Archive | Film Matters

Of Homographic Utopias and Dowager Chic (The Sound Inside, Terminator: Dark Fate)

Critic drag with co-panelist Jack Rico.

Yesterday was kind of brilliant. The boys and I taped an episode of Talking Pictures, and for the first time since the show migrated from Spectrum to PBS achieved the right balance of jocularity and specificity. Which is to say: I got my points across with some style and minimal manterruption, and we all laughed a lot.

Link to come shortly.

Afterward I had enough cash in my pocket to eat out properly, so I joined up with my friend Little Lisa. In generosity of spirit and strength of mind she is no way little, but as we share a first name and I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood where people of the same name are distinguished by the prefix “Big” or “Little,” Little Lisa she is. To be fair, LL is 7 inches shorter than me and a good 16 years younger.

Big of heart, though, believe me.

Once upon a time we worked together at NY1–she was often the only other broad in the studio when I was on set–but these days she’s a fancy lady producer at a major network and I’m, well–that’s a good question. What am I right now? Continue Reading →

Change the Record, Change Your Life

I woke wanting to listen to Aretha. No big surprise there, though I haven’t been listening to my queen lately; it’s still too painful. What I really wanted to hear was new music by her, but this is no small feat when you’ve been obsessed with a now-deceased singer since you were a child.

It was a desire sparked by seeing Malcolm X at BAM last Saturday. It’d been so swampy that weekend, and R and I had been casting about for something to do that would diffuse the intense awkwardness of feeling like strangers after having been lovers for years and then not speaking for years after that. So it wasn’t just the prospect of seeing the Spike Lee biopic on a big screen that had dragged us three neighborhoods from our own as temperatures climbed into the 100s. We’d had to balance the prospect of sitting in pools of our drying sweat against the promise of a hefty distraction, and the latter had won.

The joint was packed, and not just because of that AC. Everyone in attendance was agog over the choreography and catharsis and craftsmanship and charisma and certitude. This was a 3.5-hour film, yet there was none of that BS chatter and smartphone-checking you find these days at a public screening. In the last 10 minutes, the late, great Ossie Davis delivered his eulogy for Malcolm, and all around me people sat silent except for the occasional nose-honking.

Over the credits sailed an Aretha recording I’d never heard before: “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

Until the last credit R and I sat still. At the beginning of the film he’d reached for my hand and I’d been stiff, like a child afraid to disappoint a needy elder. Always sensitive to rejection, he’d dropped it after a bit and I’d forced myself not to soothe his ruffled feathers by reaching back. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t initiate any physical contact I didn’t desire. He’d done that enough for us both. Continue Reading →

Taxi Driven at 3 Am

I went to bed so early last night that I was up at 3am watching Taxi Driver, quel meta. One of my first memories is of passing through that ratchet Times Square with my parents; the littlest me fell for its underbelly the way you get hung up on a bad smell. Scorcese captures its neon reds and blues, blurred and bolting–its cheap calories and cheaper sex–with Cadillac cars and a Cadillac score. And then there’s De Niro’s ex-marine outsider wandering and wondering, blood-shot with an ignoramus’s bravado. Which is to say: terror, especially when it comes to his unamused muse Cybill Shepherd and her very fine, DVF-clad ass. So loosely adapted from Dostovesky’s Notes from the Underground, this Scorcese-Schrader collab doesn’t endorse the basest attitudes about race, women, sexuality so much as inventory them as evidence of Our General Decline. It’s a portrait of a dangerously white male that could be stripped from today’s headlines except the macro-aggression isn’t just garish. It’s gorgeous.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy