Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kushner honored; Music Box success; and some actual Opinions of Movies and Books Sprinkled Throughout

My poor abandoned bloggy! Not to mention my poor readers, if I have any left. Well, you can see why I don't have pets. A month and no love. Let's just say by daytime life got more interesting in the last month. And now, all the stuff I've been squirreling away to blog about - and some of this stuff is, erm, a bit old, obviously. But still interesting, I hope:

Tony Kushner is the first recipient of a $200,000 theater prize, the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. Pinch me, I must be hallucinating: what is this unfamiliar pleasant sensation I just got reading the news? And maybe now Mr. Kushner will be inspired to write us some more work for the stage? Speaking of which, I'm psyched to see the Chicago premiere of Caroline, or Change at Court Theatre next week.

One of the biggest (upbeat) film stories of the summer has been the sleeper success of our own local Music Box's distribution of Tell No One. (See it, it's excellent - and, miraculously, still in theaters with no dvd street date announced.) And the Trib reported they plan to expand by buying more theaters locally. Cool. I've been thinking for years that the powers that be haven't been getting behind enough of the more accessible, mainstream-friendly foreign films (thereby making money to distribute more challenging fare), so I'm glad to see MB hit this one out of the park.

But I was sad to learn that: "Red Envelope gets pink slip." Apparently Red Env hadn't quite figured the game out. I hope they try again when the economy bounces back.

Crochet a Cthulhu! People rock. 'nuff said.

This year everyone's kvetching about the "glut" of films this year, but I believe the real problem is quality. Most 2008 films have been mediocre, at best. I still tend to believe that excellent films (the more accessible ones, anyway) will still find distributed. For now, anyway. (Though I was disturbed that Love Songs went straight to dvd without playing on Chicago screens. Boo.)

Roger Ebert on one of those questions people always ask critics: what's your favorite movie?

George Orwell, blogger.

Terry Teachout with yet another interesting observation (why didn't I start reading this guy years ago?): "Today's literary critics have fallen into the unfortunate habit of using the word "voice" when they mean 'style.'"

The Top Ten Graphic Novels.

Paul Collins on the folios as bad theft targets.

Confessions of a Strunkaholic.

A death that didn't get much notice.

RFK Jr. is especially creeped out to discover a fascist quoted in She-who-shall-not-be-named's convention speech. (For more, read the invaluable Frank Rich.)

Ben Burtt of Wall-e has long been one of my heroes for his sound design of the Star Wars movies (their single best feature, imho), and it's been so nice to see him get some spotlight treatment with the most recent success. [OK, this stuff is from way back in mid-summer, but tough titties. I love Ben Burtt.]

Interesting tidbit re: the Edward affair that made headlines so long ago now:
There's a literary angle to the story of former Senator John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter. Hunter was once known as Lisa Druck, who in the 1980s was, shall we say, active on the party circuit in Manhattan . During that time, Jay McInerney was her boyfriend for at least a few months. He said later, "I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, whose behavior intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience." The book is Story of My Life..., first published in 1988. The Druck/Hunter character is Alison Poole.

In yesterday's New York Times, Maureen Dowd commented: "When you appall Jay McInerney, you know you're in trouble."

In a recent timely ad, Facets recently highlighted the work of a renowned Georgian filmmaker, Otar Iosseliani.

Ooh, Hollywood, beware: A book can be just as disgusting as a movie.

You mean the "If Day" mentioned in Guy Maddin's brilliant My Winnipeg was real? Even better.

If you're interested in Chabon's book Maps and Legends which I recently read and enjoyed, this interview gives a good idea of the highlights.

A friend with an Oprah-like frame of mind sent me this semi-interesting article, "How to Live With Just 100 Things"

Jonathan Franzen is just downright nasty about Michiko Kakutani. (But then, many people are. Myself, I'm starting to pay closer attention to see what all the bitching's about.) A paragraph here (look for her name near the bottom) led me to Franzen's comments on Kakutani and some interesting thoughts on e-reading. I was also rather taken aback by some nasty things he says about Philip Roth (though he also gives him some muted praise, to be fair). I'm a recent convert to Roth and have so much catching up to do it's unbelievable, and I'm nowhere near ready to accept such an extreme verdict of him. By the way, I enjoyed but only mildly recommend Roth's latest Indignation. I surprisingly loved the movie Elegy, however, which is based on his The Dying Animal. I saw Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona (a rare treat from Allen*) on a Saturday and then saw her the next day in Elegy. Cruz was stunning in both. Why is it that her fire doesn't export when she travels to Hollywood, I wonder? Ah, who cares. When she works in Spain she is amazing.

The new MySpace jukebox sounds like a hopeful idea. I'm sick of seeing my favorite artists get discouraged as their excellent work gets them increasingly smaller paychecks. Could this help?

Fellow bloggers, a nerdy design tool I just read about: Colorblind Web Page Filter

Albert Hammond...Sr.? I'd never thought about it, but I recently came across him randomly during a search.

Thoughtful: "10 Ways to Become a Better Film Critic" by Evan Derrick

Hmm, more movie opinions. Frozen River: overrated, just ok. The Pool: pleasant, watchable, briefly snooze-inducing. (Literally. I heard snores behind me as I got drowsy.)

*[A footnote, in honor of the horrifically departed David Foster Wallace, whose work I'd only just read for the first time and was hugely looking forward to seeing what he'd do next! The book I read, btw, was Consider the Lobster, a collection of articles/essays which I highly highly recommend] Allen's VCB is a typical Woody Allen affair, storywise, pathetic if you look at it from a certain pov, but through some magic I haven't quite been able to isolate, it's one of his most enjoyable films of all time. See it.


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