Thursday, December 24, 2009

Slice: Merry Christmas Eve, Cinema 2009 YT

So, my roommate just sent me this YouTube -- as I watched it, I sounded like I had Tourette's ...

"Public Enemy!"

"District 9!"

"Inglourious ..."

"Where the Wild Things...!"

"Twilight: New ...!"

"500 Days of ...!"

"Serious Man!"


"Pirate Radio!"

"An Education!"

"Away We G...!"


"Up in the...!"


"Julie and Julia!"

I dare everyone to try to name them all ... it goes so fast! By the end of the 7-minute mash-up, I realize I missed a few. I tried so hard to see so many, many movies -- even some of the worst (G.I. Joe, 2012); I spent so much money that it's despicable.

But, as mediocre as I thought 2009 was movie-wise (personally-wise ... it was the pits, but, that's what movies are for!), I know that in 2010 I can go back and watch a bunch more 2009-ers as I try to tread the '10 waters.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Back to Bad Blake, Crazy Heart

As expected, I fell pretty hard for the characters in “Crazy Heart.”

Jeff Bridges
as Bad Blake, a rundown, alcoholic cowboy singer, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean Craddock, the young, beautiful journalist who
becomes Bad’s unlikely darling—all set to dreamy folk songs that take me back to my roots (Fictional Bad Blake is from my hometown of Houston).

How could I not fall hard?

From the start,
Bad is despicably charming. In the opening scene, he slams shut the door to his beat-up Suburban—Bessie—sidles out unsteadily, and looks up to see he’s been booked to play at a bowling alley in the rural Southwest. At that, he swears, spits, and shoves his hand inside his truck to pull out his portable toilet—a plastic jug (looks like it once housed anti-freeze?) and dumps the contents on the pavement.

Maybe that gesture’s only despicable, and not charming, but to each his own.

Despite this delightful start, as the film moved forward, I didn’t expect to find the story as – perhaps, predictable? Rote?

After we watch Bad give a few performances where he barely
(though still, somehow, charmingly?) makes it on stage because he keeps stumbling behind the bar to retch; after he sleeps with the dregs of these honky-tonk bars; after we see him repeatedly fall asleep with McClure’s whiskey on his big belly, only to wake up face first in his own filth; after we … well, understand just how dire his situation is, he meets Craddock and suddenly he’s somehow got a will to live. His whole demeanor changes, if not his unsavory habits.

Though there are c
ertainly some spins on this tried-and-true story of an old, washed-up drunk who seeks redemption and perhaps a new lease on life, I guess I wished for a little more originality.

Bridges is more than fantastic as Blake, as everyone’s saying, and he sings all of his own songs in the movie; Gyllenhaal is too gorgeous for words, per usual. And, there is a great story there.

I’ve just seen it so, so many times.

Next up, "Invictus," which I saw last night as part of a double feature.

I should've gotten
2+ more hours of sleep and saved my pennies (I really tried to like it, too!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Slice: New Paul Posters, Abalone Shells, "The Sting," Etc.

It's been a good while since I've done some doting on him.

I've spent the past couple weeks fixing up my new Brooklyn digs, and I've been surprising myself at how adept at adult life I've managed to be. I wended my way to IKEA by myself, after standing underneath a Crooklyn overpass, where I heard none other than:

"Baby, you can't take me ANYWHERE without a condom and some money. I know, KNOW, you don't got either of that. bye bye!"

At that, i almost started to run for fear of some airborne VD, but then the bus came and i went to IKEA. I took a car service home.

But, I bought a desk, a lamp, a trash can, etc. and managed to tote it home all by myself. Might've sprained my back (nothing like a fractured femur!) getting everything up the four flights, but, nothing a little bed rest couldn't cure -- a bed I'd managed to get up those same four flights alone.

While I twiddle my thumbs, thinking of what should adorn the wall facing my bed, there's only one thing -- one man -- I want to wake up to every morning.

The large prints are ordered, the frames will be bought today -- I'll get to wake up to Paul every morning, staring at me, as I stare back into his dreamy blue eyes.

Some good Newman clips -- oh, how I miss him being around this dreamworld.

"Cool Hand 1":

"Cool Hand 2":

"The Sting":

Friday, December 18, 2009

Slice: Bad Blake, The Dude, "Crazy Heart"

"I'm Bad Blake. My tombstone'll have my real name on it--til then, I'm just gonna stay 'Bad.'"

It's finally out! I've been waiting for "Crazy Heart" to grace the silver screen for months, and today I get to see it. The Dude (err, Jeff Bridges) and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this film about a hard-living, disaster of a country singer, Bad Blake (played by Bridges), and a journalist (Gyllenhaal) that's doing some exposé on the man behind the music.

I'm such a sucker for these two, (and, secretly, sad folksy country music), that I can't imagine I won't love it. Angelika Film Center, here I come to empty my (shallow) pockets, once again. Will report back.

"Crazy Heart" trailer:

And, for shits, a "The Dude" clip because there can never be too many viewings:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Slice: Ode to Ms. Portman, and her New "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" Film

My fondness for Natalie Portman has grown readily, if unsteadily, over the years; the early infatuation began with her role as Mathilda, opposite Jean Reno, in “The Professional” (a film I was much, much too young to have seen in 1994, but that was also the year that “Pulp Fiction” became a favorite—thank you, unaware parents). That fondness subsided when Portman began accepting roles in “Anywhere But Here” and “Where the Heart Is”—and I really thought I'd never regain my affection when she took part in ruining “Star Wars”—not once, but thrice.

But, somewhere around “Garden State” and “Closer,” she became a mainstay in my favorites list of young leading—or, supporting—actresses. She's always been
so beautiful, can be so endearing, yet now she seems to make all the right movie choices.

