Friday, November 10, 2006

Getting Tagged, Treading Water - Completed!

From my conscious mind all the way down to my wee mitochondria, I am struggling to acclimate to the accelerated pace of the academic quarter system. The voice I hear in my head is Judy Davis' from Husbands and Wives: "Metabolically, it just isn't my rhythm." I feel like the term just started, and we're already racing to the finish? Have I even taught anybody anything yet? How have I read so many books in so little time, and how do I still have so much to catch up on? Sorry that posting has been light, especially after that energetic spurt at the beginning of last week. More to come soon, including a full rundown of capsule reviews of all those Fall 2006 releases for which I haven't yet explained my grades, from the delicious Departed and Old Joy to the underseen A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints to the overhyped The Queen to the god-awful Little Children. (Kate, Jackie, Jennifer, it isn't your fault, but Mr. Field, you are officially dead to me.)

Also, the elections are tomorrow, and you know I can barely handle the stomach-churning nerves. (Edited to add: YAAAAYYYYY!!!)

For now, just to register a reassuring blip on the cardiogram of this blog, I'm responding to a tag from Nathaniel, who apparently didn't have a great day. It won't help that I just dogged Little Children, but then, part of how cineastes show love is to gently bait each other, as Little Mr. Anti-Frances well knows. Here, according to his own meme, are some other things that Nathaniel probably knows about me, but which you might not:

1. Popcorn or candy? Neither. I'm all about soda, which in the last couple of years, I've started buying at the cinema instead of sneaking it in. I figure, hey, the multiplex owners have to eat, too, and maybe I can forestall the inevitable (i.e., the total evanescence of the cinema as a form, i.e., the end of life as I know it) by drinking way too much Coke (no ice!) out of waxy, oversized pails adorned with confetti, corporate insignias, and/or animated characters.

I will say that in Hartford, CT, about 200 yards away from the big 18-plex was a shop called the Tas-tease that sold tiny, two-inch-wide donuts in a deranging array of flavors and colors. Sure, you can guess the familiars, but pineapple? Blueberry? PB&J? Heath bar? They cost 50¢ apiece, and at that price, who could resist? Nathaniel can back me up here, as these doll-sized donuts helped us work our way out of a post-Flightplan funk pretty handily.

2. Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever I'll give you four: on my annually revised but never fulfilled list of New Year's viewing resolutions, I seem to be dallying in particular on Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, David Cronenberg's Fast Company, and Sam Fuller's The Steel Helmet, despite every encouragement that they'll be terrific (or, at least in the case of Cronenberg's early paycheck effort, kind of interesting).

3. You are given the power to recall one Oscar: Who loses theirs and to whom? Later, I will want to change this answer, but I'll have to go with my first response: send Art Carney back to the bullpen and call up Gene Hackman for The Conversation, who didn't even get nominated for my favorite male performance of an incredible decade of American film, give or take Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Even more galling than Carney's win is that Hackman got squeezed out of the nominees' circle by Albert Finney, who, as StinkyLulu has recently rediscovered, is just awful in the elephantine Murder on the Orient Express.

4. Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe. Which will it be? I have actually already done this. For $11, I bought a cotton-polyester, bright orange hoodie that is straight up Clementine Kruczynski. Even more embarrassing than how often I wear it is how fully I imagine I am communing with Kate Winslet while wearing it. (Though, obviously, I need to wear it even more often and commune even more intensely to save her from the kind of sicko double-whammy of disappointing movies she's had this fall.)

5. Your favorite film franchise is... The Alien series, no question, especially the middle two. But even when the whole thing gets certifiably nuts with Alien: Resurrection, I'm so impressed by the producers' willingness to gamble on a truly interesting director with a spectacularly bold conception every single time out of the gate. I was about to ask 'Why won't more franchises do this?' but then I remembered the box-office grosses for Alien³ and Resurrection.

6. Invite five movie people over for dinner. Who are they? Why'd you invite them? What do you feed them? I was going to say, I would invite Shohreh Aghdashloo, Patricia Clarkson, Marcia Gay Harden, Holly Hunter, and Titus Andronicus, and, with a mad assist from my pal Titus, I would feed them Renée Zellweger. I assume this narrative requires no explanation, but perhaps an answer that isn't a joke or a compound felony is a bit more comme il faut. So, I will crack the lid on an actual, 100% dream scenario and invite Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Julie Dash, Amy Vincent, and Christine Vachon to dinner, to give a project pitch on my screenplay adaptation of Gayl Jones' novel The Healing. Over a meal of whatever the hell these people wanted, I would try to entice Angela to play Joan Savage, the multilingual, volatile, perpetually touring rock singer; Alfre as her more superficially centered but mysterious and potentially duplicitous manager-assistant, Harlan Jane Eagleton; Julie Dash to direct the joint, because even though I've had the gumption to write it, I do think a black woman should direct it; Amy Vincent to photograph it, because in Eve's Bayou and Hustle & Flow, she actually thought about how to light black actors on screen, and made two terrific-looking pictures in the process; and Christine Vachon to produce it, because she'd make us do everything for scale but she'd make the movie we wanted.

