Tag Archives: movies

Some Dames

23 Dec

Off hand, I can’t think of anything that links them aside from their sex. Even their talents were in different departments…but this week, when not hitting the books like crazy sauce in biographical prep for a drama, I’ve been spending my down (and sick) time in between, resting my eyes and writer’s cramp on some other dames I know.

…Old friends and teachers all-three. I’ve no idea how I selected this particular stream of films to follow other than, I guess, the ladies were a tonic I needed at the time, and wrapping up my last day off in a row, with sniffles and coughs and general “ick” about, all I can say is, “what a way to go.”

Women who defied and yet defined their particular archetypes, in a swirling dervish of talent.

…One: classy and refined…cast primarily as the elegant English Rose, though she was more of a fiery Scot in actuality.
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The next: one of the top screwball gals who defined the genre as Frank Capra’s favorite Leading Lady, all the while hating both fame and publicity second only to Garbo, in the annals of Hollywood history.
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And last, but certainly not least: a blonde with a voice that could shatter glass, who made bank (and an Oscar) in the ditz market, though in reality was neither blonde nor dim-witted, but sported a cultured mezzo speaking voice, and a recorded IQ of 172.
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These: my playmates for the week, serving up many, many laughs (and some tears too, as needed.) Excellent sport, to watch them at work in their own dynamics with costars, seeing how they cater each role and relationship accordingly. If I’ve seen these movies once, I’ve seen ’em a thousand times. And how you know a performance and the artist doing it is good is: it never gets old. You wait for those best bits of dialogue and looks and interactions, like a kid waits for Christmas. And because it’s saved forever on film, the joy of it landing with perfection…every time…is a surefire guarantee.

…And hot damn but these dames were good at the game. Played the hell out of the stereotype they were prescribed to (as most were in those years in Hollywood), meanwhile managing somehow to one up the system at the same time.

Deborah Kerr owned the entire world of beautifully bone-structured, stately English wife and motherdom…until she decided to flip it the finger, drop the accent, bleach the red from her hair and role in the sand having extramarital sex onna beach, somehow stumping the censors so hard they let it pass…as surely if saintly Deborah Kerr does it, it can’t be immoral in any way…can it?

Listen: nothing is quite as twisted as her end scene in “The Innocents,” as tear-jerky as her pretending she missed the appointment on top of the Empire State building on purpose in “An Affair To Remember,” or as frustrating as her chaste love, refusing to deny her final vows to the novate in “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.” It’s true what they say about good girls, “when they are good, they’re good…but when they’re bad, they’re better.” Sometimes, you just need some, “From Here To Eternity.”

…And sometimes you need some Jean Arthur…who was virtually a ghost of a celebrity, hating everything to do with it, though one assumes, not the “acting” bit. She was said to refuse most PR responsibilities regardless of the contract, and suffered terrible stage fright, doubting her every choice and needing coaxing to go on often times. But when she was “on,” whatever she touched turned gold…helped greatly by the fact that people like Capra and Howard Hawks and George Stevens knew a good thing when they saw it. And put it up there with people like Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart.

…Awesome as her politically wry and pessimistic Saunders is in, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, ” and emotionally clobbered and confused in, “Only Angels Have Wings,” watching her navigate the physical requirement of fast-paced comedy like her Oscar-nom’d performance in, “The More The Merrier,” on a dime of precision that could stop just shy of a single bat of a wing before the butterfly effect…is fairly amazeballs. Especially knowing her confidence was at like zero, and yet she would still one day teach a class at Vassar, passing on that knowledge (through mind-waves I suppose) to none other than student Meryl Streep.

Finally, then comes my great binge for today: the brilliant blonde bombshell, Judy Holliday. “Bells Are Ringing,” “It Should Happen To You,” “Full of Life,” and “Pfft,” are choice…but nothing touches her “Born Yesterday.” How you know is: she won the Oscar fair and square…but in the only comedy competing in the biggest cinematic year in Hollywood history, since 1939…beating out veterans Bette Davis in “All About Eve,” and Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”

…She was 29 during filming, had nearly lost the role to every eligibly aged actress at the time, as though she had originated it on Broadway…they claimed she had no “star quality” to bank on. Even stranger twist of fate being, the role had been written for Jean Arthur, who in another fit of nerves, had pulled out just before it opened…leaving Judy three days to learn the role, cold. Not even having been an understudy.

…The show opened, as scheduled, and she would perform the role 1200 times, before finally landing the contract at Columbia, and giving a performance on film, so totally fresh and inventive…yet beat-perfect…that it slaughtered the acting competition in a year of diva-supremes.

Her particular “light” burned out far too soon, at 42, from cancer. But not before leaving several killer Comden and Green collaborations, a slew of Broadway performances, and a son behind. Not least of which, she was the only person to face the McCarthy hearings unscathed, beating him so coolly as to not name names or face blacklisting, by acting the part of the dumb blonde everyone still assumed she was, (and totally getting away with it.) Just beginning to finally break free of the stigma roles which made her a star, she had formed a plan, before a second battle with cancer, took her life.

…A sad ending, tragic for the loss of talent, and where else it might have shown. But then, much the same can be said of Jean Arthur’s early retirement after “Shane.”

Either way, I have them now. They belong to me and their performances, from grave to grinning, are glorious. It’s good to visit with old friends, and check in from time to time…and it had been too long. Sincerely glad to have had the chance (even if it cost me a cold) to meet up and check in again.

…The ol’ girls really hold up. They dont look as if they’ve aged even a single day. You should drop in on them sometime, yourself. 😉

– D

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So Meta

15 Apr

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So I’m watching film about actors in the  theatre…which is like my favorite thing.

…You know: “All About Eve,” “Bullet’s Over Broadway,” Being Julia, ” “Noises Off,” “A Midwinters Tale,” “Somewhere In Time,” “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “Curtain Call, ” Stage Fright,” “Tootsie,” “Waiting For Guffman,” “Shakespeare In Love,” every Mickey & Judy movie…to name a few?

…I’m secretly addicted to this practice.  It’s like the best of both worlds.  You get your cinema effects and star power on instant never-aged replay for life, but your little foreign freak world of hysterical “will they make it work or not” deal, of the world I know best. Plus really good smarmy one-liners. Cuz it’s internationally known that “actors” are whip-smart diva-bitches. Like, as a race.

It’s always fun when actors get to make fun of actors. No one knows how fucking neurotic we are better than ourselves. We can slip-stream right to the guts of it and make the “ouch” of truth, fucking hysterical. Cuz we are crazy freaks in our own way…not always the media-enhanced one, but faintly strange non-the-less. And we know it. We know the normals know it. And they know we know we know it. So to see one of us, BE one of us in all our process-filled glory, is a secret delight.

…Maybe because in true fashion of how the world looks at us, everything in all of life seems to be about an Actor when an Actor is in the room. Which is not (I guarantee you) the fact as it stands. Almost nothing is about us. Ask my creditors, and customers I serve 40 hours a week…the reports I run, the laundry that needs doing, groceries that need to be bought, the sleep I don’t get.

Actors are just people. And while it might be weird to think that Meryl Streep buys toilet paper…so did your first grade teacher, and you got over that whole shock and awe moment in the grocery aisle once…so maybe you’ll survive this too.

Thanks to my taxes I just filed, I happen to know for a fact that in 2013 in five shows, I’ve gone to 107 rehearsals, did 63 performances and traveled 5,958.36 miles. So that’s 170 days out of 365…and on most of those I also pulled a full 8 hour shift at the office. So sure, it’s my “career” and my “other full time job,” but if you think my landlord, or the guy I sell a garage to at work gives a flying shit, you are sorely mistaken. Like “theatre,” the cinema about it is a heightened reality of the truth…it shows what we want to think of as the lifestyle in the best of circumstances. Which means it’s semi-autobiographical…but only in the “working like a sunofabitch” sense.

…For instance: I’ve never known anyone who shows up to the theatre in full makeup, hair, and designer threads, with an entourage of handler’s in their wake. Even the famous people. We all show up the same way: looking like junkyards…it’s what yoga pants and oversized sunglasses are for. This is also true of our dressing rooms. They are never the elegant well-lit mirror-fest of solitary joy, full of flowers and blue M&M’s. It’s 99% of the time, a tiny pit, in the back corner or bowls of the stage, populated by anywhere from 4 to 47 other people. Even the nice theatres upkeep this tradition. A face-lift in the lobby and front-of-house…state-of-the-art sound systems and light boards mean dick to the non air-conditioned backstage, sweat fest, badly lit, real-deal where we all live.

…But for some reason, film (for the most part) likes to glamorize us while simultaneously showing how socially fucked up we are. Basically this makes it 50% right. Films like “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Noises Off” capitalize on the sheer ridiculousness of our lifestyle…the stakes we play at, how bad the really bad can be…and how psychotic we must be to do it all voluntarily. This is mostly true. Which is the sad/hysterical truth. Films like “Being Julia” and anything by Noel Coward, like to give us “class” and grandeur, wit and elegance. This is true maybe 5% of the time, though we’d like to claim it as biographical truth…yet it is difficult to be those things while sweating like a motherfucker, through endless quick changes, and wig swaps, in period underwear that keeps riding up, with an audience full of coughers.

…Mickey and Judy “lets put on a show” films are basically like tech week with teenagers…and don’t even get me started on the faux reverence of “Shakespeare” and his haloed language, when it’s contemporary people trying to wrap their heads around an inside joke that’s hundreds of years old, and relate it to people in the seats more occupied with remembering to pay their gas bill than watch a show right now.

In my opinion, there is one perfect example of theatre as shown by film. and that is Mankowitz’s “All About Eve.”

…Prob’ly cuz it was written and directed by a theatre boy from way back. He should know. And he gets so much of it right…from the raw longing, to the near misses and near hits, to the dive dressing rooms, and bliss of Openings…the politics…the power plays…the self-conscious aches, euphoric highs and shitty, shitty lows…showmances, and sexual drive…to sense of family and loyalty…all rolled into one. As well as the smarmy, bitchy, luscious extravagance of quick wits and one-uppers. Basically, it’s creative sex on film for the theatre kid. It’s our story, told extremely well…by people who get it…by people who were there.

…By people who got us here.

…So it goes that sometimes, I open up the decedent little box of joy that is the story of our life in what we do, and I watch it. Not, I think, for nepotism. Mostly for sense of “togetherness.” Like Christmas dinner with the family.

…It’s a strange little freak of a gene pool…but it’s mine. And I love it.

~D

Things To Do When Home All Day Sick

4 Jan

I am at the tits-end of a cold. 

…Have been fighting to keep it at bay before it really takes hold. This means “down time.” A lot.

…To keep from mental suicide, this also means lots of movies, while googling about the people in the movies, to satisfy the “muti-tasking” gene.

…Which is when you do things (for instance) like watch “From Here To Eternity,” and really realize on Bluray how TOTALLY BUILT Burt Lancaster is, in that beach scene…so you (naturally) google more pics of him.  Which brings up a hot one of him and Ava Gardner.  Which is when you click to go to that article publishing the picture.  Which is when you read how that was from his first film, “The Killers,” during which he began an affair with Gardner, directly after (Mom, just “la-la-la” to yourself here) getting a hard-on while filming the love scene, which the crew therefore totally made fun of. 

…So naturally, you need to find that damn movie. Online. NOW. And watch it.

…And for the first time (prob’ly ever), you get TOTALLY irritated because the movie DARES to have “plot” and things before Ava even turns up (38 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie…and THEN, it is only even her back.)

…But eventually: the scene arrives. 

…And it delivers.

(And so does the twist ending.)

…And you go back to the internets for more “scoop”…eventually stumbling over that one site where you can plug in your face and see who your celebrity doppelganger is, based on general features n’ junk.

…Which is when you get this idea about plugging in random show pics to see just how good you are at this whole chameleon-character-actor thing. 

…Which makes you laugh so hard, that you have a coughing fit and almost pee your pants as a result.

…Which is when you decide that you should share the wealth.

Even though it means people in the blogosphere will know what you look like (even if you are nameless to all but your privately selected FB friends.)

So: fine.

Here are my doppelgangers (according to character type.)

