Saturday, February 25, 2012
When a film critic starts to pay attention to the sets - the furniture in particular - then the movie (in this instant case "Albert Nobbs") is obviously in trouble.
Granted, there is a lot to be entertained by when this star vehicle (crafted for Glenn Close) splashes across the silver screen in a dazzling array of rich textures and lush eye-catching environs that can't help but captivate.
If a film buff is in to mesmerizing "period" pieces, then this quirky little drama is a gem that will sit right when all is said and done.
For starters, the cast of charming likable characters (for the most part) are delightul to behold.
Ms. Close, who acted as producer on this independent feature, established that she has a keen eye when is comes to scooping up talent capable of fleshing out the subtle nuances of complex intriguing personality.
Unfortunately, the gifted actress fell short when it came to creative choices for herself, especially in respect to the gender-bending role she attempts to tackle on screen here.
Part of the problem has to do with the "make-up" and the "prosthetics".
More often-than-not - because of the aforementioned challenges - emotions couldn't help but fail to ripple (or even register) on Nobb's frail face (so heavy was the mask that hindered as it also managed to confound in scene-after-scene).
Close - who scared the "bejesus" out of filmgoers in thrillers like "Fatal Attraction" - was barely able to rustle up a solid (or genuine) emotion-or-two on her normally-expressive face.
Consequently, her performance ends up being wooden, and falls flat.
In the early eighties, Ms. Close won an OBIE (stage honor) for her portrayal of "Albert Nobbs" in a stellar Broadway production.
After catching the film version last night, it was obvious that the well-written play lost something in the translation!
A handful of scenes are a "hoot" - downright hilarious - though.
For example, when Nobbs strikes up a friendship with another woman (impersonating a man like herself for the purposes of gainful employment) "he" is persuaded to don a frock the character's "lover" designed in her studio just before her untimely death.
When the odd twosome is suddenly spied strolling down the beach in the frilly "feminine" frocks moments later, there is a loud knee-jerk reaction from the audience.
Nobbs and the other gal appear for-all-the-world to be a couple of out-of-place freaks (social outcasts, at least).
Both - um - ladies were certainly too butch to be caught modelling the dainty outfits that cried out for slim pretty beauties in their stead.
Although the Nobb's production is of decent quality, at times, it was obvious (to moi, for sure!) that the flick was made on the cheap (to its detriment).
Where's Harvey Weinstein when 'ya need him?
Although "Albert Nobbs" is not ground-breaking material - or even thought-provoking in nature - it is worth the price of admission.
By the way, keep your eye on a couple of the "hunks" hopping in-and-out of bed throughout, because I expect their acting careers will be soaring in the near future.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Project Red Dress...Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence invite you to dress-up! Giddy-up for Charity!
The Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are tossing a dazzling soiree at the World Market Center and Pavilions in Las Vegas and invite locals, out-of-towners, and tourists alike to slip into a par-tay frock, kick-up their heels, and toast the town!
Expect a barrel full of laughs, sizzling-hot entertainment, silent and live auctions, a costume contest, high-spirited dancing, a cash bar, and lots of debauchery and Sister mayhem!
During tough economic times, and in spite of a tendency of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters to take pot-shots at local and National Banks, one financial institution elected to take the high road this week and "give back".
Thanks to Cathay Bank, the bustling streets of Chinatown in Los Angeles County, are boasting 80 shade trees!
The bank - which has been serving the community without fail over the decades - took the occasion of its 50th Anniversary to gift the neighborhood in a unique environmentally-sound way!
At a festive ceremony on February 23rd at the bank's branch at 777 N. Broadway - Cathy Leung (a spokeswoman for the bank) - noted that the Hong Kong Orchid trees were slated to be installed on Hill Street between Ord and Bernard.
One for the environmentalists, eh?
The generous bank is a subsidiary of Cathay General Bancorp, a publicly held company, with $10 billion in assets.
If you resided in West Hollywood a couple of decades ago, and were inclined to pop into the Posh Bagel now-and-then for a bite to eat (just down from the old Mayfair Market) - chances are - you might cross paths with the legendary fashion designer Rudy Gernreich (pictured).
