Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dexter, Season 4

This season was a total doozy. A few highlights. John Lithgow going full-psycho as The Trinity Killer. The twist involving his family member. Jennifer Carpenter as Deb Morgan. She gets better and better every season. Courtney Ford as Christine (see picture above). At first it seemed she was an irrelevant sub-plot and an excuse for nudity but she turned out to be a fascinating character, and a really good performance. "Nothing is invevitable." The scene with the ten-year-old boy and the cement pit. Oh, and the very end. I knew it was coming (I watched this way late) but still it gave me chills.

You are almost enough to make me pay for Showtime, Dexter, but not quite.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sally Menke 1953 - 2010

Very sad news about Tarantino's most important collaborator, his editor Sally Menke, who has worked on all his films. She was found dead yesterday, possibly on a hike, with the cause of death possibly the heat waves enveloping Los Angeles. I feel terrible about this news, both because she seemed too young, but also on a purely selfish level that I will not get to see her incredible work on the next Tarantino film. To my amateur eyes she was one of the great editors working today. One of her sequences below.


John D. MacDonald's fiction was not frequently, or successfully, adapted for film and television. There was a decent film adaptation of A Flash of Green, starring Ed Harris, and Cape Fear, of course, both versions, was based on JDM's 1957 novel The Executioners.

A story of JDM's, however, called "Hangover," was adapted into an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1962. I just read it--it's reprinted in a collection titled End of the Tiger. It's a perfect little story: an advertising man wakes up with a colossal hangover, its physical nature described spot-on by JDM, and as he slowly pieces together the previous night his memories take him from bad to worse to nightmarish.

The television adaptation--it's available on Hulu--is pretty faithful, although it adds a subplot involving another woman. Tony Randall plays Hadley Purvis, a Manhattan advertising man, who is an unrepentant smarmy drunk. We see him wreck an important meeting for his firm, pick up a gorgeous Jayne Mansfield at a bar (that part was very unbelievable) and eventually (spoilers herein) discover that he's done away with his wife in the midst of a blackout.

The episode goes on a little too long but it's well worth watching, especially if you're a Mad Men fan. The office scenes, with their mid-century furniture and brylcreemed men, are great. Also of note: I am not overly familiar with Jayne Mansfield's career. I feel like I know more about her sad fate and her daughter (Mariska Hargitay) than her actual filmwork but she's pretty delectable in "Hangover," particularly with her short hair-do. Maybe I'll check out her other collaboration with Tony Randall, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poetry Monday

In the beginning was the

by Lillian Morrison

The ball flew
spiralling true
into the end zone
where it was snagged,
neatly hugged
by a swivel-hipped back
who ran up the field
and was smeared.

The game has begun.
The game has been won.
The game goes on.
Long live the game.
Gather and lock
tackle and block
move, move,
around the arena
and always the beautiful

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Town (2010)

Really good. I love well-executed genre pictures, and this was one of them, the heist scenes (all three of them) distinct and exciting in their own way (the best was the final one at Fenway Park). All the actors plays their characters well, in particular I enjoyed Jeremy Renner as a young psychopath, Rebecca Hall as a misguided love interest, and Jon Hamm as a quick-thinking FBI agent. I had problems with the end, in particular the overly-sentimental resolution of the love story, but it was a small flaw in an otherwise pretty riveting flick.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Bill Murray

In honor of his day, here are my top ten Murray performances:

"Garfield, maybe."

"Tanqueray and Tab and keep 'em comin'."

The Royal Tenenbaums
"You made a cuckold of me."

Lost in Translation
"Hey? Lip them? Lip them? What?"

"I never liked a girl well enough to give her twelve sharp knives."

"That is one nutty hospital."

"Chicks dig me, because I rarely wear underwear and when I do it's usually something unusual."

"She's not my girlfriend. I find her interesting because she's a client and because she sleeps above her covers... four feet above her covers"

"Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down."

Groundhog Day
"Can I have another one of these with some booze in it?"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Poetry Monday

Today's poem comes with a bonus painting by Marcel Duchamp, the painting that inspired the poem:

Nude Descending a Staircase

by X. J. Kennedy

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh –
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hawaii 5-0

I reviewed the new Hawaii 5-0 reboot on CBS for Slant Magazine. Check it out here.

The Deceivers (1968)

A non-genre novel from John D., and a very good one. It's about an affair in suburbia, and what's great about it is how logically it unfolds and suddenly a book that feels slight and frivolous turns into a suspense thriller (of a sort) and then almost a horror novel. It's like a slowly building storm with a terrible end. As usual with anything by John D., the details, in this case the boredom and comfort of a 1960s subdevelopment in the Midwest, make it come alive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

True Blood: In Memoriam

I'm posting this because True Blood ended this past Sunday night. Now where am I going to get my weekly sex and violence fix?

HBO originally aired this the night that the Emmys were also on. It was just a little extra goody from the producers, an In Memoriam spoof that includes all of the True Blood deaths. Suffice to say, spoiler alert, and also, of course, gore alert.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jennifer's Body (2009)

This is an unfair mini-review because I started this movie late at night over the weekend, fell asleep halfway through, then woke up to catch the end. Still, from what I saw, this was pretty terrible. It's a horror-comedy that is neither scary nor funny. And while Amanda Seyfried emerged unscathed, I did think that Megan Fox, who I don't think I've ever really seen a film, was pretty awful. I wouldn't necessarily be picking on her if it didn't seem like she gets a lot of hype but I hope she has a little more talent than was on display on this movie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poetry Monday

Mid-term Break

by Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying–
He had always taken funerals in his stride–
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’,
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

And coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandanged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Bullet for Cinderella (1955)

A middle-of-the-road thriller from John D. It's got a lot of action, a terrifying villain, a good girl, and a bad girl. It even has buried treasure. It all adds up to a fast and good read but not the most memorable of his early thrillers.