changes it every day: "R.I.P. [insert famous person]" after checking one of his favorite sites, a Celebrity Death Beeper.

My boss just wrote: "You're still mourning Paul Newman???"

"Still. I've had an empty box of his [Newman's Own] raisins that David brought me over a year ago sitting on my desk. He's angled so he can watch me type. I was in love with him for more than half my life. :'-("

(My first reaction was to send Boss my blog post about the morning I found out. "Ooohhh, another reader," she shamelessly thinks. Thankfully, I let that idea sit on the brain for a minute and thought better of it.)

It made me sad, again.

But, it spurred the inspiration for my Halloween costume. I'm going to be a shackled Cool Hand Luke, I believe. I was going to be Chigurh from No Country, but where would I get that kind of weapon? Lofty goals, Grice. Shackles, I think I can handle.

A terribly sad, famous 00:40 seconds:

Slice: `Billy the Kid' Documentary, Looks Sweet, Thank You VSL

Oh, how I love when the Very Short List plops something down in my inbox. They've introduced me to so many interesting things on the Interweb. They were, after all, the folks who found Man on Wire for me. That was such an eye-opener, and something I'd never have found on my own. Today, they gave me a new documentary that it sounds like I'll fall in love with. It's "Billy the Kid," and of it, they write:

Adolescent angst is well-mined territory for writers and filmmakers. So it’s a credit to first-time filmmaker Jennifer Venditti that her documentary, Billy the Kid (available on DVD next week), feels so fresh and yet still so painfully familiar.

This Billy is a troubled and lonely 15-year-old living in rural Maine. A Van Halen enthusiast who practices karate and dreams of wooing distressed damsels, Billy’s got it rougher than most: “I’m different in the mind, different brain,” he says at the start of the film (after filming was completed, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome).

Her first film and she won Best Documentary at several film festivals. Impressive.

Walk Home From `Zack and Miri,' Flashes of Doom, More Luke: Summer of Sam

I was bopping along the street earlier this evening (well, now, yesterday), walking back from the screening of “Zack and Miri” (hmm.). Mama Grice hadn’t picked up the phone yet – I’d gotten off at a wrong subway stop and had to walk home, so I called for some company. No answer: how infuriating a feeling, it’s so unfair, given my horrible call-screening tendencies, but … play it as it lays.

So, I’m bopping along, one of the best friends (who answered) tells me she’s at a Hanson concert in Times Sq. (weep, weep for humanity), when I turn down my street.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in a good little neighborhood. Lots of fashionable young gay men making me feel disdain for myself and my unwashed hair, and even more-obscenely unwashed clothes.

I was probably dreaming of Lucas and how I was going to kill him.

Suddenly, this man on a bike comes soaring past.

“Oh, hey, Mr. Bicyclist, maybe I’ll look and greet your eye,” I think.

He greets it and gives me a snarly, terrible smile. One that says, “Oh, hello, my sweet, I’d like to skin you and wear you as a body suit.” I have been brutally putting on pounds, of late.

It was jarring. I swept my brain away from Story Luke and started getting nervous. Me, a seemingly strong girl of Brute sensibility, I started to panic. Ooohh, I’m walking through subsidized housing. It sure is dark out here. Quite dark.

I start to eye every waking, walking person within vicinity of eye’s reach.

Paranoia. Looking behind one’s back. The whole nine.

I call my mom repeatedly, getting more frustrated (she’d been making dinner for Little Morgan, god, what’s wrong with me?)

But, oh, what a sense of horror and flashes of doom.

Sure, I should be aware that walking home alone is not ideal (ahem, Grice, it was about 8:30pm), but acting out the terrors of movies you lull yourself to sleep with? Not ideal. Oy, vey.

Reminded me of Summer of Sam with John Leguizamo. I’ve only seen parts of it (man, the more I think about it, the more I realize I should be checked for narcolepsy. I saw that many moons ago, and by “saw” means I was in my teens and never saw the end—because it was dark, I was comfortable, and zonked out. Sigh. Netflix!).