Mr. Gernreich was a high-profile fashionista (and clothes-horse) in these parts (his studio was on Santa Monica Boulevard just shy of La Cienega) known for his many bold (fanciful) innovations in the thread trade.
For example, the diminutive artist - usually attired in chic futuristic-looking black slacks and tight t's (which were sparked up with understated tasteful accessories such as fine jewellry) - introduced the topless bathing suit in 1964 (and the world was never the same after that).
Tattler readers may recall that I penned a post on Mr. Gernreich in recent years, and that the gifted visionary was a casual friend who attempted to boost my own modelling career by placing a persuasive call to super agent Nina Blanchard.
Oh "she" of Merv Griffin fame!
Gernreich was part of a motley (dynamic) trio which included his muse - top model - Peggy Moffitt and her late husband (a photographer) William Claxton.
Today, I was quite thrilled to receive a press release which announced that the Museum of Contemporary Art will be presenting a body of Gernreich's work - appropriately titled - "The Total Look" - at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
The much-anticipated display will feature pieces from Ms. Moffitt's collection, in addition to, films and photographs by Claxton (wherein the model is captured in candid moments in front of his insightful penetrating lens).
Gernreich's work incorporated influences from the pop, minimal, and performance art scenes.
The multi-talented designer created the "unisex" look, often used leotards and tights before they were commonly splashed forward into the mainstream by other designers, and was keen on "see through" wardrobe outfits.
With obvious tongue-in-check, he whipped up the "No Bra" bra one fine day.
In Gernreich's mischievous hands, lowly street fashions suddenly became high brow!
Claxton first began to photograph Gernreich's offerings in 1957 and documented all the collections from 1962 onward.
A film - "Basic Black: William Claxton w/Peggy Moffitt" - will be featured during the run of the exhibition Sunday February 26th through May 20th.
See 'ya there!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Will the revamped Oscar rules pertaining to eligibility requirements for documentaries level the playing field for fledgling filmmakers submitting their work for Academy Award consideration in the coming years ahead?
Is famed documentarian Michael Moore a despicable ogre out to raise the "bar" so the lofty dream to snag the coveted trophy is just beyond their reach?
And, why is the Oscar nominating process dominated by a majority of old (rich) white men (to the exclusion of women and minorities?).
Those were a handful of the issues raised at a panel discussion hosted by IDA (Independent Documentary Association) Board President Marjan Safinia on Monday night at the Cinefamily Theatre on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood proper as the Oscar celebrations loom large on the horizon.
The illustrious guest list also included Steve Pond (a columnist for "The Wrap"), Dana Harris (an editor-in-chief @ Indiewire), James Moll (an Executive Committee member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences), and Dustin Smith (a VP for acquisitions at "Roadside Attractions").
Tattler readers may recall that I published a post on the upcoming rule changes which have understandably caused an uproar in the documentary film community in recent weeks.
Some filmmakers in attendance at the event - who found Moore's recent interviews on news tabloid shows a little cavalier - pointed an accusing finger.
For example, one highly-vocal individual below the footlights actually pooh-poohed Moore's notion that a gentleman (who called in on a local talk-show to quiz the filmmaker personally on air) interested in crafting a short documentary on his hobby - "golfing" - would have a better chance shooting for the gold now in spite of the "hoops" he'd have to go through under the new set of criteria.
"He (Moore) was misinformed," one irate filmmaker lamented to all within earshot in disgust.
A bone of contention?
The Academy is proposing that to be eligible - a filmmaker must not only have a "legitimate" screening in a recognized theatrical venue outside of the "festival" circuit - but also secure a critical review in either the New York Times back east or in the Los Angeles Times on the West Coast.
A tall order to fill, you betcha!
"Just ask Kenneth Turan or Betsy Sharkey (both are film critics)," one upstart angrily retorted to all within earshot.
"Quite a few of the newspaper reporters have been laid off. The reviewers won't have the time to write critiques for one-hundred-and-twenty-or so potential nominees each year come Oscar time."
In addition, others expressed their fears that a published "review" by a sophisticated "worldly-wise" (potentially cynical) film critic might ring the death knell, too.
"If the review is negative, there's no way the doc will get a nod from Academy members," one huffed in frustration.
