Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Ever Supportive Chus Lampreave

Chus Lampreave is one of those singular supporting actresses that always sells the joke and makes her bit part completely unforgettable. It's a magical gift and Pedro Almodóvar knows it, hence their longtime collaboration. Thankfully the pairing will continue with yet another small role in the upcoming Broken Embraces, and there's no doubt she'll be his perfect support system from the sidelines.

Almodóvar recently did a write up for his blog dedicated to "actresses as family," and not surprisingly Chus gets much of his devotion. He gives many heartfelt reasons for their creative bond and explains what makes Chus so special: "When I offered her the role of Mother Street Rat in Dark Habits, her only objection was that she thought it too long, too important, and she should only do little, unimportant roles. Exactly the opposite of what any actress would tell you. Chus belongs to an atypical, wonderful race of actors who gesticulate very little. Or who don’t gesticulate at all, but their faces only reflect truth."

But just as Chus always rewards Almodóvar with a wickedly funny performance, he also gives her some of his best lines. Take it, Chus!

Chus as the loving mother figure:

"Shut up, crabface!"

"Let me comb your hair. You look like a Caveman."

"You know who you remind me of? Of my sister Petra. You're the spitting image of her... may she rest in peace. Those same beautiful lunatic eyes."

"You expect me to pole-vault over you?"

Chus on health:

"If I don't use a glycerin suppository, I don't shit."

"Keep the bones and skin for my dessert."

Chus on going out in public:

"Why should I? To be killed by a skinhead or run over by a car? Those skinheads always stare at me, I don't know why."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

VHS Retrospectives: Waxwork (1988)

I can remember as a tot curling myself into a little ball while watching the horror flick Waxwork. I was alone in the basement, which probably accounts for most of my bad childhood reaction, but I thought it was pure unadulterated terror. (It was around the same time as my devout love for USA Network's Up All Night with Ronda Shear... Anyone?) Upon watching it again, age has taken off the nightmarish sheen and replaced it with ninety minutes of laughter. Nowadays it all looks pretty silly, but (for the most part) intentionally so and in the very best way. With all the 80's horror flicks being pillaged by the studios, this one has some of the best remake potential -- not that I'd actually want to see that happen. As the evil curator says in the film, "They'll make a movie about anything these days." Waxwork was SO ahead of its time.

The story consists of teenagers lured into a mystical wax museum, where crossing the red velvet rope means crossing over into the harsh realms of some true horror icons. Vampires, mummies, sadomasochists (?); it's all here alongside an admirable amount of crushed heads. I'm sad to say I didn't curl up into a ball this time, but I found an altogether different kind of enjoyment...

First off, that kid from Gremlins is kinda hot! There's also Bobby from Twin Peaks (pre-Bobby from Twin Peaks) in a very bad wig. Bad for him, good for us. His short-lived character is best summed up by this exchange mere moments before his death: "The Caribbean, the Bahamas, a pretty girl, a body, a bikini... Do I get a woman in my illusion? No, I get a dick. This sucks man!" That "dick" he's referring to is the Wolfman, and the illusion isn't what sucks, it's his role.

We've got that old tried and true horror dynamic of the bitchy skank and her chaste best friend. Here the skank lays it all out: "I do what I want when I want. Dig it or fuck off." Simple enough... You still want layered characters? Well that so-called virgin's got a big lust for whippings and the Marquis de Sade! She's also played by the awesomer-than-most Deborah Foreman, whose awesomeness may have peaked when she played both Muffy AND Buffy in the certifiably awesome April Fool's Day.

Then there's ALF as the Waxwork greeter, described in the film as "that weird tiny guy addicted to helium." His real name is Mihaly 'Michu' Meszaros, and no one gives a line reading quite like him. "Ve vere expectink more!" Would I hire him to be my butler? Yes. Would it make everyone and myself uncomfortable? Yes.