Monday, October 20, 2008

More on Killing Luke (Over and Over) and Groundhog Day

I had a long advisory talk with Friend last night about my short story on Killing Luke. He's my biggest L.A. advocate (My resolve to move changes with whichever way the wind's blowing, it would seem. Sigh. One of these, the longer I wait, the less inclined I'll be to go. But, just how imprudent can I be at this age? Things with reviewing seem more promising at work? Double sigh.), so I have to temper his optimistic thoughts on the story somewhat. But he liked it and he's one of only two people I've released the strangehold grip I have on whatever I write and has read it.

You'd think given my ability to ramble on a blog, I'd have less feelings of insecurity when I show someone something I've written. Nope.

Anyway, so after the Lengthy Discussion, we came to the conclusion that I'd have to insert some kind of thread that would play out in each iteration where we kill him. Not sure exactly what it will be. Maybe some motivating power of love -- though, I sort of want to steer clear of "feelings." Maybe the sense he gets is some sickness. Maybe we're in some variation of The Truman Show. It will be fun to figure out why he's got to die Groundhog Day-style. Maybe he's not even dead? But then why does he fantasize so vividly (if I do say so myself, ha.) about his imminent death? That could work, maybe.

I wrote all afternoon and evening, and managed to kill him 5 times. Progress.

"I have a great body, and sometimes I go months without looking." A short, cute scene from "Groundhog Day."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

5 a.m., Sunday, `Oh, I should watch that screener,' Amazing: Dear Zachary

It was about 5a.m. when I awoke.

"Sheesh, it's a Sunday. What am I to do?" I question myself.

I knew I couldn't go back to bed.

"Oohh, I have that screener I have to watch. What better time than now?" I probably said aloud, to myself.

It was "Dear Zachary." It's about a movie-maker whose best friend is dead. This is a documentary, mind you, and he's endeavored on a project that's going to lead him down already-hard paths -- but now, he finds the most tragic, tear-inducing, upsetting, horrible!!!!, misery-making, news mid-filmmaking. He carries on. True passion is seen, it's taken hold of. And ... it's just, mind-blowing that he was able to follow through. Kurt Kuenne is going to find a personal e-mail in his inbox from me ... and if people see his movie, he'll find multitudes more.

I'm going to be writing the review, so I can't write too much. But. It was ... well, I know my final line: "Filmmakers can only hope for this type of product. You've set a goal and, you've achieved it."

It's not only about the death of his best friend ... the woman who's killed him fled to Canada and we watch the horrible, inefficient extradition process unfold. We see that she ... well, no, no more unfolding. It'll be left for the review.

But I couldn't help but write that if you see, hear, read or ... whatever ... about the movie... If you want anger and upset at the judicial system -- err, life -- you should see it. I don't know what the release will be like, but ... oy.

It's so very worth it.

On a more happy note, I spent yesterday in Brooklyn with a writer friend and she liked Luke. Maybe that's what I should channel my energy towards, instead of watching movies that will lay all faith in humanity to rest.

I'll search more for the trailer of Dear Zachary (it's being updated on the site) later, but I urge anyone to check it out. But probably not at 5am on a Sunday morning ... I'm going to sit on my hands all day now because of it, I know. Wow.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Short Story, Humiliation, Stranger Than Fiction

I embarrassed myself yesterday. No, I didn't go out and get drunk, stumble about and make a fool of myself -- though I don't blame you for that reflex assumption. I embarrassed myself yesterday.

So, since I had the day off work and wasn't tromping around the city, exploring and delighting myself as I'd hoped, I decided to start working on a short story. And, oh, how I wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote and the words were just pouring out of me. I was making myself chuckle, which isn't unusual, but which is also embarrassing; I was just flying.

I was writing this story about a character named Lucas Jackson. From the start, you know three things about him. One, that he hates that he'd been named after a legendary onscreen character (Cool Hand Luke ... couldn't help it). Two, he's been given terribly bad physical genes, giving him incurable insecurity. And, three, that he knows he's going to die. He has a "sense," and that sense tells him it's in two weeks time.

Poor Luke.

Well, so I go on to tell the reader that we're going to kill him, it's sad but true, and that there's no way around it. Given his sense and all.

