Friday, October 31, 2008
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
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.
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
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
A terribly sad, famous 00:40 seconds:
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.
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
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
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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.
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
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)
The Secret Life of Bees (Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, and Paul Bettany)
Sex Drive (James Marsden, Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Katrina Bowden, Seth Green, and Clark Duke)
Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, and Olga Kurylenko)
Will report back on Dubya.
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?"
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
"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'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."
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.
"So, Morgan Grice, how are you feeling?" asks bossman.
"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
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
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.
"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.
"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:
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Body of Lies (Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Oscar Isaac, and Simon McBurney)
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
The Express (Dennis Quaid, Omar Benson Miller, Rob Brown, Clancy Brown)
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
The Duchess (Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, and Hayley Atwell)
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
City of Ember (Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Martin Landau, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Toby Jones, and Mary Kay Place)
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Annnnnnnd, for good measure "Rachel Getting Married":
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
When what do my wandering eyes find before me?
"Lethal Weapon 5" (!!!!!) is on the fast track, or so says Columbus Short (of movies like Stomp the Yard, Save the Last Dance 2, etc. -- we can't win them all...).
While "Lethal Weapon 4" ought to be erased from our collective consciousness, the three LW's before brought me so much joy as a child that I'll take any reason to see Riggs and Murtaugh again -- no doubt flanked by a couple younger cops who'll make me cringe.
The interview with Short:
I've always loved this clip about the original opening scene of "Lethal Weapon." Oh, how I miss good buddy cop movies.
David Goyer, the guy who came up with the stories for The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, tells MTV that all rumors currently circulating about the next Batman movie are patently false: "It’s all B.S. ALL of it," he says (probably referring to absurd reports that Johnny Depp is playing the Riddler, Cher is playing Catwoman, and that director Christopher Nolan has already signed on).
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I took the opportunity today to tell my little doppelganger about what's happening on Wall Street. (I'm a bad person!)
Morgan: helllllloooooooooo(Maaaayybe my explanation was a bit of an oversimplification, but ... not really and she's 9, I tell myself guiltily. But I already did a nice tribute to WS in "Perks of Fall Street.")
me: hi there baby! just get home from school?
Morgan: ya i just got home i am also talking to daddy
Morgan: what are you working on at work
Sent at 4:53 PM on Tuesday
me: i'm editing an interview of a businessman who lost his job
Sent at 4:57 PM on Tuesday
Morgan: why did he lose his job?
me: well because he worked at a big bank on Wall Street and the bank closed.
Morgan: because of the hurricane?
was he mean?
me: haha, no not because of the hurricane -- though that probably didn't help. he was greedy and he was doing sneaky things, so he might have deserved it. he tricked a lot of people into giving him their money
Morgan: oh that is not good. we still haven't fixed the fence.
My family lives about 20 minutes from Galveston, where Hurricane Ike recently ravaged the city, hence baby Morgan's immediate assumption that the businessman above must've been affected by the catastrophe that's affected the Grices.
It got me thinking about a review I read in Salon earlier for "Trouble the Water," a documentary about Hurricane Katrina. It looks great; and I can't help but feel grateful that things didn't go worse for the Grices or anyone else when the rains came.
It's an insane-looking Hong Kong action movie called "PTU: Police Tactical Unit" from director Johnnie To, and from the back it reads:
Acclaimed director Johnnie To ("Election") scores again with this action-packed thriller, nominated for 10 Hong Kong Film Awards. When an obnoxious detective loses his gun to four young thugs, it's up to the Police Tactical Unit and their iron-willed leader to recover the weapon and clean up the mess before daybreak. What follows is "sheer over-the-top delirium" (Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter), as their mission intersects with a gangland assassination that threatens to ignite an all-out war. Gripping and unpredictable, PTU is a masterpiece of stylized cool and explosive action.Have I found another "Old Boy"??!! ("Kidnapped for No Reason, Well There's Always a Reason") How exciting.
I haven’t been in about a year-and-a-half, and the last time I went I had a surprisingly good time. We didn’t go out, and spent the majority of the trip in Newport Beach, on the beach, or biking around docks, me being introduced to old Friend’s family and friends. We did a lot of things I like, and I came back with a new sense of respect for the place.
I was spared the uncivil, superficial aspects of the city that I’ve come to associate it with after visiting several times over the years.
But at a time when I’m considering what I want to do with myself – long-term – I’m nervous that this trip could go either way.
What if I love it? What if I meet movie folk and am inspired and decided to become a M.A.W. (though, in my case it would be a W.W. – a “Writer or Whatever,” instead of “Model, Actress or Whatever”)?
Could I actually leave New York?