Personally, I think a 1930’s German Spy totally looks like this chick (whoever the hell she is.)
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And naturally a Nun would closely resemble Eva Peron.
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Amy Winehouse with a generous helping of Ozzy’s genes in there? You bet.
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…And when I think Jewish mother in the Holocaust…Christina totally is the 1(00,000,000,000th) person I think of, dunno ’bout you.
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…Just like nothing says “Beaver” more than Leslie Caron (enter French Beaver jokes, here.)
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You guys need to know that should you ever need a singing Cockney Prostitute: Jenna Elfman in your dame.
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…And NOTHING screams tea-party-right-wing-Mamet-horror, like a social activist and “L-Word” actress.
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…Which is only slightly confusing…cuz if you actually WANT a lesbian, you should aim for casting a Hilton…
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…But if you want a Celebutant, rich-bitch, flapper, go with REAL class: Mae West. (She comes with one-liners and talent.)
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When I think of a 40’s New York Undercover Cop…I always assume it will be cast with a French model…
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…Whereas NO ONE says “first lady of the American stage” like…Winona Ryder?
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I kinda like that Mina Harker could be a Bollywood star in another life (hell, she has infinity of time by the end, so why not?)
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…And bitchy Jane Austen antagonists ALWAYS should be played by actors with three names (more room to take up on the marquee.)
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…But above ALL…my MOST favorite, is that a saucily randy Shakespearean Lady’s maid equals a noir love-making queen…
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…Which brings us back full circle to the story about how one night? I had this crap cold and was watching “From Here to Eternity”…and noticed for the first time how TOTALLY BUILT Burt Lancaster is. So, naturally…I started to google more pictures of him, and I found this one really hot one…

…With Ava Gardner.

The End.

~D

A Break

18 Aug

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…Sometimes a girl needs a break from 24/7 lines, murder, and mayhem. 

…Not necessarily a “girl break” (ie: An Austen or RomCom film fest, featuring junk food and heavy sighing.)

Sometimes, all you need are some snarking smart-asses, and some sex.  Then, when you remember that you’re single, you have a buddy over n’ say:

“Hey, Justin and Mila…wanna have a foursome?”

…And everybody lives happily ever after.

This movie is magical in that it talks the way people really do.  (At least, my kind.) Also, makes fun of the sappy stuff, proves that laughing and sex can be a GOOD thing, and that friendship is mightier than the screw.

…Which, thank God.  Am I right?!

So, there is that. 

…An evening’s release from dark lit rooms, killers lurking in shadows, and dead bodies laying around just everywhere. 

Tonight, tousled sheets and funny bedroom bossings took precedence. Okay, sure, it was on a screen, but yuh takes what yuh gets, kiddies.

…And yuh bes grateful to the miracle of  “the BluRay.”

~D

The Heat & Some Tuneage

30 Jun

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Gwen and Cecily tag teamed some other badass dames, watching “The Heat” tonight, and laughed our asses off in some much welcomed air conditioning.

Listen, people: 90 degree weather doesn’t work well in the Pac NW.  We don’t know what to do with that shit.  And PERFORMING in it with a gillion watts of lights focused on us, in twelve layers before the corsets even hit…and suit jackets and silks and wigs and hats, was pretty much the human limit of human limits.

…It’s hard to be funny when your face is melting pancake and mascara in literal streaks down your face.  And it is hard to be genteel in that instance as well.

Gwendolen does not “wipe.”  She does not “itch.” She doesn’t even “blot.”  She just sits there and lets the sweat drop in lines down the back, off the neck, into the corset, soaking the armpits, as she sits, stands, launches herself at furniture and pretends to be delightful and cool as a cucumber throughout. 

…Nothing was cool.

Even the air conditioned theatre made no difference to us. Not when packed with bodies breathing hot air at us, as we bake under heat lamps. 

…And holding to what became the trend of the weekend, (after our phenomenal house on Thursday), the audiences across these past three days gave very little (and in some cases negative zero) help in energy throughout…whether they happened to be enjoying the performances or not.  Thus, forcing us to manufacture everything from scratch…and sometimes even dig ourselves out of the black hole vortex that they seemed to be sucking us into, in a sweaty, clinging mass of humanity.

Some blamed the heat.