So, the plan was to write iterations of the way he dies. In the first, he's this rockstar -- he'd taken up the guitar at an early age to win over the ladies, muting the fact that he's horrendous looking -- and he's spotted by a drunken agent who'd gone to Hawaii (Luke's home, in this one), swept off to L.A. And, without getting into more of the details, he ends up dying two weeks after he's felt this sense of imminent doom -- and, we're left not knowing whether it was a self-fulfilling prophecy ... maybe he led himself to death. No one will ever know, because now Luke's dead.

Anyway, so I'm rereading, getting ready to go see "W" -- which didn't happen!! The 10:10pm showing even was sold out. Cruel, cruel world. Saw Max Payne instead ... cruel, cruel world.

Suddenly, it hits me that I'm totally ripping off "Stranger Than Fiction." I mean, not really but, kind of. It was subconscious! I felt so stupid. And when I got home from the movies, I tried to work more on Luke ... but, I had such guilt.

Who knows if I'll be able to pick it up again.

To atone for my sins, perhaps I'll just show "Stranger Than Fiction."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Movie Roundup for Weekend of Oct. 17

So, here we are again, my friends. These are some of the fine films (or, terribly bad films is probably more accurate -- sorry.) you'll find at a theater near you starting...right now.

Get there. As for me, I have a very important date tonight; and, we're seeing "W." What a lady of leisure I am today.

W (Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, and Ioan Gruffudd)

Rotten Tomatoes

The Secret Life of Bees (Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, and Paul Bettany)

Rotten Tomatoes

Sex Drive (James Marsden, Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Katrina Bowden, Seth Green, and Clark Duke)

Rotten Tomatoes

Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, and Olga Kurylenko)

Rotten Tomatoes

Will report back on Dubya.

A Day Off Work, More Office Space, New Movies to Review!

I came back from lunch yesterday to an e-mail from my boss's deputy. It sat in the inbox, glowering at me.

I circled it like a vulture, nibbling on the bits of e-mail spam surrounding it. I didn't want to click. Why was he e-mailing me? On a day like yesterday, the mind went wild.

I clicked to find a gift:

"Morgan, I'm making the schedule and realized I have you down as taking a vacay day tomorrow. Is that still happening?"

Say what?

Ahhhh! I requested today off long ago, an amazing show of forethought on my part; I'm still impressed.

I sat thinking about it, and realized he'd just told me I'd found 20 bucks in my back pocket.

I explained that my trip was no longer happening, but why not? I'll just take the day.

"Well, you don't have to. You could still work."

"Hmm, no, no, [sloth, sigh.] I have some things to take care of."

Oh, the day will be my oyster, I thought. I could take care of apartment stuff, maybe go out to Brooklyn ... always wanted to tromp around the park there ... so many things.

Nope. I've read about movies, watched two of them and started thinking about writing a Choose Your Own Adventure. I realize that maybe I'm okay with doing nothing?

Like Peter's response to what he'd do with a million dollars in Office Space.

I also found out the new movies I'll be reviewing!! Yesterday was pretty awesome.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Kevin Smith movie, with Seth Rogen ... saw the posters for it in L.A. Meh, SR needs to slow down his movie pace.

Splinter: There's only one person I'd take to the screening to see this with me. "Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror." Yikes, awesome.

Dear Zachary: "A filmmaker trying to memorialize his murdered friend discovers that the woman who killed him was pregnant with his late friend's son." Oh, no.

The next week is:
Role Models: "Danny and Wheeler were just sentenced to 150 hours mentoring kids. Worst idea ever." Ahhh, sounds like worst movie idea ever.

Repo! The Genetic Opera: He said I could skip this one. Might. "A worldwide epidemic encourages a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program similar in nature to a standard car loan. The repossession clause is a killer, however."

Eden: "A married couple's relationship begins to fall apart as their 10th wedding anniversary approaches." NEXT!

The Boy in Striped Pajamas: This one's supposed to be good. "Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slice: `Lethal Weapon 5' Is Perhaps No More, Says Donner

It was just pointed out to me by Work Friend that the alleged "Lethal Weapon 5," which had so lifted my spirits but a week ago seems to be dead in the water. Say it isn't so, Richard Donner!
Nope, Donner says, it's so, as reported by Coming Soon:

"It's too bad, actually, because Channing Gibson, who wrote the fourth one, and Mike Riva, a designer on three of them, and myself and Derek [Hoffman, an associate at The Donner Company] had an incredibly strong story for the fifth movie. But we weren't given the opportunity and I think maybe I could have convinced Mel to do it. But Warners chose to go with Joel Silver."

