Sunday, March 30, 2008

Face Time #41 (We've met before. Haven't we.)

It is not my custom to go where I am not wanted.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Famous Last Words- Round 2, Week 12

OK folks, final week of the game, following a paltry turnout for last week's admittedly tough quote from Nosferatu the Vampyre. Let's see if you all can't go out on a positive note for the round. I honestly hope you can, because if not this could end up going into sudden-death overtime, and I haven't come up with how that'll work yet. Anyway, the quote:

“Oh, you don’t know how good it is to hear my family laughing again. You know, for a while there I was really worried.”

So if you know it, don't be shy- submit your guess to this e-Mail address no later than 11:59 Eastern on Wednesday. Good luck, and check back next week to see if a winner has been determined.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Belated Introduction, in List Form

Ever since I started writing for The Screengrab a little over a year ago, I've struggled to maintain a balance between my contributions there and the pieces I post here. At first, most of my energies were devoted to proving myself to my former editor Bilge Ebiri and the Screengrab readers, so my posting here went on the back burner. However, since the beginning of this year, things have begun to swing the other way.

Ironically, I think a lot of this has to do with the larger number of posts I'm expected to write for Screengrab nowadays. You'd think that the increased productivity would leave little room for my own blog, but you would be mistaken. Strange thing- now that I'm being asked to write more, I'm unable to post with the sort of depth and passion I once did when I wasn't contributing nearly as much. Sure, I still write some longer posts, but it's hard to stay inspired when I have to meet a quota of 10 per week. There's also the issue of sticking to the Screengrab format, which is fairly loose, but at the same time I can't just post any little thing. Pretty much everything I post over there has to be apropos of something or other, whether it's part of a regular feature or connected to a recent release or news item. I'm not complaining, mind you- I especially love the increased visibility I get from Screengrab- but it's something that weighs heavily on my mind at times.

I have no such concerns over here. I'm running the show, so I can post as I see fit. I may not write as much for this blog, but that frees me to write about things I feel passionate about, rather than simply to make money. More and more, I find that for all the work I do on Screengrab, I'm proudest of my contributions here, because they're much closer to my own sensibility, unmediated by someone else's format.

So for those relative newcomers who are curious as to what I'm all about as a writer, here's a list of five Screengrab pieces I've written since I joined the staff, and five posts from this blog from the same period, all of which I feel a special affection for in some way or other. I've listed them in rough order of preference, on the basis of how proud I am of them. Enjoy.

For Screengrab:

1. "A Stroll Through Jim Henson's Legacy" (19 March 2007)- I wrote this in response to a touring Henson retrospective that came to the Wexner Center last spring. My friend Chris, an assistant film/video curator at the Wex, informed me later that he forwarded the piece to the Henson Foundation, where it was well-received. But the real reason I'm particularly fond of my Henson piece is because it finally allowed me to connect with my mother through my writing. My mother has never been a big movie buff, but she's always loved the Muppets, and I was happy to finally have a chance to write something she would enjoy.

2. "Forgotten Films: Privilege (1967, Peter Watkins)" (2 April 2007)- I wrote this piece a little more than a month after I joined the Screengrab team, and nearly a year later, I believe it's still the piece that's gotten the most attention from the movie blogosphere. In a way, the Privilege piece is a microcosm of what draws me to write about film- the opportunity to view unique and special works and then commend other moviegoers to see them as well. If they can, that is, although a Privilege DVD is supposedly in the works.

3. "The Movie Moment: Cries and Whispers" (3 August 2007)- the month or so after Bilge stepped down from the Screengrab editor spot and Peter Smith took over was a tense time for me. I was worried about how I would fit into the new guy's vision of the site (which was somewhat more populist), and one of the big changes for me was that I had to sweat word counts for the first time. In particular, my first few Movie Moment pieces after the regime change bears the marks of heavy editing, both on my part and Peter's. It wasn't until this piece, which doubled as a remembrance of one of my filmmaking idols, that I was able to find my groove again. I think the fact that it was Bergman allowed me to focus my writing in a way I couldn't have done with filmmakers to whom I wasn't so close. The result, I think, was a fitting tribute to a major figure in my moviegoing life.

