Archive for July, 2007

La Vie en Rose: the life of The Little Sparrow Edith Piaf (and perhaps the best performance I’ve witnessed!)

July 17, 2007

la vie en rose


This movie isn’t so much a story about Edith Piaf, it was hardly a movie in any conventional sense of the word. It was more of a meditation, a remembering. If you can imagine one of the greatest singers of all time on her death bed, crippled, virtually alone and suddenly remembering everything from her life, just as Charles Foster Kane’s tragic life was given to us, only it comes without an interviewer or narration and it is revealed to us in starts and fits, jumping around wildly, seeing everything without a filter, all the goods and the bads, the rights and wrongs. Like a song it is alive, it flows and tells. “La Vie en Rose” is Edith Piaf’s soul bared naked before the audience.

And it’s a soul you don’t necessarily fall in love with, but to talk further about that I feel I must talk about the shining center. It seems to be the “in thing” to say right now “Marrion Cotillard is brilliant, but the movie isn’t as good.” It’s true Marrion Cotillard is beyond brilliant as Edith Piaf, as an actor, without hesitation and every moment she bares her own soul, and makes almost every performance I can think of look pale in comparison. With a single look her doe-like eyes that peer upward, mouth curled in a meek smile, her teeth jutting out slightly, she breaks your heart. She embodies everything about Piaf, at every age…from a brash and raucous 20-year old singing in bars that can barely survive, to a boisterously obnoxious diva at the height of her career (the type of person you would notice from your own dinner table and be annoyed with), to a withering 47-year-old with liver cancer who had lost more than her fair share, all you ever see is Piaf, all you ever hear is Piaf. It is only fitting to cast someone as passionately involved in their character as Piaf was in her music. I was astonished to see a picture of Cotillard in the new issue of Fade In, she looks absolutely nothing like the character she plays. Without her performance the film itself would not thrive as it does.



Post Birthday Depression

July 17, 2007

I had a nice relaxing birthday…so why am I depressed? Read on.

What is a Birthday without discovery? Just to go out and party or get drunk seems to be a waste of a day to me. What do you learn from that, what do you take with you into your next year of life? A glass of alcohol only works for inspiration with the greatest writers and then that’s all you would be doing is drinking…every day…all the time. Imagine how many novels you could get through in the haze of a drunken year. Me none, as hangovers absolutely take the life out of me. So instead I seek to discover new things, in hopes to discover something new about myself, even if it’s simply that I greatly dislike something new.

The first stop was LACMA at about 11:00a.m. Before stepping into all of the typical galleries of paintings and vietnampottery we happened upon an exhibit by someone I had never heard of, DAN FLAVIN. Flavin was an artist that created a lot of his work in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but he didn’t work with brushes or clay, he worked with fluorescent lights of various colors. I would consider his work strictly modern, and at first the idea was almost laughable to my friend and I, especially with some of his simpler formations. Oh, how clever that he took a white fluorescent light and put it at an angle against a wall! But as you walked through the exhibit, they became more visually complex and quite beautiful to look at. Long hallways were placed here and there and halfway down the hall was a wall made of green fluorescents facing the person and facing away yellow fyellow wallluorescents. Another room had some blood red lights positioned creatively in the corner. It’s really hard to describe something simple without making it seem silly. We walked down a long hall of blue fluorescents that were placed along the walls and ceiling in opposing formations and I became dizzy. From the side of the hall with the yellows halfway down, we finally saw the true brilliance of the way it was all set up. The pink on the other side dissolved against the far white wall into an almost purple, then two of the previous rooms in the distance were segmented by colors, blue and green. I almost started drooling. One of the rooms had a long wall of green squares that came to about waist height and cut you off from the other half of the long room. It was quite resplendent (I’ve been wanting to use that word for a long time.)

green wall


Plans for Birthday this 15th of July 2008

July 15, 2007

Because so many people became agitated with me when I didn’t let them know it was my Birthday ahead of time last year; I sent out a schedule of places I’m going to be through out the day, and they can come and go as they please. I share this with you (it’s better if you imagine the Mission Impossible theme over the top of it.)

9:00a.m. Awake, scheduled ahead of time that snooze would be hit twice.