"Yes, the project is pretty much dead in the water unless someone had the sense to come to me."

I like his candor. Unfortunately, so few people seem to have any sense. The full L.A. Times article is here, if anyone cares that much. Doubtful.

Faith in Humanity (?), Workplace, and Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!

Oh, the guilt.

"I've reserved a room for us at 1p.m. I've really thought about it and I'd like to hear more about how you're feeling."

(You would?)

We had our talk. A long, cathartic one.

I let it out -- again, twice in one day! All of it. Sure, I couldn't really meet his eye, but boy did I ramble.

Problems with motivation. Unrequited enthusiasm! No acknowledgment of effort!!

"Morgan, I didn't mean to be unenthusiastic about your ideas. I just ... I just ... AH! I SEND OUT EMAILS ALL THE TIME asking people for original ideas!!! I WANT to be producing original stuff. But no one responds. [hypothetical tear]. Well, you do ... but ... It's just frustrating. I have to DEAL with all these people ... and no one ... Well ..."


My face, recognizing his frustration. Mouth, agape.

Gasp. (Internal: We do have a lot of duds hanging around.)

"Morgan, I think you're brilliant. I really do."

(Aw, ... oh, gosh ... come here you big lug.)

"I think you just need to communicate better." (Sting! Yes, yes it's true. In so many ways.)

"TELL ME when you stay late. Come in late the next day! Even if you don't, know that you can. TELL ME when you're reviewing. I didn't even know 'til recently!!" (Well, I told you. One point for me, but also, point taken.)

Faith in humanity a bit restored. Kind of like the first time you watched "Rudy."

Friend just said: i want the non filtered version. not just the blog stuff.

That's strangely how it went.

More on Bossman, Unknown Spirit, and Fight Club: Who Am I?


"So, Morgan Grice, how are you feeling?" asks bossman.

[Blink, blink]

"Terribly." The floodgates opened, and I was swept away by some rapturously unknown spirit. I said everything! I threw around words like "unappreciated," and "frustrated," and "discouraged"! Who am I??

I am a quiet seether. I fume, while keeping a smile on my face. What the eff was I doing??

Oh, I let it out.

"First of all, I feeeeeel like, sometimes, not always, of course, you know, that, ummm ... well, I sometimes stay really late or come in on the weekends to work on these projects, after having learned all the editing software on my own [free time] ... and, well ... I just, you know, don't feel ... encouraged to keep doing it?"

Oy. It was much stronger in my head.

"And, you know, I know you know that I've also been doing movie reviews ... and, well ... I do them on my own time ... I have to run [err, hobble] to screenings after work, and ... you know, oftentimes I have to write the review that night ... so, I just ... I don't mind doing it! [disclaim, disclaim, disclaim] but ... I ... well, if I want to keep doing it, it's not that I want to ask for more ... you know ... [chicken!] Well, anyway... I just feel like ... I do a lot, and I want to keep doing it! [disclaim] But ... well, I don't know."

Now. I know that seems like the most yellow-bellied attempt at standing up for oneself. But, he was speechless! He grunted, rubbed his chin, thought about it, looked at me with sympathetic eyes (!!) and ... said nothing.

"Well, you just think about it," I said softly, "and you let me know what we should do."

Then, I turned back to my computer and sighed.

As pathetic a show as it was, I felt like I was in "Fight Club."

Also, hattip Little Amanda for reminding me that today is Boss's Day: http://www.bigdates.com/ecard/category.asp?CGID=6

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Wall Street, Working Girl, Frustration -- So It Is

I went to my boss with an idea today.

There's an influx of MBA applicants (as has been reported by several news media, actually ad nauseam for about a week), so, how's about we do a print/video duo that would put a picture to what's in print about this little lost generation of jerks (:-D), for us.

I sent lots of emails. Lots and lots. The print reporter was so appreciative!

Oh, how lovely I was, sharing my contacts with her.

Me: Thanks ... I just think it's interesting.