4. "The Movie Moment: La Belle Noiseuse" (26 April 2007)- I've sometimes made the joke that "writing would be so much better if I didn't have to actually write." On the one hand, it comes off as a non sequitur a la Yogi Berra, but there's a grain of truth to it. I love to create, but the actual writing can be difficult and even torturous, like trying to squeeze toothpaste from an empty tube. One major exception for me was my Movie Moment piece on this Rivette masterwork. I sometimes tie myself in knots just trying to think of a suitable subject for my Movie Moment pieces, but this time it just dawned on me while I was watching the film. As the scene transpired, I reached for my pen and a sheet of paper and wrote down exactly one note (the line "you get stuck inside of what you’re searching for") then let the piece brew in my head as the film kept going. Then I went home and wrote the piece in roughly 45 minutes, which for me is unheard of. If only it always went this smoothly, I could maybe even finish my screenplay.

5. "The Most Unnecessary Sequels of All Time: Alien Resurrection" (21 June 2007)- I've always had a hard time writing funny. So while I always try to contribute to Screengrab's weekly lists, I tend to fear that my contributions are a little too light on the comedy to fit in with the others. However, I've been able to sneak in the occasional bon mot amid the film-nerdy stuff, and my favorite is still my piece on the gratuitousness and overall suckitude of the fourth Alien film. Now, I'm not usually one to laugh at my own jokes, but I still can't believe I came up with this line: "If Alien³ was beating a dead horse, then Alien: Resurrection was like molding the pulverized horse meat back into a pretty horsey shape, then beating it some more."

For Silly Hats Only:

1. "The Quiet Man in the Easy Chair" (2 Feb 2008)- I normally confine my writing to film-related subjects, but the death of my grandfather was too important not to mention, and I'm happy that I was able to do so in this forum. Thanks again to everyone for their kind sentiments.

2. Muriel Awards 2007 (Feb 2008)- Cheating here, but what the hell. The first year of the Muriels was a blast, but this year was when I felt the Muriels really made their mark. Rather than just a group of people voting for movies they liked and occasionally writing something about them, it became a full-on multi-blog collaboration, and this was Muriels Central. My gratitude to everyone who was able to participate this year, be it as a voter, a writer, or simply plugging the awards on your own sites. I'm already looking forward to next year's Muriels.

3. "The Movies of My Life #3" (22 March 2008)- Too soon? Maybe by some people's standards, but I think that this piece, occasioned by a viewing of 2001 after Arthur C. Clarke's death, is the closest I've come yet to summing up what I really value about Web-based film writing. More than anything I've written here thusfar, I think this post strikes the perfect balance between the personal and the film-nerdy, a goal to which I frequently aspire here but almost never achieve.

4. "gravida (2007, Lucas McNelly)" (8 August 2007)- Even with my Screengrab writing, I'm a little stunned when others refer to me as an honest-to-goodness critic. So I was both taken aback and extremely honored when Lucas, a first-year Muriels voter, asked me to write a review of his latest short film. As someone who struggled for years without success to get a short film project off the ground, I have respect for anyone who is able to see his vision through despite a highly competitive and often hostile environment. That the short turned out to be really damn good only helped matters- Lucas is the sort of filmmaker I would want to spotlight even if I didn't know him, and now that gravida is slowly gaining a fan base, I'm proud to have been involved with the film from a fairly early phase.

5. "Cinema Is a Bird, or Something" (24 April 2008)- As I said before, writing can be a struggle for me, and often I find that I'm too busy hunting for just the right words to be especially self-conscious about my own thinking and/or writing processes. It took a somewhat awkward Q&A with filmmaker Ernie Gehr to help me really nail down my own feelings, first in my mind and then on the page. Enjoy it folks, because it will probably the closest I'll ever get to penning my own statement of purpose as a movie lover.

Famous Last Words- Round 2, Week 11

Source of last week's quote: A Hard Day's Night! Good job, everyone who got it.