And, no Great Choice tops the fact that she's signed on to star in and produce “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a film that's based on the book by the same name, by Seth Grahame-Smith “and Austen.” [quotes mine.] This is too great.

“Described as an expanded version of the Austen classic, the book
tells the timeless story of a woman’s quest for love and independence
amid the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns the undead into vicious

Portman will play feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet, who is distracted
from her quest to eradicate the zombie menace by the arrival of the
arrogant Mr. Darcy.”
[Sweet. Darcy was always such a needling foil.]

Given my infatuation for Portman, and my tried-and-true love of good
zombie films—I'm keeping my toes crossed that this was yet another right choice. If not, it's at least bold; and, that's great, too.

"The Maid," Screen Comment, Chilean Films

I originally wrote the following for, but I think once the publisher puts them in my column, they disappear once the next thing's posted (I've written a few other things). So, I'll repost here my thoughts on "The Maid."

The film: Quite compelling and good, if very different.

After watching ten films in twenty-four hours a couple days ago (thank you, Netflix!), a feat I've achieved but a few times, I decided it was time to rejoin the real world by going to the movies—-to sit in a darkened theater--by myself.

So, I arrived at my
favorite East Village cinema to find only one movie of interest playing: Chilean writer-director Sebastian Silva's “The Maid” (“La Nana”) about a crazy housekeeper/nanny who's dead set on keeping her position of twenty years in a Chilean upperclass household.

Raquel, played by
Chilean actress Catalina Saveedra, is bug-eyed, has atrociously frizzy hair and about as much social grace as a goat. She also has a curious hatred for the eldest girl of the household; a creepy infatuation with the young sons; and a "Single-White-Female" streak during scenes where she tries on the lady of the house's clothes and later buys them.

Raquel begins having health problems, so it's suggested that the family hire additional help. This leads to
some evil jealousy, yet pretty hilarious exercises by Raquel to eliminate the new maids by driving them away screaming, humiliated, and scraped up.

That is, until the younger, sweeter Lucy turns up as the new help and is more unwilling to be battered around by the bullish Raquel.

movie takes some quite curious detours, and you're often left wondering what tone Silva was going for. It was often very funny, but there were many moments I found myself cringing and tense, worried that Raquel had really lost it and that just-around-the-corner we were going to find one of the new maids with her head lopped off. I thought for sure she might try to grind up the cat and serve it for dinner a few times.

And, there were certainly some
loose ends as to the matriarch's motivation for keeping the crazy maid on for so long—as if there was some bond, or back-story, between them that we're missing. But, all in all, it was a pretty great film, if uncomfortable, confusing in tone, and meandering. Catalina Saavedra as the maid was fantastic.

PS: The movie starts out with Raquel, the maid, not wanting to be celebrated on her birthday; those who know Grice's adamant ways about Birthday Week know this was as unsettling as the movie, itself.

"The Maid" trailer:

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Brothers," The Clink, Afghanistan

For a couple months now, I've been subjected to the tremendously melodramatic trailer for "Brothers." When I was home in Texas, trying to enjoy an art-house film at the Angelika, so I could keep my nose up in the air when strangers passed me -- of course -- I'd be sent some unwanted goosebumps while previews ran.

Jake Gyllenhaal, with those man-whiskers.

Tobey Maguire, his hair shorn and about 40 lbs. lighter than anyone should ever care to see him at.

Natalie Portman, looking more like a lady than she has in the past -- this time, caught in the cross-hairs of two brothers that both love her; one's a vet, who's meant to be dead (Maguire), the other's a ruffian who's recently been let out of the clink and who's surprisingly fatherly (Gyllenhaal).

The film's a remake of a Danish movie called "Brodre." Tobey's a soldier who gets sent off to Afghanistan, leaving his three ladies back home (two daughters, and Ms. Portman). Everyone thinks he's dead early on, while Gyllenhaal gets released from prison, starts to take care of the family -- then, bam, Tobey's back home again.

It's a good movie; sure, it's insanely melodramatic at times (Tobey's made to take a crobar around his newly-done kitchen ... and he's got to say the F-word a couple times when accusing his wife of sleeping with his brother -- when he's thought to have been dead.), but it was enjoyable.

I was a little shocked that they got all three of these Young Hollywooders to play their parts, given the material and the cliched subject. But, it all worked out well enough.

It didn't help that I'd had my heart broken a couple hours earlier in "Up in the Air," but I didn't let too many tears leak out.

2 1/2 stars.

Food Inc., Put Me Out of My Misery: "It's a Notional Idea of a Tomato"

So, I saw Super Size Me; good old Morgan Spurlock telling us the evil ways of quarter-pounders. He nearly gave himself kidney failure for that film, all for the sake of documenting the bad ways of McDonald's and its sort.

I probably patted myself on the back as I waltzed out of the theater with a tub of half-eaten popcorn in my paws, saturated with movie-theater butter, no doubt.

But, Food, Inc. -- that really took the cake.

I eat roughly a dozen eggs a week; that's a very meager estimate. I toss in some tofu from time to time, just to make myself feel I'm doing myself some protein service. I don't think about the chickens; I certainly don't think about how my little eggs are procured.

I had to turn that movie off: exploitation of Mexican workers (my people!), inhumane treatment of dirty animals (my people!), and all for making corporate brass richer (my future husband(s)!)

I didn't like it one bit. See below my angst:

Margaret Sandwich: sure thing.

and hey, learning things is painful

me: this is a bunch of hippie b.s.

Margaret Sandwich: good rebuttal

me: incorporate my food, just don't let me know about it. Don't Let Me Know.