Waxwork has exploding heads, bodies split down the middle, werewolves eating the handicapped, and people impaled on champagne. If being filled to the brim with explicit gore weren't enough, it's all topped off with some Lesley Gore. Madame Tussauds' got nothin' on this place!

Happiness During Wartime

This is true happiness. I've been waiting for this news for so long. Todd Solondz is back!

Like Palindromes, it looks like we might be getting ties to some already beloved characters - even if they've killed themselves. And did someone say Emma Thompson?

"The progressive/transgressive minds at new indie production and finance joint Werc Werk Works have stepped in to (gasp!) produce and finance Solondz's latest journey into the darkest recesses of the human psyche, a proposed semi-sequel to his twisted cult classic Happiness, rumored to be titled Life During Wartime. The film is set to star Demi Moore, Paul Reubens and Emma Thompson, among others, as people twittering on the edge of an unpredictable, sexually alienating world (sounds about right), and is slated to begin shooting in October. " (JoBlo)

Bless you Todd Solondz for tapping into such extreme human misery and making it all so hysterical. We're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you.

"I know this is going to sound horrible. I just feel like I have to be open with you and get beyond all the old barriers - the sibling nonsense. Well the truth is I always thought that you would never amount to much - that you would end up alone, without a career or anything. You know, I mean really it's what we all thought. Mom, Dad, Helen... everyone. Oh I always prayed we would be wrong, but somehow you always seemed so doomed to failure... But now I see that's not true! There's a glimmer of hope for you after all. I'm sorry, I know I'm repeating myself. I'm just really happy for you."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Maude and Minnie in Memoriam

Here's just a little tribute to the miraculous Ruth Gordon on the anniversary of her passing. Renting apartments and attending funerals wouldn't be the same without her.

Also, check out what I learned on my summer vacation. Because you've got nothing better to do. I mean clearly... you ended up here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Terrifying Faces of Retro Posters!

Invisibility is one thing.
Missing naptime is quite another.

You've got something in your eye...

The eyes are the window to the soul.
She'll eat yours.

Created by Science.
Undressed by Man.

--more posters here

Hide and Seek with Paul Rudd

"It must be in the kitchen..."

"Oh, there they are."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Don't Bogart That Can... Man

No, I'm not retarded. I'm rhyming. It's not easy.

These are my half-baked thoughts after seeing Pineapple Express:

(I) I started to realize how much material is really out there basically saying 'Legalize It!' All the same, much of that is portraying the people within as perhaps lovable - but nevertheless braindead slackers. Is that really helping their cause? Perhaps it's not as interesting to see someone get high and write sonnets or build a house, but I'm sure it has happened. It's as likely as hitting a girl on her bicycle on your way out of the drive-thru... Either way, films like Super High Me, Smiley Face, and the small screen pleasures of Trailer Park Boys and Weeds, all celebrate marijuana while satirizing it as something done by entertaining stupid people. Then again, there's no one to offend when potheads can find humor in anything. Articulate, cerebral stoner movies are the way of the future! If anyone's not too stoned to write them...

(II) James Franco is the best. Hug your dealer today!

(III) Most stoner films stick to the old adage of giving the pothead their moment of realization that this very vice is what led to their problems in the first place. They're basically lecturing the very audience for which it was intended. Why condone and then condemn? Pineapple Express leans into this yet thankfully pulls back for that one last celebratory toke. It's admirable and this way you leave the audience on a high. (Also, punning should only be excusable while high).

(IV) My favorite stoner show isn't in theatres or on television, but it should be. Tracie and Rich have long been doling out their high advice on Pot Psychology and I think they finally deserve a place alongside Judge Judy.

(V) After that you'll definitely have the munchies. Problem solved! Remember to look both ways when pulling out of a drive-thru...

Diagnosing Jennifer

Jennifer Connelly has made a lifetime of depressing movies, for which I thank her. Those who think she needs to lighten up just haven't heard the whole story...