This week's quote: "Seal this room for official investigation. And bring me my horse. I have much to do. Now!"

Your quest: to identify the quote.
Deadline: next Wednesday, 11:59 PM Eastern.
Where to submit guesses: this e-Mail address.

Good luck!

The Movies of My Life #3

Note: I hadn't intended to post a third "Movies of My Life" piece so soon, but the recent passing of Arthur C. Clarke prompted me to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey yet again. However, I feel woefully underqualified to eulogize Clarke, not having read any of his work other than The Sentinel, the short story that inspired Kubrick's film. So instead of trying, I'd like to instead post my thoughts about the film itself. My apologies, Mr. Clarke, and rest in peace.

When I was 5 or 6, I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. This being in the couple of years prior to the Challenger disaster, I would always try to watch whenever the Space Shuttle liftoffs were televised. But what really captured my imagination were the children's books about space. I couldn't tell you the titles, but I do remember seeing the pictures of space stations and rocket ships and colonies on the moon, and my heart jumped in excitement. It blew my mind that there was another world out there besides our own. What I didn't know at the time was that these books were fantasy- I assumed that since there were other planets in the universe, we lived on them much in the same way we did on Earth. But fantasy or not, it mattered little- I wanted to go into space.

Eventually, that dream gave way to other lofty, short-lived dreams, which in turn gave way to much less ambitious ones. In the meantime, I watched movies, some of which were science fiction. It wasn't until my 8th grade year that I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey on video, and after that first viewing I didn't like it all that well. But of course I didn't- having grown up on Star Wars and Star Trek had given me concrete ideas of what science fiction was, and 2001 didn't fit the bill. It was too slow, too quiet, and the last twenty minutes lost me altogether. I would imagine that it's this way for most people who see 2001 for the first time.

Yet there was something indeniably impressive about the movie. First off, the effects were mindblowing- I had a hard time believing the movie was made nearly a decade before Star Wars. And several sequences worked very well for me, particularly the first post-intermission sequence in which HAL takes his revenge. My respect for the film grew over time, and when I finally was able to see it again- on the big screen this time- I wondered how I could have missed so much the first time around. No longer an inaccessible piece of Art, it was now an object of endless fascination.

2001 is practically unique among Hollywood films in that it doesn't merely benefit from multiple viewings, but requires them. Kubrick famously challenged Arthur C. Clarke to help him make the proverbial "good science fiction film", and the big reason why the film can be so hard to digest on the first go-round is because it becomes so easy to get hung up on what 2001 isn't to appreciate what it is. It isn't until we've had our palates cleansed, so to speak, that we can finally approach it afresh.

Since then, I've seen the movie more than just about any other, watching it at least once a year on VHS or, later, DVD, and catching it on the big screen every time it comes to town. One reason why it holds up so well is because Kubrick refuses to pin down the story to any single discernible theme. Over the years, I've viewed the film through the prisms of various pet theories, usually of my own formulation. For example, I remember a time during my college years when I was obsessed with the idea that the entire Jupiter mission was a birth metaphor, with the Discovery being a penis, the "time slot" a vagina, and the hotel room the uterus. I remember being especially proud of myself for coming up with this without any help, as if the fact that the film ends with the birth of the Star Child wasn't clue enough for me to figure it out.

When I watched the film again tonight, what really stuck out this time was Kubrick's use of horizontal and vertical axes in the film. Time and again Kubrick portrays the characters' humdrum behavior on a horizontal plan, from the pre-humans in the Dawn of Man sequence scurrying back and forth, to the way Kubrick frames Frank as he jugs around the crew quarters as the camera pans laterally. Even the frame itself- the film is shot in Panavision and Cinerama- accentuates the horizontal plane.

Whenever an object is completely vertical in the frame, it breaks this comfortable plane and points the way into the great unknown. When the pre-humans first discover the monolith, it stands to defiantly against the landscape that they can't help but be in awe. Hell, it points in such an unfamiliar direction that the top of the monolith is above the top of the frame. Throughout the film, true progress is represented by vertical movement or positioning of an object. This is as true at the beginning of the film (the moon rises over the Earth then the sun rises over the moon) as it is at the end. Consider that the Dave's final act before becoming the Star Child is raising his hand and pointing upward.