Now, having admitted this in the semi-public of this blog, don't be stealing my idea, y'all. I will get you, and when a fan of Gayl Jones' fiction says something like that, you might want to worry about what exactly I'd have in mind.

7. What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theater? Clearly, they should die seven days later, amidst terrorizing visions and fronds of wet black hair.

Honestly, though: why don't we have ushers anymore? The answer, obviously, is that the theater industry literally can't afford to turn away or alienate a single customer, even the awful ones who ruin things for other patrons. But, if I ever owned a cinema, I would pay someone to hang out in the back or in the aisle and remove the talkers, phone-callers, and other rowdykins. Call me a schoolmarm. Go ahead, do it.

8. Choose a female bodyguard: Ripley from Aliens. Mystique from X-Men. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2. The Bride from Kill Bill. Mace from Strange Days. My answer to #6 has already neutralized the surprise factor here, but Mace all the way. Memories might be meant to fade, they might even be designed that way for a reason, but as a famous black lesbian once said, she don't fade. Angela Bassett puts me in touch with my own inner black lesbian. Doesn't she you?

Plus, I don't really like the alternatives. Ripley is amazing but too ornery for me, unless we're counting that spunky, funky, half-alien Ripley from Resurrection, who seemed pretty up for a good time. I'm too chatty for Mystique, and I'm too actressexual to hang out with Linda Hamilton or Uma Thurman, who just aren't interesting or accomplished enough performers to sidle up to me. (Sorry, boys.) Bodyguarding, in the case of this question, is clearly less a question of having my life saved than of being entertained and awed into hero-worship, though let's not undersell Mace's fierce bodyguarding skills. She does have that kicking bulletproof limo, plus those pistols in her garter belt. What's a Hattori Hanzo when you've got (it like) that?

9. What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie? Unless you count the entirety of An Inconvenient Truth, which you should, the only cinematic vision that ever truly wormed its way into the nightmare factory in my mind was Zelda, the scoliotic sister who so deeply disturbs the female lead in Pet Sematary. She freaked out my brother and me for a good long while. Rrrraaachelllllll...

10. Your favorite genre (excluding comedy and drama) is? Why are we excluding drama? So few are made anymore, especially contemporary ones, and compared to the number of comedy, horror, musical, and action fans out there, I think dramas need all the fans they can muster. I'd rather watch Jessica Lange save her farm or Josh Waitzkin learn chess or Mary McDonnell get her groove back or Emma and her mommy reconnect with each other than watch horny American teenagers get julienned abroad or watch Fred and Ginger dance. I avoid bad musicals and bad action films and most bad horror films (though not all), but I often go to dramas that I know will be bad.

11. You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one year. How do you wield this power? Movies made by and about women, employing female directors, writers, cinematographers, editors, actors, composers, production designers... and, especially, offering full creative license, adequate funds, and marketing that isn't braindead so that women who really dazzled us with their early breakout successes but have no Coppola or Miller royal bloodlines get the second, third, or fourth chances they deserve but usually get denied. And so that interesting and prodigiously talented women who still have to fight for every project wouldn't have such an uphill climb for at least a year.

12. Bonnie or Clyde? Bonnie. Sorry, Nat. It's the clothes.

13. Who are you tagging to answer this survey? Tim, Ali, and Goatdog.

Hooray to finishing what one starts, even when it takes a week!

Images © 2004 Focus Features; © 1974 Paramount Pictures/American Zoetrope; © 1997 20th Century Fox; © 1995 20th Century Fox; © 1989 Paramount Pictures; and © 1999 Milan Records

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Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

you're such a tease. going halfsies...

as for Little Children I can take it ;) I don't love it enough to get upset about the many pans.

and stomach churning nerves about the election are certainly playing into the very rough moodswing week I'm having. so i'm seeing movies!

8:49 AM, November 07, 2006  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

I need closure!

1:00 AM, November 10, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

yay for completion! lurve your responses. happy to see the taggings too. wheeeee

10:52 PM, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the apology? Bonnie is obviously the correct answer.

10:55 PM, November 10, 2006  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@The Boyfriend: Oh, you know, sacred cows and all of that. I can't afford to alienate the only person in my life at whom I can sneak a sideline glance, whisper, "Um - Jenny Beaven much?" and be precisely understood, in tone and content.

But yes, Bonnie is the right answer. Hopefully, this response has recouped some of that credit I lost during the whole Frances fiasco.

3:37 PM, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:14 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

Excellent, you finished! Delicious reading. I have to say that I would love your studio for supporting women directors (it's so depressing being able to count them all on your fingers.)

12:15 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tag! Mine are up.

So is December 8 going to be a bigger holiday than Christmas in your household this year?

10:36 PM, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is great! You've got me writing down "The Healing" as a must read book and I'm proud of your gumption to write the screenplay! I adore your picks for dinner.

#8 There really is only one choice for this answer once you've seen Angela Bassett kicking some serious butt and her braids flying the whole time! All I have to say is: Mace can Burn! :)
Thanks for sharing, Nick.

8:48 PM, November 20, 2006  

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