Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

16 December 2008

Slumdog / Narnia

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is everything you've been hearing (I assume you've been hearing about it; even my father is talking about it and he's never heard of Danny Boyle and I'd wager never saw 28 Days Later...)

The movie follows a young slumdog, an extremely poor orphan named Jamal, who, along with his brother, has scraped out a life in the streets of Mumbai. Jamal, while he is very young, falls in love with a young girl named Latika, who is also a poor orphan. They are separated by an evil mob boss and by many other circumstances.

Slumdog Millionaire follows the story of Jamal as he is about to win 20 million rupees on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." The movie then flashes back to explain how it came to be that our boy Jamal knows the answers to all of these difficult questions.

The film is about fate and the convergence of circumstances. It's a fairy tale, of course, but is also about the universe and hope and working as hard as you can to get what you want. It's beautifully shot--in typical, gorgeous, Danny Boyle style--and edited at a fast pace. Slumdog Millionaire is sweeping, romantic, occasionally heartbreaking, and always fun. This is a must-see picture and seems to be getting enough good buzz that it will be getting an Oscar nomination (in the Juno/Little Miss Sunshine/Chocolat slot.)

I also made time for Andrew Adamson's Chronicles of Narnia sequel: Prince Caspian which I expected to like, but which left me a little cold. It's a weird little movie, actually: far too many protagonists for any coherence (at least The Lord of the Rings always had Frodo...); complicated and ill-explained exposition; weird narrative structure; anti-climactic ending. It's not a bad movie, really, but it doesn't really cohere very well. I imagine that the next one will be a little better: if I remember correctly, the plot is a little more linear and there are fewer focal characters.

More movies to come. I am in Los Angeles, now, and trying to see as many as I can

11 December 2008

Summing Up 2008

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Presented at a conference. Went to New York City.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I actually can't remember if I made any, but I shall make some for the new year for sure.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No, but my sister-in-law Rosie and my brother Michael are expecting their first child (Cruz Antonio Thomas) before the year is out.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Nope.

5. What countries did you visit? None. I was in Talla-classy most of the year.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Two roommates for the whole year.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 4th. Election day. I spent the day excited and on edge, and I spent the evening with friends watching the results come in and drinking gin.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my Master's Degree / Finishing my thesis.

9. What was your biggest failure? I have had a lot. Mostly I would say my teaching is the biggest failure of the year, but there is much to learn, time to grow, and I will get better.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Yeah. Weirdly enough I threw out my back at the beginning of summer and had to go to a chiropractor and get it fixed. Much better now, though.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My book-organizing software. Now I won't buy things I already have. I have so many books; it was about time I found some way to catalogue them.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? So many people! My friends Mike and Brandee got married, and my friends Isaac and Christina got married. I am so happy for both couples, though I was unable to go to the weddings since I am stuck down here in South Georgia. But also my friend Wahima, who moved to the Big Apple this summer and is making her way in a big new city.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? My parents and everyone else who voted Yes on Proposition 8 in California, Proposition 2 in Florida, Proposition 102 in Arizona, and the Adoption Ban in Arkansas.

14. Where did most of your money go? Costco Wholesale. I love that place.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My production this summer of A Midsummer Night's Dream

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? This is absurd, but "Low" by Flo Rida, featuring T Pain.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter
c) richer or poorer? Poorer (Yikes. 3 for 3. Not good. Tallahassee did not do me right this semester.)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Watching movies. Visiting my friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Teaching.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? With my friends and family in Los Angeles and with my parents in Colorado.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? About this. I mean, technically no, I guess, but I sure did a good job convincing myself that I was. Maybe I should just chalk it up to a "yes."

22. How many one-night stands? One.

23. What was your favorite TV program? "Slings & Arrows."

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't think so. Maybe.

25. What was the best book you read? Easy: the one-two punch of Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter: on the Discursive Limits of Sex by Judith Butler.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Joshua Schmidt's musical adaptation of Adding Machine.

27. What did you want and get? A boyfriend, but then I didn't want him after all as it turned out.

28. What did you want and not get? For the boy I loved to love me back. A PhD program that paid attention to me.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? So far it is Tarsem Singh's The Fall. But there are many more movies to see and I will see them all in Los Angeles when I get there!

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 27 and I cannot remember what I did. It was Spring Break, so most everyone was gone for the week. I did take a trip to a dairy farm that week, and that is one of the highlights of my year. My friends Kate, Ruth and Maria and I had a delightful time and a goat chewed on my shoulder.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A better car.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Polos and jeans.

33. What kept you sane? Fabulon: my new favorite website. Ryan. Liz.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Neil Patrick Harris. Zac Efron. Adam Sandler.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The billion dollar bailout debacle.

36. Who did you miss? Michael Stablein. Wahima.

37. Who was the best new person you met? The queers I met at ATHE this year. Such great people: Michelle and Cassidy and Glenn and Brent and Nick and Jennifer and David.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: You must take care of yourself. Sometimes you need to make decisions that other people do not like so that you can have time for yourself.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: No song lyrics this year. 2008 has been pretty rough. I am hoping for a better year next year.

05 December 2008

Oscar Season Is Officially Here

Today is the first official day, when the important awards groups start speaking. The buzz will become even more concrete in the next few days. Today is the National Board of Review. The Golden Globe Nominations come out next Thursday the 11th, Los Angeles speaks on Tuesday the 9th, New York the day after that, and then Thursday the 18th the Screen Actors Guild nominations come out. Things will be looking pretty set by that point, I would imagine. So start making lists of cool films you want to see.

The National Board of Review is a bit of a mess, of course. Who the hell are they, for starters? But they start the buzz train really rolling, so they are always exciting. To wit:

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Top Ten Movies:
Burn after Reading
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Gran Torino
(they obviously love Clint Eastwood)
The Wrestler

Best Foreign Language Film: Mongol (ineligible for this year's Oscar)

Top Five Foreign Films:
The Edge of Heaven (also ineligible)
Let the Right One In (also ineligible)
Roman de Gare (also ineligible)
Un Secret (um, also ineligible)
Waltz with Bashir (the only eligible one)

Best Actor: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino (did I mention they love Clint Eastwood?)

Best Actress: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, Milk

Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
Viola Davis, Doubt

Best Director: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Spotlight Award: (How is this different from "breakthrough?" I guess it doesn't matter.)
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Melissa Leo, Frozen River

Best Screenplays:
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Nick Schenk, Gran Torino

Best Animated Feature: WALL·E

Predictions? What does it all mean?

03 December 2008

Seen This Yet?

My favorite is Jenifer Lewis. I fricking LOVE her. But you will probably recognize a lot of people, including the love of my life Neil Patrick Harris.