Through this technique and many others, Kubrick jolts viewers out of their lazy viewing patters, and one of the common motifs of the movie is the way its human characters too must be shocked out their complacent behavior. One thing that always amuses me when I see 2001 is how nonchalant so many of the characters are about space travel. There's a short scene aboard a moon shuttle in which Dr. Floyd and some of his colleagues are discussing a newly-discovered monolith on the moon. Here are three guys talking about one of the most monumental discoveries in human history- one which by all available evidence "appears to have been deliberately buried" (!)- and they act like it's no big deal. They seem just as concerned with the quality of the sandwiches that were packed for them, and indeed one of the scientists interrupts the discussion to go get some coffee. Then there's the scene when the scientists see the moon monolith for themselves- their first impulse is to pull out the camera and pose for photographs like they're sightseeing. But the monolith won't be ignored, emitting a loud radio shriek that shocks not only the scientists but the audience as well.

2001 comes as close to the idea of "pure cinema" as any movie I've ever seen. Kubrick doesn't do away with dialogue completely, but it's purely functional and meant to help along the human story. Yet it eventually becomes clear that the human story in 2001 is fairly insignificant. If there's a character arc in the film, it's doesn't belong to any one person (or tangible intelligent entity) but to mankind itself, as we see the human race ascend from the apes, and later to help create a new, still more advanced, type of being. All the while we're guided "onward and upward" into the unknown by something larger than us- call it an advanced intelligence or even God- which calls us into space before pulling us, in the film's words, "beyond the infinite."

Truly visionary art has always served much the same purposes as Kubrick's monoliths- to show us the way. Yet I can't help but think of my own fantasies of space flight, which have long since given way to my current great love of cinema. As passionately as I love film, I nonetheless miss the days when I could freely dream without worrying how unrealistic such dreams were. I also worry that as art becomes capable of showing us practically anything, that more people will use it less to facilitate their own dreams than as a means to live vicariously through the dreams of others. After all, the year 2001 has come and gone, and the space station isn't even finished, to say nothing of lunar colonies and manned interplanetary exploration. Is it enough for us to view a big-as-life simulation of something wondrous rather than trying to experience it ourselves? Must we wait to be jolted out of our tiny lives before we see how much more awaits us?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Famous Last Words- Round 2, Week 10

Last week's quote was from William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. Way to go, people who got it.

This week brings us another twofer:

“Come on, you’re hanging up the parade!”
“Get rid of those things!”

Name the film. Remember, all submissions must be received by this e-Mail address no later than 11:59 PM Eastern on Wednesday. Good luck!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Join us now and live in peace.

Despite their recent troubles, the Drexel Theatres have gone ahead with this year's 25th Annual Ohio 24-Hour Science Fiction Marathon, and right on schedule- from noon on Saturday, April 19th, until noon on Sunday the 20th. I had feared that the move to the Drexel East would have forced Marathon paterfamilias Bruce Bartoo to scale back the proceedings to twelve hours like they've had to do with October's horror marathons, but happily this isn't the case. In fact, they actually wrangled a guest this year, for the first time in a while. The guest of honor?

None other than Academy Award™-winning actress Patricia Neal. Neal will be at the Drexel on Friday the 18th to help the Drexel celebrate its 70th Anniversary, and she's graciously agreed to stick around an extra day to appear at the Sci-Fi Marathon and no doubt be bombarded by questions about Marathon favorite The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Now, I realize that Neal isn't as young as she once was, and the Marathon has had some trouble with other elderly guests they've booked, as when Kevin McCarthy had to cancel at the last minute due to illness a few years back. But considering that Neal is already confirmed for the Drexel shindig the previous night, I'm pretty sure her Marathon gig will stick as well.

Along with The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bruce has confirmed four titles thusfar: the fifties rarity Stranger From Venus (also starring Neal), the AIP crapsterpiece Journey to the Seventh Planet, John Hurt and Richard Burton in 1984, and the Indonesian ripoff Lady Terminator. If that lineup doesn't exactly blow your hair back, bear in mind that the eccentricities of booking often leads to the more high-profile titles not being locked down until later in the game.