…By today’s matinee, I had totally given up on any responsive expectations, and just went out there to tease and flirt and argue and reason with some characters I know. Played with the team with less feed-back expectation than an average rehearsal… so thus wasn’t thrown when that is what we got. 

…Then it was onto spraying down the drycleaning with vodka-water, laundry in the take-away bag…all the hats and jabots and cravats and cufflinks, earrings and watches, into our holding boxes…shoe-horned the shoes, aired out the corsets, wrote up our costume grievances, and beat it into an afternoon of heat waiting just outside the theatre doors that all but smacked us on our asses.

Gwen and Cecily solved the issue by taking refreshment of giant lemon ice-waters elsewhere, and following up with ice creams, before home and laying about like limp ragdolls until regrouping for movie times.

…A rest-time that included discovering a delightful new talent…her music happily floating from Naughty Girl’s speakers beside me.  A little Regina Spektor, meets Ingrid Michaelson, meets Lily Allen.

…A small collection of music.  She writes her own, and grabs studio time when she can.  I think she’s something pretty smile-worthy, and you might too.  Hear and grab her tunes if you wanna, here.  I’m pretty partial.

…And not just cuz she my Cecily 😉

~D

Victorian Commando

29 May

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The Fella just left from a cheese-eating, line-running, catch-upping date of yay: he over a beer, me over a whiskey.

…He brought me condiments, from the house, as he is in the final process of “move-out,” where he will be soon to join The BFF in the land of New Orleans.

Every theatre (and it’s people) in town will mourn his leaving, on scales: artistic, inventive, technical and in performance.

I frankly don’t even want to think about it.  So stop bringing it up.

…He helped me level out my TV sound system while here.  Cuz he’s a Wizard. 

The WHS Pimp had brought in a kick ass sub woofer et al for office use, to which I said, “Balls to that!  I’m taking this shit HOME!”  And I did.  And set it on the lowest possible level.  And instantly became the kind of asshole apartment neighbor we all hate, with constant booming rumbles through the entire length of a movie. 

I made sure to put in a good action one to really show off.  The explosions were awesome, and the helicopter sounded like it was actually landing in my own living room.  I’m sure the neighbors thought so too.  But then, once The Fella came over, I had him fiddle with it to get a better talking balance versus the constant sound of impending doom that a sub woofer seems able to deliver by instinct.  He of course managed it beautifully, killed the added echo, upped the treble, and has it balanced like a dream.

…Only it’s too late now for ‘splosion movies, so I’ll have to play with it again tomorrow.

In the mean time: a second session of Pilates.

…And tomorrow: laundry and rehearsal, followed by post-cast-bonding…under the express encouragement of Mdm. Director.

Laundry is a total must.

Down to my default underwear again.  And I’m seriously considering going “commando,” over wearing that butt-floss thong bullshit, (which I keep only for such emergency purposes.)

…Only somehow, I don’t think “commando” wears well on Gwendolen.

…Something tells me, Mamma wouldn’t approve.

(Beat.)

…Course, what she doesn’t know, couldn’t hurt her…

~D

Fam Time

18 May

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It’s been a week of Cuz-time, from CA, today’s new arrival from Portland, and half of the Washington ones, all meeting up in one way or another. 

A lot of coffee, a little antiquing, hit up Pt. Defiance, toured Stadium, drove Ruston, a quick run through Olympia, crashed a dance fundraiser, visited over BBQ, walked the farm trails,  killed time at three different houses, watched movies, ate two roasts, a pizza, french toast, and heaping salads, and still managed to go to work, process payroll, run reports, learn lines and hit rehearsals in between.

…And yet, I kept wondering all day long, why I was so tired.

No amount of coffee seemed to quite counteract it.

…Idiot.

Am now in bed, post-introducing the CA fam to “Galaxy Quest”…while the Portland one fought off a migraine with massive drugs and a red, satin, sleepy-eye mask.

Am writing my blog now, as quickly as I can…without a super-ton-alot of guilt, as the Portland Cuz is now sleeping under a mound of blankets, on the futon in my living room, and will be wanting to hit the road early with Bro (and his girl) in hand, a few hours from now.

So, this is it, friends.

Must catch the winks while I can.

Night-all.

~D

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