Margaret Sandwich: or, just get normal food

me: good night, hippie

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movies of the Year, Guess I'll Go Ahead and Do It

I don't like following in the footsteps of David Denby. I get it; we're both blowhards who tend to think our opinion means something. That said, what follows are some notable flicks that I likely saw while twiddling my thumbs and making sure that 10 fingers still exist. That is, there weren't a boatload of speakable movies this year (There was no "No Country for Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood") -- sad to say.

We end the decade on mediocrity.

Chin up, move forward --I'm refusing to look at DD's list, which is going to make this blindly hard:

The Informant!

No, this was nothing to write home about (Hola, Mama and Brother G!), but it was certainly a compelling film -- and one that deserves to be spoken of, given its sweet choice in movie ditties and voice-overs. Matt Damon had to pack on some pounds to play a Midwesterner; his efforts were duly noted, and appreciated, by this old Grice.

District 9

I said it once, and I'll say it again: this was a fantastic film. It looked silly in previews, a bunch of 28-Days-Later-esque zombies coming to sink their teeth into you; but D9 wasn't about that at all. It was/is a film about a manufactured problem involving racism amongst us humans, and second-class citizens, nicely named the "Prawns."


I don't really know what to say. I saw it twice in theaters; I have it queued to be sent to me ASAP. I've always loved Woody Harrelson -- Bill Murray was just an amazing treat, unexpected. This movie had laughs in all the right places -- Brother G and I just kept looking over at one another to make sure we'd gotten every reference --and, despite its name, it should become a comic classic.

500 Days of Summer

OK, let me go get my barf bag -- but, before I do so, I should admit that I fell in love with this movie quite readily. Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... his aspirations toward love are vulnerable-making, even in just watching the film -- I think it cracked the old Grice impenetrable spine. I'll still die (willingly) sad and alone, but JGL made me remember that some people consider that failure.

Julie and Julia

I loved this horrid movie! Meryl Streep, steeped in a cast that boasts Stanley Tucci and Amy Adams (of "Catch Me If You Can," "Enchanted," etc.), plays Julia Child, while Adams is JulIE --a notable difference. And we get to watch a young blogger (why, hello?) play to Julia Child's cookbook, making herself and her young husband's dishes every night.

3 stars.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Slice:, Heavenly-Dire Clips, Time-Suck

Last week, the movie gods unveiled a sweet online paradise when went live. I was straight off the heels of remembering my first (and, hopefully, last) layoff from a corporate behemoth, The Blerg, and I was looking for fictitious commiseration. This website provides cinephiles like myself with most anything they need.

You can hover over the tiny icons that promise a minute or two of your favorite movie scenes; it suggests a bunch beneath your search results to entertain yourself while your specific movie-choice loads.

While we close PopSci for February, I've been checking out some favorite scenes of telling the "Haters. Gonna Hate." (see above animation) of the corporate world to go shove off.

See below iterations of a couple fun movies from the past decades, where the characters tell their bosses and/or stories of their disillusionment--and their desire to QUIT.

Lordy, me, the resolution and nice capsulized versions of these bits gives me goosebumps. Please check out the Movieclips site, yourself.

"Half Baked"

Steve Martin, in "Parenthood": ("I have been KILLING myself, aren't you Dazzled?")"a3378e13c236db439401a8e6020aa428fe203335","url":"","autoHide": "always","hideDelay": "2000","clipMode": false},"rtmp": {"url":"","netConnectionUrl":"rtmp://" }}}">

A seven-figure settlement in "Office Space." This is from YouTube, since the MC site is giving me errors (it could be my fiddling with the html so it won't Autoplay), but ... I can't watch/relate this scene enough. It's brilliant. I work hard and very, very well at PopSci; at The Blerg, I was Peter:

And, finally, a new tawdry favorite, "Wanted" scene:

Up in the Air, Double Feature, Rare Loneliness

Hide all
Well, tonight turned out to be an impromptu double feature.

After a late day at work (Pop Sci's February issue is closing this week, so it's all push, push, push), I decided to go see “Up in the Air,” the new George Clooney movie about a man whose sole purpose in life is to ruin everyone else's. His job is to travel from corporation to corporation to rid them of pathetic souls. The first minutes of the film feature a series of poor dopes getting the ax (shot from Clooney's point of view), and I must admit I found it a little unnerving—it brought me back to the morning when I was the poor dope, and the Blerg was letting me go.

No matter how much I hated that job—and, oh, how I hated that job—the indignity felt from being told to leave instead of leaving on my own volition ... well, I suddenly remembered the rush of tears and expletives that fell from my face and spilled from my mouth.

I imagine that millions of Americans will feel a similar sting once they see this film (if they can afford it—zing.)

Clooney's character is Ryan Bingham, a wry, cynical (if devilishly handsome) man who prides himself on being able to live out of a figurative backpack (or carry-on). Possessions are baggage, weighing one down (“Moving is living.”); personal relationships are burdensome anchors, to be avoided at all costs. (I'd heard from a colleague that Clooney plays a pretty despicable, unlikeable character, but, in truth, I rather liked him, and one day aspire to be him! I digress.)

Bingham considers the sky his home, airports a refuge, and his permanent residence in Omaha, NE, a veritable hell. He averages 300,000 miles of air travel a year and loves the elite status it affords him at hotels, car rental places, airports, etc. And while he doesn't delight in ruining people's lives—he's not evil—he seems to think that on the whole people are better to be cut loose from their shit jobs to pursue some latent passion; and, a job's a job, and his affords him the ability to be accountable to no one (Sweet.).

Of course, old Bingham's every-man-is-an-island world gets rocked by two ladies. First, he meets Alex (the beautiful Vera Farmiga) in a hotel bar; she's his female equivalent, and they start a steamy little romance that they manage to find time for by arranging meetups in airports across the country. Second, there's the young Cornell grad who's begun to work for Bingham's company. The little go-getter (Anna Kendrick) has hatched a plan to save the company millions of dollars by conducting layoffs remotely via the Interwebs.