10:00 a.m. meet to head over to LACMA early enough to be able to walk around before lunch. Finally using the membership I bought, but already running a half hour late…should still be there by 11:00a.m.

2:30p.m. Get some old school Hollywood loving at The Pig ‘n Whistle. It is said that many a famous writer once sat in that room…even Orson Welles. This will be my first visit. Hope to feel some of the mojo.

4:15p.m. Meet at Arclight.

4:40p.m. Enjoy La Vie en Rose at mentioned Arclight. Why did the American studio feel the need to rename it that? There’s already a French film with that title that people in the US know about. Stupid studios.

7:ish p.m. After movie is done move to the Cat and the Fiddle for some free jazz, a drink or two and dessert(?)

11:00p.m. Jazz is done. Inspired by great performance, decide to improv for the rest of the night. See where I end up.

Rest of the week: Get together individually with the 30 people who complained last year, but can’t make it this year. Isn’t that the way it is?

That’s alright, I got an interesting gig that I’ll post about sometime after Thursday…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Review

July 12, 2007

12:15 a.m. A couple hundred younger people are seated throughout the dark theatre. The music doesn’t begin right away as it has in the past when the logo appears. Instead a foreboding silence accompanies the silvery dark gray-blue hued clouds that hang just behind the large WB on the screen.

wb logo

A few people applaud, but many wait, feeling perhaps that because of the final events of the previously seen film this one is somehow going to be different. And as the logo approaches us and begins to pass Harry Potter’s theme begins and the crowded one screen theatre house on opening morning goes crazy.

order logo

There are some minor spoilers here!

dumbledore army“Dumbledore’s Army” is the name of the illegal gathering of students that Harry Potter leads in this 5th installment of the popular book turned movie series, and with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, like Harry growing up and learning to take control of his destiny, the filmmakers have made a stunning leap away from the kiddie-friendly adventures of the earlier films and have positioned this film as the most mature, frightening and perhaps best of the series thus far. Because of the heavier nature of the film, it’s easy to not take for granted that Voldemort is a true villain, and that in facing such a villain there are real consequences. It smartly picks up with the consequences of the previous chapter The Goblet of Fire, but I’ll get to that.


LA Movie Update July 6th-8th: “Joshua”, “Rescue Dawn”, “Lucas” and “Ratatouille”

July 10, 2007

Other than, I guess “Transformers”, I had a pretty low key weekend at the box office. It seems the Indie section of the studios thought it smart to release some of these films under the radar of the biggest over exposed blockbuster of the year. They figure anyone with any real film sensibilities would run screaming from the giant robots and into the arms of, say, “Joshua”.

joshua in redDelving into the realms of parental paranoia Joshua creates an interesting psychological vortex. It’s not so much that the boy of the title feels unloved or forgotten about, but that he feels he shouldn’t be loved “just because”. And the film plays and toys with that idea, creating one solid layer on top of another, until we have a nice lasagna of psychology to chew on afterward. Is it enough for a parent to just “love” their children? Does little Joshua really hate his baby sister? At what point does Joshua start to turn for the worse? These are questions the writer/director doesn’t feel are necessary to answer or maybe they don’t need to be. The fact that there are unanswered questions or plot holes in the end isn’t what hurts this movie. The movie falters because it doesn’t know how much of one thing it wants to be. (more…)

“Transformers” and What Will Kids Now Have to Look Forward To in Ten Years

July 8, 2007

transformers poster

I can’t and won’t say I was blown away by this film (Die Hard still takes that cake for the moment). Can’t only because I merely enjoyed it to a great extent and won’t because it’s Michael Bay, and the excess of Michael Bay is like stepping on an ant to make sure it’s dead after a nuclear device it was standing on just went off. (I still find it terribly funny that Michael Bay has two movies on the Criterion Collection. It’s like seeing Ben Affleck on the Actor’s Studio, “Yes Ben, and after your work in a hack-job action movie in which you obliterated everything good about Philip K. Dick you then went on to make mincemeat of a great super hero turning it into the 2nd worst comic book adaptation in the history of cinema…tell us a little about how you took that Academy Award Winner status and pissed on it!”)