Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Birthday Invite to Matthew Eng

First, to Matthew Eng, a longtime reader of this website whose birthday is today, June 12. I have never actually met Matthew, but a little birdy (initials V.S.) told me that he has spent enough time on this site that he'd get a kick out of an e-mail or a tweet or a blogpost saying "Hello!" and "Happy Birthday!" and "Long Live All Those Actresses You and I Both Love!"

But I've decided to go Matthew and his birthday benefactor one better, because with the Northwestern school year finally wrapping up, and with my long year of waiting for tenure and for my book to come out (expect more soon about that!), it's clearly past time to get serious about reviving this website and blog.  I loved hearing that there are readers out there who still enjoy this site and its initial centerpiece of long-form reviews, because I haven't written one in quite a while.  Getting other, bigger, higher-stakes writing projects off my plate means getting to re-embrace lots of smaller and/or more personal ones, and I can't tell you how delighted I am to throw off the dust covers and get Nick's Flick Picks properly going again.  Hopefully all the plumbing still works and the electricity's still on.

So Matthew, for being such a devoted patron of NFP, and for having such a good friend who's such a fantastic person and wonderful student (which only assures me of how fantastic and wonderful you surely are, too), what would you like to hear about first?  You, like me, live with the indignity of having no Best Actress nominee who shares a birthday with you, or else I was going to profile one of her performances.  My research shows me that your birthday-mates include famous diarist Anne Frank, and I've never seen the Oscar-winning documentary Anne Frank Remembered or the classic Diary of Anne Frank, which netted so many Academy nods and a win for Shelley Winters, one of the very few Supporting Actress victors I have left to screen. Should I write one of those up for you?  Are those too depressing for a birthday celebration?

Would you prefer a review of a movie starring gorgeous Aussie stalwart Frances O'Connor, perhaps Patricia Rozema's oddball adaptation of Jane Austen's magnificent Mansfield Park? Something starring saucy, multi-talented African-American pioneer Nina Mae McKinney, such as her dazzling musical debut in Hallelujah! or the amazing pre-Code potboiler Safe in Hell? Maybe you'd prefer a review of one of last year's most terrific movies, Magic Mike, starring another Matthew, as well as June 12 birthday girl Cody Horn? That would also be a prompt to post my long-delayed Top Ten of 2012.  Maybe you'd enjoy a review of one of the only three movies that ever featured the legendary stage actress Uta Hagen, who originated the role of Martha in Broadway's original Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? If you're in the market for Uta, the movies I know I can get my hands on are the dark thriller The Boys from Brazil or the celebrated Jeremy Irons-Glenn Close potboiler Reversal of Fortune.

Or maybe you'd be more excited for a movie that shares your birthday, rather than an actor or actress who did so? A bit more digging reveals that The Witches of Eastwick, which I've never seen, and Predator, which I have, both opened on June 12, 1987. Six years earlier, Raiders of the Lost Ark bowed on June 12, 1981, as did the O.G. original Clash of the Titans. I've already reviewed the modern lesbian classic High Art (twice, in fact, because I love it), but not the other actressy arthouse venture that opened on June 12, 1998: the eccentric Balzac adaptation Cousin Bette, where Jessica Lange tries out period comedy, and everything ends with Elisabeth Shue and Bob Hoskins smearing each other's naked bodies with chocolate sauce. For real.

Or maybe the most obviously birthday-related linkage———and I'm not sure how you feel about this—is that you came into the world on the same day that Rosemary's Baby did. Don't worry, I'm sure that doesn't mean anything.

So, Matthew: pick one of the movies listed above, and I'll be delighted to review it: not just in honor of you, but as a gesture of solidarity with all my patient readers that I really am baaaack. Choose wisely (use the Force!), leave your answer in the Comments field, and have a fantastic day today!

P.S. One extra gift: June 12 is also the birthday of the hostess of the obviously best infomercial there ever was.  I give you Jennilee Harrison and the Infinite Dress. You're welcome. (Go easy on her, because as she may have mentioned, she doesn't have a mirror.)

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Anonymous Kristina said...

This is Kristina - I left you roughly the RANDOMEST note in your mailbox in Gender Studies congratulating you on your tenure.
Unless Emily told you about that. But yeah. That was me. CONGRATS!
ps: yay! you're back!

8:12 AM, June 12, 2013  
Blogger James T said...

This is Matthew - I hacked James's account. I want you to review Rosemary's Baby. Thanks!

OK, I can't do this to you. I'm lying. I'm actually James.

You're back! (For my birthday I want you to at least see Little Shop of Horrors. Only 6 months left!)

9:05 AM, June 12, 2013  
Anonymous Matthew said...

Hi! Nice to cyber-meet you!

I'm kind of speechless. In Supporting Actress terminology, I'm somewhere between Juliette Binoche's silent awe and Marcia Gay Harden's poised wonder right now. What a thrill, indeed.

I'm really such a fan of yours. You've been a huge inspiration to me since I came across your Best Actress series, which has essentially become my blogging bible. I've been telling Vicky to take a course with you for the past two years, and have been more or less seething with envy since she told me she got in to your class.

As for the review, I'd definitely pass on Diary of Anne Frank, because the only thing more depressing than the story is Shelley Winters doing that whole delusional, damaged diva shtick and winning an Oscar for Juanita Moore as a result. I think I'll take a pass on Uta Hagen and her acting peer Cody Horn. And I love Jessica Lange and I'm sure Cousin Bette is something that probably needs to be seen to be believed, but I think I'm gonna go with Rosemary's Baby because I've always thought of myself as the offspring of Satan and Mia Farrow, and although I haven't seen it in a while, I still remember it often as one of the first films that has ever made my blood actually curdle, in ways that were completely, cinematically new and astounding to me at the time. I'm sure it isn't as pitch-perfect as I remember but I'm sure it's worth the revisit.

Thank you so much for this! You really don't know how much this means to me.

11:21 AM, June 12, 2013  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Hooray! This comment is so funny (and also so touching) that I'm regretting never having written a review for you before! And it's so kind of you to take James T's preferences into account on this, your day of days. I have a shiny new copy of the Criterion Blu-Ray of Rosemary's Baby just sitting here in cellophane from when I purchased it in March. The wrapping comes off tonight, and the review should land this weekend. Looking forward, and again, Happy Birthday!

(And of all your great turns of phrase, my favorite was "...Uta Hagen and her acting peer, Cody Horn.")

11:52 AM, June 12, 2013  
Anonymous Anders said...

Great! Looking forward to continued reviews.

3:19 PM, June 13, 2013  
Blogger Jorge Rodrigues said...

It's great that you're returning! I'm still waiting to hear your thoughts on TABU, which I know you liked a lot ;)


6:21 PM, June 22, 2013  

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