It seems implausible; but, considering I left League City, TX four days after high-school graduation, I know I can be impulsive if it feels right.
What a change that would be. Maybe it would work out great and I’d look back a year from now and cringe that I hadn’t had the gall to pursue something earlier for fear of change.
But maybe I’ll get there and remember why I couldn’t move out there post-college in the first place. Who knows?
It does give me the opportunity to draw back on one of my favorite clichéd flicks from the 90s. “Swingers”! It was silly to say for so many years, but remember “You’re so money, baby”? Oh, to have coined that phrase.
We went back to our recently-discovered house of fun, Fat Cat, intent on stepping up our fledgling backgammon game. A few minutes after seating ourselves in the warm womb of our booth, however, we realized we’d forgotten how to set up the pieces. And we were shaky on a few of the rules.
Actually, we might've played backgammon – we may have just been bouncing around little shards of marble, talking about each piece as if he were an animate object trying to race towards his “home.” Oh well.
After consulting a Blackberry, politely contradicting one another with our take on the rules, we settled on some fundamentals and set off to play.
Ah, how I love games. It was actually a little embarrassing explaining to the Roommates that instead of staying home to watch Gossip Girl or The Hills or whatever, we’d be wandering down to the W. Village again to seclude ourselves in a corner to talk ourselves through strategy. But it was so fun – once we started, we were soon getting excited talking about our rudimentary statistical analysis (probably -- no, definitely -- only half-correct) of the benefits of this or that move.
I won’t link to King of Kong again, though I still love the obsessive tendencies people have with their little games. Another great movie dealing with similar, if more intelligent-seeming, obsessions is “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” I don’t know why it’s always stuck out in my memory (perhaps the friend's name being Morgan played a role); maybe I was just interested in movies about smart little kids, considering I was 10 years old when I saw it. Such a great movie.
Monday, October 6, 2008
It happens pretty often, as I tend to walk around with an annoying woe-is-me, weight-of-the-world mentality, (something I should work on).
But this is really, really bad.
I was skimming my Google Movie blogs, searching for a Slice of news to offer about the upcoming Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro collaboration (!!) when I was slapped in the face with the horrifying news that "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" was NUMBER ONE at the box office this weekend. $29 million worth of worthless tickets were sold.
I just ... I just ... I'm speechless. As if I weren't already scared enough for the U.S., now my fleeting faith in humanity has me feeling like Wendy hiding in the bathroom as Jack comes after her with the axe. (In "The Shining.") If I don't read good things about the Scorsese/Deniro movie, I may be too depressed to move.
I really wasn't going to write more on Paul Newman, but I just had to highlight this David Letterman tribute. I've been trying to figure out Twitter and I ran into this link after starting to "follow" a fellow Newman mourner.
Letterman has a surprisingly sincere and thoughtful opening where he shares his personal stories about PN and explains just how generous he was. He says that he was a saint. I agree :'-(
The actual tribute starts at about 07:30, which is really worth watching.
Okay, it's time to get myself moving on and out of this grieving process!
That's when I had to shut the operation stay-awake down.
But, it reminded me of Kathy Bates in "Misery." She was Paul Sheldon's (James Caan) "number one fan." Look where it got her (and him). Stephen King, your kitsch makes for such flavorful filmmaking.
I remember making my college roommate watch this movie (which I've probably seen ... hmm ... 100 times?), and she was shocked that she hadn't known of it before. Watch!!!! Bates got the Oscar nod, if that means anything.
You're a writer who gets into an accident; a crazy nurse who follows your work like a fanatic of Dan Brown, finds you. She won't let you leave, and she wants you to finish your novel series in a way specific to her wants. You, the writer, can't let the lead character die. That's her main wish; should you betray her wishes, just be prepared to get your feet knocked aside the ankles with a hobble-inducing (no wonder I like it!) hammer.
I love this movie.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
“Decline and fall can’t ever be easy, but for a star it’s torment. Because, when they are on top, they are so adored. Movie stars, as has been stated elsewhere ad nauseam, are perhaps as close as we come to royalty. So the distance of the drop is much greater than the rest of us may (or will) experience.”
I mentioned before that my friend sent me a bunch of books all about the film industry, either compendiums of film reviews by a particularly persuasive reviewer, or commentary books taking a look at said reviewer’s life, or narratives about their personal dealings with the screen trade. Phew. A lot of beautiful pages of text to untangle. I’ve been reading one that sits in that last category.
It’s William Goldman. He wrote “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which ranks right behind “Cool Hand Luke,” as one of the all-time best films of cinema, for me.
I’m just hitting the 60-page mark, and I have so much in front of me –but it’s wonderful. He speaks so clearly, resonates so universally and really makes you understand why we go to the movies.