No matter- consider my ticket bought. If you're down too, tickets for the marathon- which has been named "Journey to the Seventh Theatre"- are currently on sale at the Drexel Theatres, and other options for buying can be found at the official Marathon site. Bruce and company are also putting on a "Halfathon" from midnight until noon, although I can't imagine that doing nearly as well- not simply because Neal won't be at that one, but also because SF geeks are a proud bunch who wouldn't be caught dead in a 12-hour marathon when a full-on 24-hour one was in the auditorium just next door.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Movies of My Life #2

We all have movies we love, and movies to which we feel a particular closeness. Most of these movies are legitimately great, but our love for them transcends quality. Sometimes, these movies are widely loved, and as such they become a common currency among all those who love them. Such was the case with the subject of my first "Movies of My Life" column back in December, Back to the Future. However, it's not like this for all the movies we love. Occasionally, we feel close to movies that no one else seems to love as much as we do, or at least no one we know. For me, the best example of this is François Ozon's 2002 film, 8 Women.

I first read about the film in early 2002 in Film Comment. I had been a fan of Ozon's film Under the Sand previously, but my interest in the film was only mildly due to his involvement. Much more of a factor for me was the film's cast, a veritable who's-who of French leading ladies- Danielle Darrieux, Isabelle Huppert, Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Béart, and particularly Catherine Deneuve, who was my favorite then as now. In the months leading up to the film, I read up on it as much as I could, and occasionally checked out reviews of the film- carefully though, so I wouldn't spoil my first viewing. The film's reception was fairly warm overall, although high marks from the notoriously tough Mike D'Angelo gave me a lot of hope.

As the film's U.S. release drew closer, I remember talking about 8 Women to all of my friends, and when I did this I noticed that they didn't share my enthusiasm for it. They sometimes concurred that it could be good, but they really weren't all that excited to see it. But while I was a little taken aback by their apathy, I wasn't about to let them bring me down. I signed off work on the Friday it was getting released here. I asked the manager of the local arthouse if I could have the one-sheet once they'd finished with it. Hell, in the week before the movie's local release I tried to watch one movie by each of 8 Women's leading ladies. I almost succeeded too, but for my inability to find anything with Firmine Richard, but I still remember the other movies I watched that week- Merci Pour le Chocolat (Huppert), Nelly et M. Arnaud (Béart), Confidentially Yours (Ardant), La Ronde (Darrieux), A Single Girl (Virginie Ledoyen), Water Drops on Burning Rocks (Ludivine Sagnier), and of course Belle de Jour (Deneuve). As far as I was concerned, 8 Women was destined to be awesome.

And do you know what? It was. I was practically the only one in the theatre on the Friday afternoon in mid-December when I first saw 8 Women, but I didn't care one bit. The movie was as I'd imagined it, only better. Every song was a joy, every delicious turn of the plot a pleasure, and the melancholy final scene nearly did me in. When I walked out of the auditorium after the end credits rolled, I knew there was only one thing to do. I walked right up to the box office and bought a ticket to the next show, something I was prone to doing occasionally in those days, back when I had time for it. So began my 8 Women-fueled high, and all told, I saw 8 Women four times in the week and a half it played in Columbus, and would no doubt have seen it many more times had I gotten the chance.

At the same time, the apathy I'd sensed from those I'd spoken with about the film prior to its release had infected the local press. The critic for the Columbus Dispatch gave it a respectful three-star review, but others weren't so kind. A snarky-ass article (I wouldn't even call it a review) in The Other Paper dismissed it as "a movie for and about drag queens" and spent much of the allotted word count discussing the viability of a Hollywood remake, as if it was Three Men and a Cradle or something. I began to wonder how they could miss the delights I'd seen in the film, nearly all of which had presented themselves to me on that first viewing.