This would obviously ruin Bingham's ideal existence. He'd be grounded.

Bingham's boss (Jason Bateman) decides it'd be a good idea for the new kid to join Clooney on the road. He and Alex carry on.


I really liked this movie. While there were some predictable elements, all does not end hunky-dorily for everyone; it feels realer, and sadder, in a somewhat refreshing way. I loved Farmiga and Clooney, and this Kendrick kid was quite good as a neurotic square.

By the end, I was feeling super lonely and sad, imagining my ultimate fate of dying sad and alone—something that usually doesn't trouble me as I think of how I'll be able to watch 18 hours of movies a day in peace when I'm old, without fear of social reprobation.

As I was walking out of the theater, I glanced over my shoulder just to see what some of these happy couples surrounding me were going to see … and I saw that “Brothers” was playing in 10 minutes.

So, I somehow decided it'd be a good idea to tend to my uncharacteristically-aching heart by going to watch a movie about the tumult and suffering war bestows on families.


More on that later or tomorrow. Needless to say, I feel like someone just broke my heart, then water-boarded me. Must fall asleep to something uplifting before I toss myself out of my fourth floor window.

"Brothers" trailer:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Broken Embraces," Almodovar-ian Thoughts

Walking out of “Broken Embraces” (Los Abrazos Rotos) last week, I was
rambling, per usual, about the movie’s merits and demerits compared to director Pedro Almodovar's
the other films. As we strolled down
Houston St. from Sunshine Cinema, I asked my old friend what he’d
thought of the movie, relinquishing my death-grip on the conversation.
He sort of shrugged his shoulders, cocked his head, and said: “Eh, his
films all run together to me.”

While my heart palpitated a bit, thinking of the intricacies of each
and every one of Almodovar's films
, how he's a filmmaker's Film Man –
a film student who's never grown up – I took a deep breath and said,
“Yeah, I can see that.” Sure, I could tell you the ins and outs of
“Talk to Her,” “All About My Mother,” and, lately, “Volver” – but
there's an elemental sameness to all Almodovar films that make them
unwittingly Almodovar without need for credit recognition. Every
character has a twisted, twisted back-story – and they all tie
themselves seamlessly together in a beautifully-shot sequence of
events, somewhere down the line.

That said, there've been some Almodovar stand-out scenes that
couldn't erase themselves from my memory, were they to be Magic
Ink-erasable. I'll never forget the images and themes from “The Bad
Education” (La Mala Educacion),
with one of my old loves, Gael Garcia
– he plays a fledgling actor-cum-transvestite-cum-deceptionist.
Those images and sequences are so engrained in my warbled movie memory
that I'll never lose them – and I'll never forget making many a soul
watch that film.

So, back to “Embraces.” Penelope Cruz plays the gorgeous protagonist lady;
she's the star in Almodovar's immediate film that we're watching, as well as his film
within-the-film – he shoots a comedy within an atypical drama. We
learn early on that her father's sick, she's an assistant at a huge
corporation—which is run by an ineptly ruthless CEO-type (aren't they
all?)—and she's got to make the all-too-rough (not) decision whether
to sell her beautiful self to the sexually voracious old man, or let
her Pops die in the hands of an unsympathetic hospital.
Enter the dreamy man protagonist (who's been involved in the story as
a narrative from minute 1)
, an oft-used Almodovar standby, Lluis Homar
(of “La Mala Educacion”) – a dreamy director who's fallen for Cruz's
beguiling looks and clutchable soul.
Well, no point in going on with the narrative arc.

It's a great story, fantastic role-playing on both sides (Cruz and
Homar's), yet only a good movie.
It's a great effort, and it's so, SO Almodovar; it's just not told
in the same deft, clever way that he usually spins his tales,
unraveling them layer by layer till we're left with just the most
brute forms of humans—which he's so good at. This feels like he
started in the middle of opening a can of worms, got nervous and made
sure he closed the can back up.

It's good, but not great.

Still worth a see.

Broken Embraces trailer:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Editing Papa Grice, Movie Marathon Needed in 6 Hours, "The Natural"

Papa Grice, a man not too often featured here on this old Bloggle, recently sent me a piece he's submitting to some Southern magazines; he asked me to edit it.

The charming daughter that I am (ha, ahem... ahem), I opened the .doc file and went to work; we have had our differences, many -- plenty -- but, he's still my Pops.

I'm not one to turn something like that down.

Well, my Dear Old Dad sent me something great. It was a great editorial piece - something that I'd have kissed the sweet e-mail gods for sending me a few years back, had it been submitted by an old Crimson writer.

It involves a memory he has from when he was 16 - he was at a family get-together in Louisiana, and part of his family shuns another part. He was put in-between everyone, and made to take sides.

I've thought of old Papa G as a rationalist, much like myself, forever. And, I realized that he is kind of -- deep down -- sort of a silly irrationalist. At least, that's what's conveyed in his writing.

I don't think he reads this Bloggle, but I wish he did sometimes. My writings so clearly come from his influence.

The above YouTube is something he'd love -- a movie he made me watch a bazillion times, and I was all the better for it. "The Natural."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Second Chapter of Morgan Chronicles, Etc.

Here's a bit more on the Morgan Chronicles -- Chapter Two can be read here. What can I say? Nothing - nothing that'll not make her hate me later in life. I don't think she will ... I try to be mindful of her, thoughtful in not making her an antagonist.

She's a brilliant little girl -- I hope the documenting of her life - a very vulnerable-making thing - is received well when she's older. I have many years to wait.

Movie List! (The Start), Informant, Inglourious, September, Bright Star ... Etc.

I've finally got the energy to post the Movie List. I've finished four chapters of The Morgan Stories, I've beaten down the swine flu (or, its relative), and the Band of Horses song ("The Funeral") has been removed from my YouTube playlist. It had to be done if I was going to stop staring at the wall and letting myself get adrift in my head. God, that song has awful effects.