The above quote is in his opening about “Stars” and it’s brilliant in its simplicity (the chapter, not necessarily the quote).
He explains from a financial perspective why we have stars, who decides who they are, and all the hapless ways that they stumble onto success; he also delves into the more personal ramifications that go along with their ebbing with the volatile tides of public opinion. I know no one’s going to go out and pick up “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” (though it WAS a national bestseller in the 80s), but at least you can watch a teeny, tiny bit of Butch Cassidy.
It’s such a great movie.
I recently moved to Chelsea. We have a sweet little apartment; it’s cute and quaint and cozy, blah, blah. The roommates are doing a very nice job with decoration, and if I were more social and less aesthetically-challenged, I’d try to lend a hand beyond signing a check to pay my share. Alas.
I really love the neighborhood, though. I’d become very well-versed on the ‘hood about 10 blocks south, and now my knowledge has expanded northward. It’s nice.
I get off the train each evening, and as I hobble up the subway stairs, I’m greeted by some beautiful faces. Those of some transvestites that congregate near the entrance of my subway station.
Every time I’m met with their painted mugs, I smile, exchange a couple pleasantries and I’m on my way, skipping along the street towards my home. And every time, I can’t help but think of one of my embarrassingly favorite movies. (“Embarrassing” because it’s twisted and weird; I made Mama G watch it a while back, and she just shot back with a sigh and “Oh, Morgan, you’re so warped.”)
I wrote about it before in passing, how it was one of the movies I saw at my old $7 cinema and how it was one that altered my view on films fundamentally. There have been plenty of those, but I’ll never shake this one as a milestone in Morgan’s movie history.
It’s “La Mala Educacion,” or, “The Bad Education” for the American Exceptionalists among us. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a wanna-be actor who’ll do anything to sell himself for a role. Anything, it seems. Abusive Catholic priests, cocaine habits and homosexual scenes abound. It’s so, so good.
It’s by Pedro Almodovar, so I suppose it really doesn’t need my accolades.
I just plucked it from my DVD rack, and Peter Travers has: “A Rapturous Masterwork! ****” Yes, sir, you are a shill; but he’s pegged it right this time.
I was having a wistful little moment, much akin to my moment when I was cherishing my remote control. I looked up, sweetly, to admire the trees and the (decrepit) building in front of me, when suddenly: Pigeons! Zooming at my face like they were seagulls descending upon the city. First thing I thought of was Hitchcock. Free association never worked so well.
This is the corpse scene, avert eyes if you lack a strong stomach.
The guy who lives next door works night-shifts for NYPD (stealth), and he's had to step by me for the past couple weeks. We exchange words, lament the jackhammering below us -- and agree on the unfairness of life. Ha.
He just got home and said in his accent-lilted voice: "Joo haven't been out here all night, RIGHT?"
"No, sir, no! I just can't sleep. It's Sunday, though, so I'll be okay."
For some reason, the way we interacted and the way he spoke ... it just reminded me of "The Professional." I'd wanted to clip it after ref'ing Gary Oldman in The Contender, but figured it was too sensory overload.
We waltzed out of an Upper West Side diner – well, I shouldn’t glamorize, it was more like a Hell’s Kitchen bar – and put a question to ourselves: What should we see?
Given that half of Hell’s Kitsch’s Italian mob brass had hassled us for half an hour, it seemed only right that we see an action movie. My friend was fine with that, given her shared taste of commercialized danger.
We walked to 34th St.’s Loews. Looking up at those beautiful blinking/scrolling lights, we had limited choices. Eagle Eye!
No, dios mio, no.
Alright, I’d already had it out for Shy LaBuff, (how dare people describe “Disturbia” as a Hitchcockian film???!!!!) but COME ON! This kid has neither the brains nor the brawn to pass for a sex symbol, and he has no business heeding the words of some secret school of people telling him to duck or move or skate on ice. He just doesn’t, and to continue to cast him in roles where he should suffice as so – it’s unfair.
“You just have to get used to him,” I was told.
“No, they just have to stop using him,” I retorted.
Please, film friend-os, stop using him!!
Friday, October 3, 2008
How dare I leave out my old flame Mr. Maher from the movie roundup?? "Religulous" comes out today, and I might go see it tonight.
I used to stay up every night in high school to watch Politically Incorrect, and tell my mother how one day I'd be his wife. "He's too funny looking, Morgan," was her oft-repeated response. It didn't matter, I loved his nerve and (obnoxiously) combative ways.
My feelings for him cooled long ago, but I'm psyched to see his movie.