So I did the first thing that came to mind- I wrote about 8 Women, again and again. I toyed with the idea of dashing off a tirade about shitty alt-weekly critics who care more about getting laughs from their readers than they do about giving films a fair shake (still a topic worth considering, mind you), but I decided against it. Instead, I threw my energy into writing about the film itself, not just my original review of the film itself, but tributes/mash notes to both Huppert and Sagnier, as well as shorter odes to the film on every top 10 list I had I chance to contribute for the year. All told, I'd say I wrote as much about 8 Women as I've written about any movie I've seen, before or since. And in the process, my love for the film became almost possessive, as though it was practically "my movie."

Then a funny thing happened- for a few years, I became anxious about revisiting the film. For whatever reason, I imagined that my love for the film had been all out of proportion with its actual quality, that maybe my desire for it to be awesome caused me to see the film with hopeful, enthusiastic eyes, and that in the process I lost my ability to see it objectively. Could it be that the naysayers were- gasp- right after all?

Finally, I decided just to watch the film again, to put my anxieties to rest. And I'll be damned if the movie wasn't as great as it had ever been. Watching it with new eyes was a strange yet wonderful experience for me. That initial rush was gone, but if anything the increased objectivity had given me a greater respect for what the film was doing (compare the gushing tone of my original review to the Movie Moment column I devoted to the film last March). At the same time, I was better able to see why not everyone shared my love for the film. For me, it's irresistible, but it's also a strange creature, a blissed-out mashup of Agatha Christie and dinner-theatre production numbers. It's got plenty to groove on for both francophiles and actressexuals, but it's also clearly not for everyone.

And do you know what? I'm OK with that. Some movies are made more or less for everyone, and others only for those who are on the film's wavelength. I still hope for the day when I meet other people with whom I can quote dialogue or who will pick up on when I'm humming "Papa t'es Plus Dans l'Coup" or "A Quoi Sert le Vivre Libre." But such things are incidental to how I feel about the movie. Whether others share my love for it, 8 Women will always feel like my movie. And with the movies we love, isn't that what truly matters?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Famous Last Words- Round 2, Week 9

Last week's quote was from Chungking Express. Get it? Got it. Good.

Gonna keep it simple this week:

"You're working for me now."

You all know the drill. Guesses in by 11:59 next Wednesday, submit everything to this address. Good luck!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Self-Promote like a Champion Today

Normally, I'm not one to toot my own horn around here. After all, I figure all my readers enjoy what I do well enough or else they'd stop coming, so there's really no need to hard-sell them. However, it seems that the visibility of my blogs, and some of the writings that are associated with them, are at an all-time high. Not long ago, the Muriels, and by extension the blog, were spotlighted by Jim Emerson over at Scanners. Well, that's not the end of it. Two particularly cool recent developments have me pretty darned excited.

1. I'm not sure it's available online, but I was quoted in the March 2008 Wexner Center for the Arts calendar. More specifically, Wex Media Relations Coordinator quoted a mostly-forgotten post on Conquistador Instant Leprosy (still Pomegranate Rickey at the time, IIRC), in which I said that the Wexner Center was "invaluable to the cultural landscape of my life." The calendar is pretty widely distributed, getting mailed to thousands of people in the area, so this is some pretty darned good exposure. However, it's nothing compared to...

2. Yesterday, I received an e-Mail from blog bud Victor (who's been schooling the lot of you at quote-identifying games), informing me that the Muriels have finally truly hit the big-time. That's right- we got mentioned in an honest-to-goodness daily newspaper. More specifically, the Muriels' own Hedwig Van Driel was quoted in the March 5 edition of The Washington Times, in the Culture Briefs column. According to Victor, Culture Briefs features direct quotes on various aspects of culture taken from outside sources, and runs on page A2 of the paper. Moreover, Culture Briefs was recently singled out by President Bush as being his favorite part of the Times. So congrats to Hedwig for your particularly noteworthy contribution to the cause, and thanks to Victor for using his influence to get our scrappy little awards ceremony into a big-time publication. And, as always, thanks to all the Muriel voters who contributed to this year's awesome awards, and of course to all of my readers, regular or irregular, new or old. I appreciate you all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Movies Quotes Meme, Take 2 (updated 6 March 08)

I've done this meme already, but since Donna has it going over at her blog, I guess I'll do it again here as well. But first, the rules!