James Moll (a voting branch member at the Academy) heartily disagreed.
"The rules only stipulate that there be a review. Whether the critique is a good one or a bad one is neither here-nor-there," he assured the filmmakers who were sitting on the edge of their seats by now stewing.
The Academy, in my estimation - and based on the information I have been privy to - is simply seeking to implement a set of criteria that guarantees a bona-fide theatrical release that holds up to legitimate industry standards.
In retrospect, all the speakers fessed up that - true - there has been quite a glut of documentaries submitted in recent years.
And, no argument here, the larger percentage of the projects have been crafted for television.
Moll was quick to denounce what amount to underhanded - under-the-table efforts by a scurilous few - to circumvent the professional process.
Apparently, a slew of filmmakers have screened their precious documentaries in out-of-the-way venues in the past - in Fallbrook, for instance (the fall guy, that night) - in a deceitful attempt to have it "both ways".
"They want to meet the eligibility requirements on the sly - without drawing attention to their project - so that they can premiere it on television later."
In essence, the filmmaker manages to kill two birds with stone, in that event.
For instance, if the filmmaker nabs an Oscar nomination after a somewhat "shady" theatrical release, the prestigious honor will be leveraged to-the-max after-the-fact to promote their project when it is released at a high-profile red-carpet high-event.
"The Oscar was designed to honor the best of film for the year in which the projects were theatrically-released. Exploiting the "Oscar" as a publicity tool was never the intent of the Academy," Moll argued in no uncertain terms.
To ensure the integrity of the system was not compromised, IDA jumped into the fray a few years ago, with the specific aim of providing a venue for struggling filmmakers that met all the criteria Oscar's handlers hammered out so diligently.
The standards for a theatrical release are crystal clear:
*The doc must screen for at least one week at a professional venue
*The venue must publish the date of the screenings in a local daily
*A Festival does not constitute a venue for the purposes of a Theatrical Release
By the way, the mere mention of a Los Angeles Times report that was published this past week on the make-up (and precise number) of vote-casters at various branches of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences triggered an outcry as well.
"Ninety-eight percent of the voting committee members are old white men," one pushy documentary filmmaker scoffed.
"Once the holiday is over tomorrow, people need to call the Academy and ask why that is," lamented Dana Harris.
At this juncture, I slumped down a little uncomfortably in my plush leather seat.
Gosh, I wonder why.
Could it be because I am a member of that elite club?
No wonder the issue of "rules changes" has reared its ugly head.
If you read between-the-lines, obviously, a posse of filmmakers got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
In my humble opinion?
The Academy is heading in the right direction.
Change is as good as a breath of fresh air!
Stay posted for updates, eh?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Although it is doubtful that – “The Forgiveness of Blood” (a film by Joshua Marston) – will ever be a commercial success in the mainstream, the compelling tale about “blood feuds” in modern-day Albania may find a comfortable niche at boutique revival movie houses around the country.
The well-produced independent feature (with subtitles) – not only garnered interest at Telluride & the Toronto International Film Festival – but also managed to snap up a coveted prize at the Berlin Film Festival for best screenplay.
Joshua Marston’s 2nd feature ("Maria Full of Grace" was his first venture into the realms of filmdom) focuses on an Albanian family caught up in a blood feud.
Nik (the male lead in the flick) finds his world turned upside-down when his father becomes embroiled in a land dispute which leaves a fellow villager murdered.
According to centuries-old Albanian law, the dead man’s family is entitled to take the life of a male member of Nik’s family as retribution.
The major strength of the film is in Marston’s keen ability to contrast - and make sense of - the out-dated antiquated traditions which adversely (unjustly?) affect the lives of the teenagers who struggle against the oppression they're faced with daily through no fault or deed of their own.
As the director sees it, the film tells a universal story about growing up, framed within the specific context of a society caught in the midst of change - a society simultaneously connected to the 21st Century through cell phones and the Internet - yet also imprisoned by the past due to tradition that carries the full weight and force of binding law.
For Marston, the experience was an enlightening thought-provoking one.
“The research is often the most fascinating element of the whole film for me. That’s when everything is new, everything is interesting. It’s like an enormous puzzle and I’m just accumulating hundreds and hundreds of pieces.”