"The Informant!"

I saw this one twice -- once with a friend in Houston, once with Mama G at the good old Dollar Cinema. I really liked this movie. I loved the whimsical music and his (Matt Damon's) narration mostly involving the production of corn syrup in the Midwest. It had a feel of "Stranger than Fiction," mixed with "The Hoax" and "Catch Me if You Can." Not a lot of folks saw "The Hoax" (Richard Gere, Alfred Molina), but I'd dare say they should've. One of the FBI Special Agents in the movie is Joel McHale, who's now one of the leads in "Community," a show I could take or leave -- but he's rather dreamy, and has an impressive range.

"Inglourious Basterds"

I had to see this one twice, too, as I'd fallen asleep during the first viewing. I'm an unabashed, cliched Tarantino-lover, so I was likely going to like it no matter what. But, I really did enjoy it on many levels. Its fabrication of this faux-group of Nazi killers was good in its concoction of characters that would have believable motive to go and skin the skulls of some Nazis ... it was steeped, of course, in Tarantino's bizarro world of comically extreme characters, but -- it was great. Femme Fatale-ish, revenge-strewn, etc. I wouldn't hope it wins many Oscars (a little too long, a little too Tarantino-living-out-his-comic-book-dreams), but I'll watch it plenty, plenty of times.

"The September Issue"

Lordy me, I haven't thought about my viewing of this at the River Oaks theater in Houston in quite a while -- it's a hoity-toity place that I only visited because of circumstance. It's a documentary on Anna Wintour, the lady that makes Vogue en vogue. It was well done - nothing to write home about (hello, Mama G!), but good nonetheless. It made me reminiscent of my old days in the fashion world - a place I'd never, ever go back to, but reminiscent nonetheless.

"Bright Star"

I briefly mentioned this movie before, but it deserves a second mention. This was a fantastic film -- about John Keats and his magical love for Fanny Brawne ... I might've cried a little in this one. It's beautifully shot, the story is great - and makes you a hopeless romantic for a while, until you slap some sense into yourself. I really loved this movie ... and I was on such a movie kick that day that I drove (DROVE!) over to another theater to see ...

"The Boys Are Back"

Clive Owen, that be-whiskered face, those eyes, stars in this one. No one saw it, save for me and some old ladies, I suppose. It's based on a true story -- he's a journalist, married to a lovely, lovely lady. Right early on in the movie, she keels over and dies -- after sharing some nice, slight glances at each other at a dinner party. Boom, she's gone. He has to assume responsibility of his family, and is bequeathed another young soul to look after as well. My good gods, that movie made me feel like "The Constant Gardener" was child's play, in terms of jerking my feelings around. I like to think I have none! And, these movies ... they make me pinch myself.

I can't write about the rest just yet. There are too many -- I should've been more judicious in my time.

Little Morgan, Movies, First Chapter

I've spent the good part of my last week talking to Little Morgan all day on G-chat. She's 10 years old, and I'm able to relate to her on a remarkable level; she's at an age where she's no longer as malleable as aluminum foil, but still lovably naive and sweet. And very, very smart.

That I can relate so well to a 10 year old is ... well, telling.

Over the summer, I was her effective caregiver during daytime hours -- Mama G and Brother G were at work all day, while I was "working" at home on the computer. When Morgan The Little would get bored of ABC Family or building her dream doll house, she'd quietly come peek around the corner from the hallway to see what I was up to. I'd always pretend that I didn't see her nosy eyes, but then I'd get up from my chair, saunter over, slowly, to my purse and fetch out the keys. I'd jingle them a bit and say, "Let's go, kid."

If I were feeling rich that day, we'd go to the regular theaters; more often, I'd take her to the second-run Dollar Cinema (now $1.50, those jerks). We did this nearly every single day for three months.

I miss her.

I've been working on a "book" about her -- the first chapter can be read here, for anyone interested.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Precious, Popular Science, Happy Thanksgiving

I strode on over to the Loews in Kips Bay today, pivoting my penny-loafers (I placed the pennies there myself) eastwards from the steps of my new office at Popular Science. I was en route to see "Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire."

I'd already heard things about the movie, sure, but I hadn't really read much on it. My old best lady friend from home, who's now a social worker in Houston, had told me how she and her co-workers had made a field trip out of the movie; on a planned group-outing, they'd opted to see this movie instead of growing merry at some Happy Hour -- and given her affinity for making me and others watch educational videos on the importance of psych therapy this summer (something I tend to find as rationally-acceptable as voo-doo dolls), I knew what I was getting into, sort of.

I walked into the theater a few minutes before showtime, and it was empty. I had my popcorn and Diet Coke in hand (go hard, or go home), and seated myself. In the next ten minutes before the movie began, only three bespectacled old women -- alone -- sauntered in and took seat before the big screen.

It's the day before Thanksgiving, I'm in a theater with three little old ladies who gave me quiet smiles as they passed me, about to see the most depressing (questionable) movie in a good long while. I was comforted by what my future holds.

The movie stars newcomer Gaburey 'Gabby' Sidibe (who's roughly my age, yet plays a 16-year-old) as a horribly neglected, abused, yet innately bright youth, Precious. At the film's start, we find she's about to have her second child -- by her own father. Her mother (played by Mo'Nique) routinely throws pans or glass projectiles at Precious's head or generally demeans her to an inhumanely degree (Mama G, take note!) She, Precious, is tremendously overweight, has hallucinations about being a lithe, light-skinned woman, and is just generally one of the most tragic figures of film in (my) recent memory.

Stylistically, I'm not sure if I loved the choppiness, the intermingling of flashbacks with blurred-in fascinations of what-could-be -- but, overall, it was a great tale to tell. I shed some tears into my popcorn, perhaps.