1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess (use the comments, if you please).
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and post the answer along with who guessed it.
5. No Googling or using IMDb search functions. You're on your honor.
6. One movie guess at a time. Give people a chance to guess before you steal all of the glory.

And now, the quotes, all taken from movies in my top 100 list. That's the only hint you're getting outta me, folks...

Updated 6 March: ... or so I'd thought, except that two of the quotes proved more troublesome than I'd originally anticipated. So I'll go ahead and give you a few hints to help with quotes #5 and #8:

a. Both of the films are in black and white.

b. The performer who delivered line #5 was nominated for an Oscar for the film in question.

As for #8, I believe you already have enough hints to get this one, provided your head's in the right place. If nobody guesses them by Saturday night, I'll go ahead and post the answers then.

1. This country's still growing up. Certain diseases, you're better off having when you're still young. Cerb Chaos snags this one, correctly guessing Once Upon a Time in America. Halfway there, folks.

2. Beware of good deeds. They cost far too much and leave a nasty smell. Victor strike again, with Smiles of a Summer Night.

3. I put every damn pipe in this neighborhood. People think that pipes grow in their homes. But they sure as hell don't! Look at my knees! Look at my knees! Longtime SLH friend Andrew nails it- Eraserhead.

4. Conscience is a nuisance. A fly. A barking dog. Erik swoops in to guess this quote, from The New World.

5. Well, whatever it is, I want it on the rocks, straight and dirty, because I feel very very bitchy tonight. Wrapping up the game is Cerb Chaos, identifying this vague Bette Davis-esque quote from John Cassavetes' Faces, and in the process taking us up over 20 comments, which if I recall correctly is a record in these here parts.

6. You ought to put handles on that skull. Maybe you could grow geraniums in it. Victor again, identifying The Lady Eve.

7. The silly bitch has fainted in the wrong scene! New arrival Ali swoops in and grabs this quote, from Peeping Tom. Welcome aboard Ali. Also, sorry Donna, this should have been yours, had you moved more quickly.

8. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite. I could practically see the light bulb over Andrew's head as he put together the black-and-white clue with the numerous mentions of William Blake in the comments section to this post. Right you are man, it's Dead Man.

9. Beauty of mine, sit before me. Let me peruse you and remember you... always like this. Victor again, identifying this deceptively romantic-sounding quote from Last Tango in Paris.

10. If you send for a doctor, I will see him now. Victor gets it on the first try- Truffaut's Two English Girls. Which you may recall was the inspiration for a certain world-famous guinea pig.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Muriels Postmortem

Well, that went about as well as could be expected. I just got done putting the finishing touches on the Official 2007 Muriel Awards Web Site, which includes not only the rankings by category but also a link to each voter's ballot. So if you're not all Muriel-ed out, check out who's to thank for choosing your favorites from 2007, and who's to blame for voting for your least favorites.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Muriels, in particular those who went the extra mile to contribute written pieces or even images to the cause. I'm also grateful to all who got the word out, both those who voted and those who didn't (thanks, Jim!). And of course, thanks to all of you for reading.

As for me, I'm off to play with Victoria and Charlotte. Muriel's gotten more than her share of attention this past month.

Famous Last Words- Round 2, Week 8

You may have noticed that I changed the quotation in my profile a month or so ago. While I sometimes like to change things up around here in the interest of keeping it fresh, this time there was an actual method to my madness. The reasoning behind the change was because I intended to post a Famous Last Words quote from Orson Welles' F for Fake (which I did last week), and I didn't think it would be a good idea to provide any unnecessary hints. I guess my plan worked out, since very few people actually guessed the quote correctly. Congrats to those who did.

Now for this week's quote, another twofer:

“Where do you want to go?”
“Wherever you want to take me.”

Easier? We'll find out soon enough. Submit your guesses to this e-Mail address. Remember, all submissions are due no later than 11:59 PM EST Wednesday. Good luck!