1985: Jennifer's depression was apparent from early on, as she was having trouble associating with other girls her age. This social block led her instead to form friendships with animals, including what she believed to be a profound telepathic connection with insects. This, combined with Jennifer's dangerous bouts of sleepwalking, led doctors to believe that Jennifer was showing the first signs of schizophrenia.

1986: Upon the alarming diagnosis, Jennifer began acting out. She would tell stories about a "Goblin King" she'd named Jareth and insisted that she complete elaborate puzzles in order to rescue a younger half-brother, whom she'd given the name Toby.

1987-1991: As a teenager, Jennifer's family grew concerned when she began spending nights away from home, failing to notify anyone of her whereabouts. In 1991 Jennifer was found inside a local Target department store, having passed out in one of the store's dressing rooms.

1992-1998: Around the same time, Jennifer began experimenting with her sexuality, confused by her feelings for both men and women. She was accepted at the prestigious Columbus University and was finally becoming more involved in social activities, even acting as a campus advocate for gender rights. In 1995 an unexpected outbreak of racism and violence erupted on the campus, finally giving Jennifer the push to seek a new path and pursue her passions for music and fashion in the city. While Jennifer's life was starting to take a positive turn, it was here that Jennifer experienced her first thoughts of suicide.

2000: In the summer Jennifer's creative side was blossoming as she started work on her own fashion line. The inspiration was quickly counteracted by a spiraling addiction to drugs. By the Fall of 2000, Jennifer's habit became so extreme that she was drawn into prostitution in order to support it. Once again Jennifer was finding herself on the edge.

2001: The man able to pull her back was a mathematician by the name of John Nash, whom Jennifer was instantly drawn to for his love of complicated puzzles and similar bouts with schizophrenia. The marriage also spawned a child for the couple, but John's deteriorating mental state was too much for Jennifer to handle.

2003: Jennifer began cleaning houses, earning enough with the aid of child support to buy herself a lovely beach front property. The divorce, drug recovery and minimum wage were taking their toll on Jennifer. It reached a dramatic peak during a property dispute in which the bank foreclosed on her beach front home, leaving Jennifer to take residence in a nearby storage unit. She was pushed over the edge, attempting several times to end her life.

2005: During the numerous custody battles, Jennifer was able to keep her daughter. She was also able to save up enough money for the move to an apartment on the outskirts of the city - but thankfully away from the pier. Her attempts to give her daughter a normal life were soon halted when signs of Jennifer's schizophrenia began to reappear, leading Jennifer to believe that her daughter was instead a child who'd died in the apartment building years prior.

2006-Present: To this day Jennifer still struggles with the disorder, often ruining dinner parties.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Amber's Waves

Julianne Moore's tears dry on their own. Proof comes in a blog post written for The Film Experience by, well... me. Check it out here. Might as well pimp my own material as it saves me having to actually write more, god forbid. Plus you can always do with some Julianne Moore... alone and crying, crying, crying...

Bitten by a Mouse

Among the million things I love about Rosemary's Baby, the mesmerizing and eerie dream sequences are near the top. They flow seamlessly yet erratically, and they make little immediate sense while still being prophetic. The central dream in the film is the fusion of Rosemary's drug-fueled (or chocolate mouse-fueled) nightmare with her less-than-immaculate conception. The scene streams like consciousness and has become one of those unforgettable moments in cinema, not simply for its pivotal piece in the story.

For your demonic pleasure, here's a comparison between that classic scene and the loving homage from Michele's Soavi's The Church (La Chiesa)...

The sequence in Rosemary's Baby includes infinitely more detail and atmospheric imagery than is shown here; such as Rosemary's arrival at this dark lair below the deck of a ship and a visit by the Pope himself. It's splendid work by Roman Polanski and one of the greatest representations of dreaming ever captured on film. The Church hardly stacks up to that claim, but it makes up for this absence in its own way -- by pushing the taste barrier just a bit too far, even by demon rape standards.