When Marston read about the tradition of blood feuds, initially, it was not the feuds themselves that frustrated - but rather - the fact that they continued in the present day in Albania that intrigued him.
Understandably, the well-crafted script that sprang from that perspective, ended up translating well to film.
“Forgiveness of Blood” moves along at a fast entertaining pace without much excess baggage bogging it down.
Unfortunately, poor production values were a bit distracting at times for me (the cinematography was a bit muddy on occasion).
The two young leads (Tristan Halilaj and Sindi Lacej) turned in remarkably believable performances in spite of the fact they were both non-actors (plucked from the local scene) appearing for the first time on the silver screen.
The film was financed by Fandango Portobello and the Artists Public Domain (with generous grants from Cinereach, Goteborg Film Festival Film Fund, and the New York State Council on the Arts).
Catch "Forgiveness of Blood" if you can!
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Lindsay Lohan is probably counting her blessings these days and kissing the blues good-bye!
For good reason!
After all, the sexy young starlet has a new gig hosting Saturday Night Live!
Look for the troubled superstar to pop up on the old boob tube on March 3rd, provided she remains in good graces with the court.
And, get this!
The sexy young starlet may be portraying the legendary screen siren - Elizabeth Taylor - in a Lifetime MOW (made-for-TV movie) which is being orchestrated behind-the-scenes by Larry Thompson who has had his heart set on producing the project since 2011.
Tentatively titled - "Liz & Dick" - one has to seriusly wonder if Ms. Lohan has the acting chops to pull-off the plum - but challenging - assignment off.
Ms. Taylor was a great beauty - and formidable talent - after all!
Stay posted for updates!
The 2012 edition of the US International Film & Video Festival is seeking qualifying entries from the following rich mediums:
Festival organizers have been recognizing creative excellence in the foregoing fields of endeavour for the past 46 years strong!
Become a part of the tradition!
The deadline for submissions is March 1st!
Enter online @:
Break a leg, eh?
Monday, February 20, 2012
If men's fashion designers have any say in the matter this fall, the city terrain will be populated with a posse of cowboys, virile lumberjacks, and gung-ho military types strutting their machismo.
Meanwhile, a slew of discerning male animals may be throw caution to the wind and surge ahead of the pack with wardrobe ensembles that tout the pampered peacock "look".
Three-piece suits are going to make a grand entrance, and they'll be sparked up with understated elegant accessories (rakish hats, butter-soft gloves, designer scarves that flap in the breeze) that scream "to the Manor born".
Patterns - fashioned in cashmere, velvet, and traditional flannels (updated to pop) - will run the gamut from plaid and wide chalk stripes to reinvented hounds-tooth stand-outs.
Self-respecting dudes - who savor comfort and style - will be springing for high-end footwear that also underscores and draws attentio to their signature style (high-tops, low-tops, snazzy designer runners, you name it).
When it comes to outerwear, confident men-about-town will be trying their hand at mixing-and-matching, especially when it comes to sweaters, vests, and versatile windbreakers and luxurious pricey topcoats.
In fact, sweaters (pull-overs, zip-ups, cardigans with eye-catching ribbing and other fashion flourishes) will surge forward into the limelight in all their glory.
It's all in the details, after all, when it comes to putting one's best fashion-foot forward.
In the final analysis?
It's style - not the clothes - that make the man.
This year, as the modern man boldly goes where he has never gone before, he will take his rightful place as King.
It's a jungle out there, after all.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
WeHo residents will be dashing around the neighborhood this weekend - snapping up eye-catching party threads (such as gem-like shiny beads, exotic masks, and a feathered plume or two dipped in a wild riot of colors, you-name-it) - to don at the 2nd Annual West Hollywood Mardi Gras celebration on Fat Tuesday on February 24th!
Between Palm Avenue and San Vicente - in the back alley behind Trunks, 11, Revolver - the locals will be kicking up their heels to the beat of Hot Brazilian music from 7 p.m. 'til 2 a.m. in the morning.
Expect a lot of frivolity, tasty food, and a truckload of giveaway prizes at this New Orleans-styled block party where folks will be hot-to-trot into the wee hours of dawn.
See 'ya there!