However, given my transient nature of late: Texas, NY, back to Texas, back to NY, new job, etc., I've been shedding tears like never before when I'm accompanied by my screens, silver or small.

When I was sick lately, I watched 34 episodes of Friday Night Lights; there wasn't one where I didn't have to sit up (weakly) and utter: "Grice, do not cry, you big baby. Do not."

I'm going to post my list of ... Lord, 20+ movies that I've seen lately, tomorrow. I'll just do stars-value. These old fingers can't type out all the thoughts!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jesse Eisenberg (Michael Cera?) Wants to Murder Me! Today's a Good Day ...

I saw eight movies in the theater this past week -- outside of the theater, it's too embarrassing to advertise [17-ish]. So, I'd been working on a bloggle post that would run through the list of films, highlighting the best and worst. (Summer has ended! I can return to the cinema [daily ... or twice, daily -- I slapped my wrist for admitting that] without my head hung in shame for filmmakers).

When what do my wandering eyes behold in my Inbox this morning?

An e-mail from a Crimson alum list group member ...

"Subject: [133-l] Jesse Eisenberg and his vendetta against Morgan Grice"

The body of the e-mail read, which went out to a whole slew of old classmates, friends and acquaintances -- and I'm sure more than a few frenemies:

"I think he's [Eisenberg] referring to this (
Even if this is a bit of some kind that Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg do,
it's hilarious.


AVC: Jesse, you’ve been on a lot of lists of up-and-coming young stars to
watch, that sort of thing. What has your experience been, having recently been
thrust into the limelight?

JE: Well, you’re not supposed to read what they write about you,
because it’s just debilitating.
And people have written mean things
that I’ve read, and they make you feel terrible about yourself and feel like:
How could I go be a creative person when people think it’sbad? [:-/]

WH [Woody Harrelson]: Let go of that Harvard Crimson

JE: Fucking Crimson. A few years ago, somebody wrote
something bad inthe Harvard Crimson
; then we were in Boston yesterday,
and I thought the girl who was coming to interview us was the girl, and she
never showed up. Smart move. But I have everybody’s name on my bathroom wall, on my stall shower actually, and I just read their names as I soap up
and plan on murdering them.

WH: That’s his way of saying you better write some nice stuff.

So, Jesse Eisenberg thinks about murdering me in the shower?!! ME?!?!? Little, old me.

It was the neatest thing I'd read in some time, though I'm not dumb enough to think it wasn't some PR person feeding his lines. Still.

I should mention that I adored "Zombieland," and that any of the predictions I made in that blasted Crimson article were false. I wish he'd murder me for the quality of the article, rather than the opinion. Because, excuse my candor, "Cursed" sucked.

And who knew Eisenberg was going to be someone people can't differentiate from Michael Cera?!!! Sigh.

More on those other movies from this week later. One hour til my next movie...

I will say that I did love, uncharacteristically, "Bright Star." I don't love romantic movies, and I suuuuure don't love romantic, sad movies about POETS (Keats) ... but I loved this one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dallas Cowboys, District 9, Robin Williams -- Nothing in Common

Like a little angel, my Favorite Food Critic, and former-colleague (and one of the few fine folks I miss from Up North), sent me a note sometime last week to the effect of:

"Lady Grice, big news: your old employer ["The Blerg"] has sprung for a big trip down your way for my column. Any interest in going to the opening Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday? See the new stadium?"

"I'm sorry, I just read that aloud to my brother," I began in response, "I believe he must've swallowed some mosquitoes just now -- he hasn't picked up his jaw from the floor. Are you serious?"

"Tell Brother Grice he's welcome to come, too."

So, Brother and Sister Grice took another trip, flying past little tiny Texas towns until we came upon that snobby city 4 1/2 hours to our north. Dallas.

Food Critic had to be driven to an anonymous-looking building to get the tickets; we drank cocktails from glass cowboy boots. It was an unforgettable trip.

(Thank you, again.)

I won't lie and say I'm the hugest football fan; every Friday night growing up was spent at my high school stadium, but the moment I'd sit down, I'd swing my feet around the bleachers in an about-face to talk to my buds -- always ignoring the game in full.

But even I knew how big a deal this whole Dallas event was, and how Bro G would appreciate the weekend. So, we went, we ate, we saw, we cheered, we swam, we toured, we ate...and ate, and ate.

And then we saw those old Cowboys let the Giants shame them.

Dawson wouldn't have wanted Tony Romo's life this weekend, I'm sure.

A whole month (to the day) since the last post. I don't even remember how to write on this old bloggle.

Leeeeettt's see. I was bogged down with a bunch of editing (I know so much about Texas teaching standards these days ... fun stuff, she says, lying through her teeth.), but I've managed to keep up the movie watching.

"District 9" -- I was so late in the game on that one. Mama Grice saw it and told me that she didn't care for it because the aliens were "ugly"; for some reason that deterred my better judgment for some time, delaying my viewing for well too long.

I really, really enjoyed that film. It felt a lot like the "28 Days Later"/"28 Months Later" movies, which I liked perhaps too much. It had the same sort of realistic-feeling special effects, not ruined by slap-you-in-the-face CGI bologna that's wrecked so many could-be/would-be good movies. The social allegories were also welcome, and a fun twist on traditional sci-fi fare.

And I really adored the South African government agent Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), who hopefully has more up his sleeve.

Importantly, for the past several weeks, that movie has inspired me to speak in clicks and twitches (a la the alien "Prawns") -- something that might've been frowned upon before this film's arrival.

My Friend and I were at a movie loss recently and decided to head to the Houston Angelika to see a more indie-trendy film and stumbled upon Robin Williams' recent "World's Greatest Dad" ... hmmm.