This also reminds me of a movie I finally saw a few weeks ago, "Jesus Camp." It didn't have the same celebrity power behind it, leaving it too-little noticed. It's really great and really scary/depressing.
Consider Sen. Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) in "The Contender." She's being appointed VP after the death of the former second-in-charge; lots of hullabaloo surrounds her nomination, as would be expected. She's a LADY, for god's sake. (Difference between real-life and movie-life, however, is that she's respectable. Oops.)
Cue Gary Oldman as Shelly Runyon, the nasty and below-the-belt confirmation committee chairman who wants to see to it that Hanson never makes it to office. He unleashes the political hounds on her, videos of her "sexual deviancy" spread and the movie quickly becomes a modern classic for its genre.
I secretly hope we have a Shelly Runyon on old Joe Six Pack right now. (Oops, again! Contain yourself, Grice.)
(For some reason I can't embed it, but "The Contender" trailer is here.)
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Right off the bat, Starz's "Starz Play" lineup will contain hits like No Country for Old Men, Superbad and other recent hits. Can Netflix convince studios to release movies at the start of or during theatrical release? That would be a major coup -- but that's quite a paradigm shift for the movie studio industry as well.
Farewell friends, one step closer to reclusion.
Flash of Genius (Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Alan Alda, Bill Smitrovich, Tim Kelleher, and Jake Abel)
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor, Jay Baruchel, Rafi Gavron, and Aaron Yoo)
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Blindness (Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Gael Garcia Bernal, Sandra Oh, and Danny Glover)
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Huston, Gillian Anderson, Megan Fox, Max Minghella, and Jeff Bridges)
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Thinking more on the Coen Bros, I was reminded of their 5-minute bit in "Paris, Je T'aime," the movie that compiled some 18 or so 3-5 minute shorts shot by all the biggest directors, starring all the biggest stars.
Theirs was one of my favorites.
It stars Steve Buscemi sitting in the Metro waiting for his train. He flips open his Paris guidebook and starts reading the romantic descriptions of the "city for lovers." An obnoxiously affectionate couple enters on the other side of the station. Just as he reads in his little book that "eye contact should be avoided at all costs," he looks up and meets the eye of the beautiful girlfriend.
It sets off a hilarious, very Coen, confrontation where Buscemi never mutters a word, but doesn't need to. Those expressions -- amazing.
They have the 5-minute video entitled "Tuileries" on YouTube. It deserves a watch.
Dear God, I will never take it for granted again.
I have a huge fear of confrontation – real or imagined, as it were.
Until late Tuesday night, I’d avoided confronting the Coen Bros, by making excuse after excuse to not see “Burn After Reading.” I’d read mixed reviews; friends had given mixed reactions; and that paralyzing fear of face-offs had me gripped in such a way that would’ve made No Country’s Chigurh proud.
But after being closed out of Cosi a couple nights ago, I walked into the muggy Manhattan air, breathed deep, and headed south to Union Sq. I would see the 10:50pm showing.
I know the Coens have a weird sense of humor, but, for me, they are brilliant.
Since I was a little kid, “High” from Raising Arizona was a favorite character of mine. The parole board responding to his affirmed rehabilitation with “Well, Okaaaaaaaaaay then,” was a line oft-repeated in the Grice household.
For its part, Lebowski is a name only dropped when someone is ready for a full-blown impersonation, replete with spot-on quotes and gestures to boot.
Burn After Reading doesn’t quite reach the heights of Arizona or Lebowski, but it shares several similarities. The brothers clearly have certain stock characters that they continue to draw upon. But Burn has some startlingly brutal punches, showing just how versatile they are – hence the brilliance.
How people find much fault with this film is beyond me. Brad Pitt could’ve been a little less overzealous, but alas.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last night, I drifted off into peaceful slumber as Pulp Fiction flickered from the beautiful glowing box at my feet; so, it was a typical night for Grice.
I was dreaming about rainbows and butterflies, I'm sure, when I awoke to the worst stomachache I've had in years! It was as if some evil, obscene creature had crawled into my gut, grabbing onto the innerlining of my precious innards with its ferocious little paws. I writhed in pain; I wept a few tears (almost); and searched my brain for what could be the cause.
It could be the appalling diet I've maintained of late, I decided.
Which got me thinking of this scene from "Hannibal":
I recently re-watched Dr. Lecter after a friend and I got into a debate about its worthiness; we were talking about the upcoming "Body of Lies" (Ahh, the excitement.) and discussing the merit of Ridley Scott's movies. I hadn't liked Hannibal the first time around, and he was convinced that I should rewatch it. I'm glad I did. It was a really great movie, and you see someone eat their own brain?! Bleh.
Also, trailer for "Body of Lies," which looks awesome.