Oh, how buoyant I was, taking suggestions, fielding them, filing them away in Brain Grice.

Me: You're right, such and such is a good angle. But then.

I get back to the aforementioned boss's response to my thoughtful, detailed pitch: "Oh, uummm, yeah ... hmm ... I really haven't read it. Well, I did. But ... I ... well, I haven't thought about it."

Really? We're still forging on with the story - but, goodness me. I went above the immediate bossman, to bureau-lady and print hierarchy, and got instant support and enthusiasm. It makes me wonder what was taught to Baby Boomers' generation b-school. Clearly, not very good management.

It reminds me of "Working Girl," where Ms. Griffith gets her ideas thieved by Sigourney Weaver. Sigh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hathaway, Being Obnoxious and My Guilt: Rachel Getting Married

I walked in wanting to hate it -- or at least her -- a pretty terrible admission on my part.

Why walk into things with such a closed mind??

I suppose it's just the way I am, and unfortunately for karma, I had it out for Anne Hathaway. (Think of her history, though!)

We went to this cinema in Westwood, somewhere in the wilds of L.A. We parked in the bowels of some parking garage and wandered up to the blissfully cheap(er than New York) box office for our tickets.

"What're your thoughts going in?" asks the chain-smoking new friend of mine, nervously looking about him as we three others think quietly.

One: "Oh, I love her. I know, I know, it's terrible. She's cheesy and ... well, I just have a celebrity crush on her! I can't help it!!" says the struggling screenwriter sitting next to me, who seems delightfully cynical in general. What's got hold of him???

Two: "Meh, I don't know. She's hot. I heard this movie's pretty good," says the dispassionate acquaintance.

Me: "She's going to be terrible!!!!!! Ahhhh, what's WRONG with you guys??!?!? Have you SEEN those NY taxi ads, lauding her as some brilliant, versatile young starlet?? [no, we're in LA, idiot] This is going to be bad."

I was very wrong. It was very good. SHE was very great.

Hathaway plays this 25 year-old girl who's recently left rehab, lands back at home in Connecticut to a sister who's getting married, a father who's hilariously domestic and effeminate, and a mother who's unavailable.

There's a great juxtaposition of Hathaway's nervous, negative energy being dropped into a wedding that's like a harmonious little haiku -- a bongo-playing band is continuously playing in the backrop of one of the most politically correct-seeming weddings of all time. Black man, marrying white woman, nontraditional, everyone loves everyone -- and we're in Connecticut.

Hathaway has an avenue to show all the manic tendencies one would be feeling at that time. And she really nails it, without being toooooooo cliche and over the top (there are times of that, of course, but they're easily overshadowed by The Good).

I really liked it. Once again, "Rachel Getting Married":

PS: Happy birthday, Brother.

On Being Wrongly-Convicted, Shawshank, Santa Barbara

"So, what would your last meal be?" I ask, creepily. "Let's say you're on death row, and you've to send in your final food request. What would it be?" I clarify, more creepily.

"Oh, I don't know -- my tastes have changed so much over the years. You know? Like when I was a kid, it would've been ..." he responds, thoughtfully, as we shovel Santa Barbaran Mexican food into our fat faces. "Yours?"

"Pancakes, with scrambled eggs. And I'd want to eat as much as I could before I felt it all sink in to feel full and terrible. Then they could flip the switch," I respond, seamlessly. Yikes.

[Blink, blink]

"Hmm. Well, the real question is, Why did you end up on death row, Grice??"

The mind went aflutter.

Brother Grice has been shot dead. I find the villain and retaliate, vigilante-style. No. Little Morgan's been 'napped; I've found where they're holding her hostage and I snipe the perps, SWAT-style. No, no. Mama Grice has fallen comatose. The man whose fault it is is about to pull the plug in a stealth hospital-worker move. I knife him, saving her, of course; I'm found at fault for taking matters into my own hands.

No, no, no. None of these work -- I'd plea insanity (after having secured an un-securable top attorney) and probably would be left to rot in the jailhouse for all eternity. But no death row. Sigh.

I'd have to be wrongly convicted, I fear. Like Mr. Robbins in Shawshank.

One of my favorite Morgan Freeman scenes: