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"moonlight" on the water

2.23.17 Film Noir

The 89th Academy Awards show airs this Sunday. My husband tried to ban more than half an hour of the red carpet (he says it sours him on the whole thing), but I can assure you I will be parked in front of our enormous television to watch it in all its alarming, cringe-worthy glory. Last year it was fascinating to see how many actresses were determined not to talk about who had designed their dresses—for the first time EVER! And I confess that I'm always interested to see which of them has had surgery. I know, not very sisterly, but I'm only human.


The last couple of years, there has been a growing protest against the under-representation of black people in Hollywood and this year's nominations seem to reflect an attempt to address that. All of the major categories include at least one black nominee, which I gather is unprecedented. It affirms the idea that change is possible, though we all see how vigilant we have to be to protect any progress that is made.


"Moonlight," directed by Barry Jenkins from a screenplay he wrote with Tarell Alvin McCraney, and starring Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, is perhaps one of the most poignant and moving films I have ever seen, brimming with moments of grace. It's also beautifully shot and directed. For more about it, I recommend Tony Scott's review in the New York Times and this insightful interview with Jenkins and McCraney on Fresh Air.

Tagged — film
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unarmed and dangerous

7.27.12 Weekend Update: Hot Links

Breaking Bad is back with a vengeance, and we're still making our way through the original Swedish Wallander, but we also stumbled across Inside Men, a new BBC One series that I submit for your viewing pleasure. It's really quite gripping. It's about a brutal armed robbery that takes place at a secure money counting house, the events that lead up to it and the aftermath. I especially love the performance of Steven Mackintosh as the milquetoast manager who finds his inner bad-ass. I confess that after these grueling days spent sweltering at my desk, in the garden and in the kitchen, I like nothing better than stretching out on my Society linen sheets, popping open a bottled Americano and being amused. No more reading, no more surfing, no more writing, no more cooking—but certainly not mindless entertainment, no chick flicks or idle fluff for me. I like something truly engaging, full of believable characters and smart dialogue. Don't you? Here are some more worthy distractions for you...
Tagged — film
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what's not to love?

2.5.11 Weekend Update

A very quick post to urge you to treat yourself to a viewing of the grossly underrated 2008 movie, The Love Guru, starring the incomparable Mike Meyers as "the second best guru" (after Deepak, of course). I have watched this at least 6 times now and never fail to laugh at Meyers' hilarious Peter-Sellers-worthy performance: his accent, the gleam in his eye, the sheer delight he takes in his performance, the fabulous musical numbers, not to mention all the infantile scatalogical jokes. And Ben Kingsley as the cross-eyed Guru Tugginmapudha is absolutely priceless.
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sir ben, doing what he does best

Tagged — film
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totally bazaar

12.8.10 Sex and the Sh*tty 2

Occasionally—not very often—I go off on a crazy tangent. This is one of those times. Searching for a little mindless entertainment to keep me company as I wrapped countless presents, I decided to download "Sex & the City 2." Some girly fun, I said to myself, thinking back wistfully to a time when Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha were actually a fresh concept. A time before Magnolia Bakery had lines like Studio 54, before SATC tours of the West Village. Friends, do NOT subject yourselves to this movie. It made "Showgirls" seem like a European art film. G told me some people had complained about its depiction of Arab men. WHAT ABOUT ITS DEPICTION OF AMERICAN WOMEN?! There was scarcely a time in the entire movie that I was not either cringing in embarrassment or gagging in dismay. From the second Liza Minelli appeared in thigh-high boots, an abbreviated tunic and a kabuki mask to cover Beyonce's "Put A Ring On It" during the opening gay wedding scene, it was one crypt-keeper moment after another. No amount of Botox, Pilates, makeup or lighting can disguise the fact that these women are trying WAY TOO HARD to be "young." Whatever the f*ck that means. Hey, I'm all for fantasy, etc. This was just painful. SJP looks like a sinewy drag queen half the time, and a homeless lady playing dress-up the rest. (See the ridiculous ball gown and t-shirt ensemble she chose to wear to the souk, above.) Samantha's menopausal moanings and desperate sexual lungings—not to mention her god-awful getups and over-oiled flesh in virtually every scene—are cruel jokes only the snarky gay writers could love. No wonder it's been hard to lure her back for the sequels. They must be paying these "girls" wads of cash. Soon they can just segue into a remake of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
Tagged — film
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dazed and confused or just a douche?