Williams plays Lance Clayton (great name for this role), a somewhat depressing yokel of a man who's a creative writing teacher -- who's never published a thing. He's the single dad of a jerk teenager whose ... "extra curricular activities" are rather unsavory; his teacher-girlfriend toys with his heart. Etc. When a tragic (ahem) event takes his son's life, Lance is suddenly thrust into the public eye -- which leads to some counter-intuitive outcomes.

It's good, but not great. It feels as though writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait needed just a few more months of tweaking to make it a little funnier, poignant, dark ... something. And, perhaps a few more months to find a better actor to play the son's character (Daryl Sabara).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Towed Cars, Cousins -- "Inglourious Basterds"

"Hey, it's family," he said, as he slid over to My Friend the piece of paper that showed he'd knocked off 40 bucks from the car-towing fare.

Nothing like a big, hulking man -- in the middle of Nowheresville, Houston -- telling your Bud that he was once married to your cousin, through some bulletproof glass, no less.

The humiliation only topped off the saddest Movie Night ever.

It'd been planned in advance: "Inglourious Basterds," Friday night, 9:30 pm. My Friend, his brother, another, and I were meeting with already-purchased tickets to go see the film; I'd been awaiting this day for months. For the past few weeks, I've been marching around like a little idiot mimicking Brad Pitt's "We gonna be doin' one thing, one thing only: Killin' Nat-zi's." I couldn't've wiped the grin off my face all week if I'd tried.

Well, turned out that one of the friendos got mixed up and didn't buy his ticket in advance; they were sold out. Didn't seem to make no never mind -- we could see the 10:30 showing, after all. We exchanged tickets, played some Big Buck Hunter at the theater arcade ... but, I knew.

I knew that after having eaten at the restaurant next door, where Friend and his Brother left their cars (allusion to the "car-towing" start of this), on top of my predilection for falling asleep in ANY movie after roundabouts 8pm, I was in trouble.

For all my talk and anticipation for this movie, would I make it?

Short answer, "no."

Halfway through, I felt the magnetic forces of the eyelids; had I toothpicks, I'd have shoved them in there without regard for permanent damage to the old eyeballs.

I'm doing a double feature tomorrow ... after Friend's glare jolted me awake (I hadn't even realized I'd fallen asleep), I made it through most of the movie, but I feel I missed some good plot points worthy of revisitation -- and, Lord knows I'll watch "Inglourious" 200 more times in the next couple years, just 'cause it's Tarantino.

One great takeaway from the first half hour, though, reminded me why I can't hate myself for being a cliched Tarantino-lover.

It's his ability to write-in conversational bits into the most intense situations; just like the Coen Bros., he reuses his formula, so that the written patterns are undeniably recognizable in all his films ... they're inimitable without feeling too worn or overdone.

Fooooooor instance, during the "Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals." end scene in Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," he has Jules and Vince discuss (after having experienced "Divine Intervention" via dodging bullets as they fulfilled their hitman duties) why we attribute dirtiness to pigs and not, say, dogs, while by logical standards the two species aren't exactly cleanly. In "Inglourious," Tarantino starts it off with the awesome, awesome Christoph Waltz delineating the difference between rats and squirrels ... one animal is seen as a disease-carrying, awful nuissance of a creature, the other's a harmless tree-dweller.

I just like his style, s'ppose. Tomorrow, I'll get a fuller feel. I got 2 hours annnnd maybe 12 minutes of Inglourious on Friday (out of the 2 hrs and 33 minutes) ... tomorrow'll be better.

When we all toddled out of the theater that night, me half-asleep and the others beat as well, the cars were gone; next morning, we made our way to where they housed the errant vehicles ... and that's where I was met with a double-take, a stare and a "Are you Morgan? I'm your cousin." He's been running the tow-truck place for ten years he said.

Ahhh, ahhh.

Sometimes there's nothing to be said for full-on humility.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Corrupting Little Morgan's Belief in Love; "500 Days of Summer"

"I didn't really understand it," she said, staring up curiously at my somewhat somber face.

I looked down at Little Morgan and shook my head slowly; with a melodramatic sigh, I said: "I hope you never have to."

We were walking out of "500 Days of Summer," a film about the rocky relationship of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), two Los Angelans who work together at a greeting cards company. My response to Little Morgan was referring to my hope that she never has to understand the ups-and-downs, confusions, woes, heartaches, bitterness, abandonments, etc. that accompany relationships.

Of course, Little Rat was referring to the non-linear timeline of the film, which follows 500 days of Tom and Summer's relationship, certainly not my cliched and embarrassing projections that came out in the form of a slow head shake and a short-lived clutch of her shoulders.

The film jumps around from day 1, to day 26, to day 149, back to day 4, for example, so each scene is preceded by a number in parenthesis to indicate the day and guide you as to the state of the relationship. Hence her confusion.

Tom is a hopeless, hopeless romantic who falls madly in love with Summer upon first sight ([Day]1); Summer is a colder sort, one given to casual liaisons and defensive diatribes on the falsity of love. ([Day] 1, 2, 7, 147, 208, 49). Tom quickly wins her over, during a company karaoke night; her knees buckle, but her heart doesn't. All that jazz. She's a jerk, but he's stuck in love with a girl who doesn't want him.

I got teary-eyed, again. I think it's something in this Texas water ... Little Morgan kept looking over at me, and while I usually send back a Death Stare to tell her not to bother me with her little questions about whatever film's plot, this time I just gave her a sad face and took her hand. Combined with Julie & Julia, that kid's gotten more Big Morgan love than she's probably seen in the last few years put together (give or take).


Overall, I thought the film does a fine job of depicting the nuances of a relationship. When you relate to the boy, Tom, you're overcome with all the feelings you've had when you've been with someone who took you for granted; who didn't give their all to you; who didn't ask you seemingly-little things ... like how your day was.

