Thursday, December 31, 2009

the coen brothers-new directors inspired by old films

I have recently found myself in love with the Coen Brothers, a directing duo with an unmistakable and original style. What really endears me to some new filmmakers is their clear love of film and utilization of it in their work. As it is with Woody Allen, so it is with the Coen Brothers. 

I recently watched The Hudsucker Proxy starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Newman, with appearances by Coen Brothers favorites John Mahoney, Steve Buscemi and John Goodman. It is the story of Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), an every man who comes to New York City hoping to make it big as a businessman with a great idea for an invention which I won't reveal. The only thing I"ll say is "you know, for the kids." The President of Hudsucker Industries, a prominent NY business decides to jump out of a window leaving the board in a quandary. Their solution? Hire a complete idiot to run their company so that the stocks drop and they can buy everything back on the cheap, then make mega millions once he is removed. Fast talking dame and pulitzer prize winning newspaper woman  Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) connives her way into a job at Hudsucker to get the real scoop on Norville, portraying him as an absolute moron to the public. She discovers what is really going on behind the scenes at Hudsucker, but also discovers that she has fallen in love with Norville.

This film is more or less a conglomeration of practically every film Frank Capra ever made both in plot and in some of the shots. Norville is Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart in one package, while Amy Archer is Barbara Stanwyck meets Jean Arthur with some fast talking Rosalind Russell thrown in. 

Norville's fall from grace versus...

Long John Willoughby's in Meet John Doe

Norville is pronounced insane versus...

The trial in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

As a great fan of Frank Capra I had a lot of fun with this film. It isn't one of the Coen's best, nor does it beat the classics it references (Jennifer Jason Leigh has the speech patterns and movements of a fast talking 30s career dame down pat but lacks the inner fire smoldering beneath the tough exterior that Stanwyck and Arthur possessed) but this film is worth it for the revelation of Norville's invention and a fun way to pass the time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

things i've learned in the past five minutes about two very different kellys

  1. Gene Kelly wore a toupe???

  2. Oh Gene, you still have the best smile any side of the Mississippi and I'm proud to attend the same University you did, this will just take me a second to get used to. Please don't hold it against me.

  3. There is footage of Grace Kelly in her casket??
In the immortal words of Stephanie on Full House, HOW RUDE. And more importantly how disrespectful. I hate coming across star in casket pictures or anyone famous really (Abraham Lincoln, anything in Hollywood Babylon) so if anyone knows which documentaries this footage appears in I would appreciate it so that I don't watch it. I'm not exactly Grace Kelly's biggest fan but this always makes me angry.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

love affair original program (and happy holidays!)

For me the world of online buying is still something exotic, a tangled web I don't care to get lost in. I've never bought anything off of ebay because I've always been too afraid that I'd become like one of those home shopping network addicts that starts compulsively buying until I have 5000 vintage magnets that I don't really need. As such I've never had many options in terms of buying memorabilia. One of the reasons that London is/was so wonderful is that I was able to actually go to bookstores and stalls that sold some wonderful old things where I could tangibly see the money pass from my hand to theirs and touch what you cannot touch on a website.

One of the wonderful things I bought is an edition of Cinegram, one of London's film magazines devoted to the 1939 film Love Affair starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It's kind of falling apart in my hands but I fell in love with it because I think the montage of images is just lovely and it also features a few write ups on its stars that are quite fun.

All images are clickable. Enjoy!

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

oh the weather outside is frightful

The great thing about a blizzard is that it provides the perfect opportunity to snuggle under many layers of quilts, catch up on my movie watching and make a dent in the 300 tea bags I brought home from Britain. I even have some corn for popping.

It also gives me an excuse to post clips from White Christmas.

I would make a list of my favorite holiday films but they have all been aptly covered from Christmas classics such as It's A Wonderful Life, The Shop Around The Corner and White Christmas to lesser known gems Christmas in Connecticut, The Bishop's Wife, Christmas in July and Remember the Night. You kids keep me creative.

Though I have been absent from the bloggersphere, I have found other outlets for sharing my love of the old and too oft forgotten. Over the fall semester I worked for a company called Raindance Film which is devoted to assisting independent filmmakers and a demystification of the industry. They post a weekly newsletter with tips and tricks of the trade, including a few articles I have written on film casting, twitter tips, etc. My favorite section is called amnesia, a category devoted to forgotten films that deserve a second look. A love of all things old made me a perfect candidate to write such articles, and I have become their resident "amnesia expert" a title I wear very proudly. Here are a few of my pieces that may be of interest:

(/shameless promotion)

Fail of the day goes to the weather channel. In an attempt to link our current snowy state to the year 1922, the last time we have seen a storm of such magnitude, they painted this bygone era as a time before bubble gum, car radios and the year the jazz singer was released. I think we need a fact check on aisle 3.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a return to blogging!

Hello lovely blogger friends! I have returned from my four month European adventure exhausted but far better for the experience.

For right now I leave you with this picture I took of Hitchcock's former flat at 153 Cromwell Road where he lived from 1926-1939. Though situated along a posh street in Kensington nestled between white columned elegance, the spirit of the former master of suspense still casts a special spell over the building. You can almost see Norman Bates' mother peeking through a window.

See the Hitchcock's at home here