10.28.10 A Night Out

Saw The Social Network last night. I think Fincher's best movie thus far. He really got out of his own way for a change, and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay will probably win the Oscar. It's a great portrait of tortured soul and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose stupefying mix of arrogant brilliance and crippling insecurity reminded me of half the people I encountered at Harvard, especially the genius-geeks whose shameless misogyny stemmed from never being able to get a date. The film is  less about the phenomenon of social networking than it is about the irony that the dude who creates it is a social outsider. Jesse Eisenberg gives a flawless performance, his face a motionless enigma that rarely jerks into a grimace we come to recognize as a smile. Movie night was preceded by yet another trip to Eataly, this time at the sub-prime hour of 4pm. The place was buzzing but  not overcrowded, and G and I slipped right into a couple of seats at the counter of Pesce. An appetizer of razor clams bathed in olive oil, parsley, garlic and hot pepper was delicious, a harbinger of things to come. Both G's whole branzino, infused with lemon and roasted on a thin crust of half-crispy-half-velvety potatoes, and my smoked black cod with a crackling skin and salad of watercress were fresh off the boat and perfectly executed. A quick trip to the gelato stand (chocolate for G, equally smooth and unctuous pear-vanilla sorbetto for me) and we were off to the races. I love a dose of the city on an unseasonably warm fall day.
Tagged — film
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7.31.10 Shock & Awe

photos by anna raugalis
Readers from the early days may recall a post I wrote about my husband, a talented filmmaker and true gentleman. Well, here he is again, this time featured for completing his first narrative short film, Aftershock, which he wrote, produced and directed. (Also a DP, he decided to have someone else shoot it as he kinda had his hands full.) I am so excited for him, and have every confidence it will get into festivals and receive the acclaim it deserves. The film tells the bittersweet story of a man who loses his family in an earthquake in China, and later finds himself struggling as an immigrant in New York City. Read more about it, find out about future screenings, and see some beautiful stills and on-set photos here.
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Tagged — film
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the house site (photos by george billard)

6.23.10 This Land is Your Land

We're seriously considering buying this piece of land that was brought to our attention by a guardian angel up here in Sullivan County. The idea would be to build our dream house on it one day. It's a nice-sized 5-acre lot that starts with a gorgeous meadow and rolls down a hill to a breathtaking reservoir. The best thing is that across the reservoir is all state-owned land that is a protected sanctuary for the bald eagle. We put the canoe in there the other day and it's absolutely stunning. The prospect of being able to live in such a place seems almost too good to be true.So you can imagine how my heart broke when I watched Josh Fox's gripping documentary, Gasland, on HBO the other night. It was a hit at Sundance and I imagine it will get theatrical distribution at some point, but I urge you to see it now; you can watch it on HBO On Demand. Hot, bitter tears rolled down my cheeks during most of the film, which is about fracking—the hydraulic fracturing process that is being used to free up natural gas from within vast shale deposits. Natural gas is being touted as the ideal "transition" fuel that will take us away from fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources. In fact, this extraction method is entirely unregulated, thanks to a loophole created by Dick Cheney, that evil and calculating sonofabitch. He even convinced the Bureau of Land Management, an agency that is supposed to look after 264 million acres of pristine public land—that's OUR land—to allow drilling.
Tagged — film
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photo by george billard (taken with his iphone)

1.19.10 Mo' Momofuku

You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl…especially when she’s stuffing it back in with both hands! No better place than Momofuku Ssam Bar to remember what it’s like to eat somebody else’s cooking. We chowed down on David-Chang-deliciousness and it was yet another flawless dining experience, from cocktails to cookies. You know all about the place already, right? So I don't have to tell you that you'll eat hunched over at the bar on a hard stool, gazing at strange '70s art featuring John McEnroe and rocking out to loud music. It's all part of a funky, stripped-down dining experience that really wakes up your senses. So glad they’ve now got a full bar and mixed drinks on their extensive alcohol menu. I've written before about the truly wonderful “Penicillin;” even posted the recipe for you here. Smoky Scotch + ginger syrup + lemon juice = divinity. It outshined the Wild-Turkey-based “Gold Rush” I had last night, if you ask me. Here’s what we ate:
Tagged — film