When you side with Summer, you feel she's right for being selfish; her casual flightiness is suddenly acceptable because you remember the times when you yourself were a jerk to someone because maybe you didn't think they were worth your time. Scruples were lost on you at that time, and you rationalized your not-so-kind behavior.

When I explained this to Heathen Child, The Rat didn't seem to understand why the higher in number the days went, that didn't necessarily correlate to a higher level of happiness.

I had to resist the urge to say, "All in good time, Child, all in good time." Instead, I took her to Wendy's for a Frosty, though I miiiiight've said she ought to break up with her little boyfriend Dustin:

"Hey, it's your last year in elementary school -- you really want someone tying you down?" I intoned.

What's wrong with me?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Little Morgan's Evil Games; Julie & Julia

For everything you can call Little Morgan -- Heathen Child, Little Rat, Big Chunk, Snaggle[tooth], Clone, Number 2 ... and, I'm wont to call any of these things -- you can't call her Dumb. She long ago mastered the art of getting her way in an increasingly creative array of approaches.

In the mornings, when I'm asleep in my room, on my bed (read: in the living room, on the couch) after having taken Mama G to the metro around 5:30am or 6am (woe, woe), if she happens to awake before noon, she begins her tricks.

Normally, if the phone rings throughout the day, she has the habit of turning the phone on, then off if it's someone she doesn't recognize (I can't fault her there, it's one of her redeeming qualities); however, when I'm snoozing, suddenly she's interested in whomever is calling and races to the phone. I hear her big Flinstone Feet running across the tile, though I don't open my eyes so I can assure myself that she's the Devil Incarnate.

"Hello??? WHAT?? Hello??" she bellows, her country-accented voice, grating to any human's ears, carrying its way to my couch.

"Who?!? Ummmmm..." she draws out, as she starts stomping around the living room. "Ummmm, let me see if they're home." She knows that no one's home (I don't count, because I, well, because I adhere to the phone on/off approach), but nevertheless she plods over to me.

"Aunt Morgan?" she whispers in a pseudo-sweet voice. Tap, tap. "AUNT MORGAN??!? DO YOU WANT TO TALK TO [insert anything]???"

I snap my eyeballs open wide and glare at her, not moving my neck -- which has been undoubtedly propped up in some crick-inducing way, while she's been sleeping soundly in my old room all night -- as I mouth, "No."

After that, the games begin.

Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, working on a story (an ongoing one that involves her), when I see out of the corner of my eye her peek out from the hallway. She must've been honing her approach. I didn't acknowledge her and kept typing.

"Aunt Morgan?"


"Well, umm, I was wondering..." she began quietly, sweetly.

Oh, here we go, I thought.


"Well, if you're not too busy..."

A likely jab, I thought, she's commenting on how I'm not at work.


"Could we maybe do something?"


"Maybe," I said with a gravely doubtful intonation, "I really want to get some work done on this."

I could feel the pouting, but I was going to be adamant today. Right.

Oh, I'd say ten minutes later, after some careful conniving in her (my) room, she came out in her rollerblades, putting her grubby paws all over the walls as she tried to steady herself and slide her way across the tile.

"What are you DOING!?" I blared, "You know you can't rollerblade in the house. Jesus, you Big Rat, take 'em off."

Attempt 1 averted. I didn't last much longer, after she pulled out the big guns.

A bit later, I heard her again stomping out of her (my) room, and I could hear some heaving and things dropping in the hallway. She entered with a huge mound of clothes, her new school clothes, replete with all the new underwear that Mama G recently bought her (no shame, this kid).

"What are you doing?"

"I just wanted to show you my new clothes."

"They look nice. Lots more than I ever got, that's for sure." (Can't help throwing those in any chance I get.)

"I wanted to do a fashion show for you," she said, smiling as if she didn't know she'd just won.

"I'll check the movie times."

So, we saw "Julie & Julia."

I must say, that in all the headache and frustration this Horrid Doppelganger causes me, yesterday she brought me much unintended joy. I neeeeeever would've seen that movie, but it was the only one we both hadn't seen or that I absolutely wouldn't go see ("Aliens in the Attic," "G-Force," "The Ugly Truth," etc.)

I thought it looked awful, something like "Mamma Mia" (which I admittedly never saw, but -- whoof). It's the story about Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) and her rise to success, alongside a contemporary story of a New York City girl named Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who hates her job and begins blogging in an attempt to assuage at least a part of her drive to be a writer. (I think my teary-eyedness began there, and didn't stop throughout ... though I'll never admit it.)

The film does a great job depicting the parallels in the two womens' lives. After portraying yet another setback to Child's attempts to get her masterpiece cookbook published as she and her ambassador husband move all over Europe as Joseph McCarthy and Co. were conducting their witchhunts here in the U.S., we jump back to present-day Powell struggling with her horrible work life while trying to achieve her goal of cooking everything in Child's book in one year (and blogging about it). And each time one of the women has a meltdown or becomes a raging mess, we see a scene where their doting, adoring husbands (Stanley Tucci as Paul Child, Chris Messina as Eric Powell) save the day and stick by their sides, which would normally make my stomach turn.

But, it was probably after one of these parallel scenes when I began making Little Morgan hold my hand like a big baby.

I really just loved the movie; it had its faults, but Streep was so great as Julia Child -- and the ever-adorable Amy Adams was characteristically cute, even as she treated her husband like dirt.

I'm sure lots of people won't see it, but I hope they do.

And, after all that emotional boohooing, I suddenly thought the Rat Child wasn't so bad after all and took her to get ice cream; but I made sure it was just a cheap McDonald's cone -- got to keep her honest.

Today, I believe we'll see "500 Days of Summer."

Julie & Julia trailer: