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The Fabulousness of Forty-something

I just turned two score and six years a few weeks back and lemme tell you, I’m not as upset as most Hollywood-types would have had me believe. In fact, I’m not bothered by it at all. Maybe it’s because I was already braced for it, but I think that bein’ closer to the Big Five-Oh is actually pretty freeing. Maybe it’s because turning thirty was surprisingly satisfying and making it to forty was so fabulous, that any new decade is something to look forward to.

But since I am the protagonist of my own Romantic Comedy called Life, I mostly think it’s because of the wonderful “In Praise of the Older Woman” trend brought to the forefront by the dynamic duo of Ryan Murphy and Jessica Lange. What? You got that right. Ryan Murphy adores Jessica Lange as much as I do. I know, hard to believe. And, fortunately he’s in a prime position, as the current King of the Screen, to do something about it. And, Hollywood is taking notice. Women like Ms. Lange (67), Kathy Bates (68), Angela Bassett (58), and Susan Sarandon (70) — all of whom are being celebrated and showcased in all of their incredible acumen and beauty by Mr. Murphy (who’s on the cusp of 51) — have cured any doubts about becoming a woman … of a certain age. These women are beautiful, powerful, and full of fabulous!

Hollywood’s Most Glamorous Power Couple

 

 

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Feud is due out in 2017

Further Reading on Feud

 

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Mr. Murphy, Ms. Bates, and Ms. Bassett at Paleyfest 2013

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Ms. Bates, Mr. Murphy, and Ms. Lange

Further Reading on AHS (may contain spoilers)

Don’t Breathe Will Leave You Gasping for Air

 

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Took two of my teens to see the new thriller Don’t Breathe today and lemme just tell y’all, it was not what I expected. Even though I tried to go into the movie with zero expectations (all I knew was what I’d seen in the original trailer; I read no reviews and none of my immediate circle had seen it yet), I knew that Sam Raimi was a producer and I didn’t expect him to sign off on a piece of crap. So, while I knew the initial premise — three young adults decide to rob a blind guy in his own home — I went in expecting an average suspense. And then, I got the wind knocked outta me.

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Close quarters make for some very powerful dread.

Formula First

Roughly five minutes of set-up was all it took to make Rocky (very deftly portrayed by the cherub-faced girl-next-door, Jane Levy) the criminal you’re rootin’ for, due to the stock set-up. We’re not lookin’ at deep character development here, Friends, but that’s okay because Levy was aptly supported by her co-star Dylan Minnette who played her platonic, moon-eyed friend Alex. Daniel Zovatto, who played Money, gave us enough spot-on machismo to quickly decipher the fact that “ah, here’s the asshole boyfriend everyone wants to see get it.”

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Minnette and Levy give their most thrilling performances when they don’t have to rely on dialogue.

Going in, I couldn’t quite imagine a hunk like Stephen Lang being too thoroughly icky as The Blind Man. Menacing? Yes. Scary as hell? Yes. But gross? I was surprised what blinding Lang’s baby blues and slathering him with grime and sweat, and costuming him in a blood-stained wife-beater could do. In such close quarters, the viewers could almost smell his grime and rage. Nods to the costuming and lighting departments for the former, but all of the menace and rage should be squarely placed on the shoulders of Lang’s years of theater performances.

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It gets truly intense when Lang’s Blind Man levels the playing field.

Brace Yourself

After 10 Cloverfield Lane, I was a bit skeptical that writer/director Fede Alvarez was going to be able to keep us glued to our seats, but he did it. This gripping twist on the current Home Invasion trend delivers all the nerve-wracking anxiety, claustrophobia, and suspense a thrill seeker could hope for.

As I said, this isn’t a deep character study. This is an action-packed thriller with lots of long silent (and terrifying) silences. The momentum depends almost exclusively on the character’s action — or inaction, if you will. With so few principle characters and the limited space of a single family dwelling, it’s easy to wonder how the action and angst can be sustained. Don’t worry. This home-owner may be blind, but he knows his own home like the back of his hand. It’s believable when he appears everywhere and nowhere at any given moment. And, when he cuts the lights, those poor kids don’t stand a chance. There’s nothin’ as gratifying as a fair fight. Is there?

Before the crew of hopeful home invaders decide to execute their plan, Alex wonders whether or not robbing a blind man might be a skeevy move. Well, in hindsight I would advise, “Hey, you prolly shouldn’t disturb this guy. He’s disturbed enough.”

 

Violence in Living Color

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love a good horror show, but only the ones that take place on the Silver Screen. Y’know, the kind that involves actors and Hollywood-types getting paid a lot of money to be drenched in heavy FX. The kind that goes well with popcorn and peanut M&Ms. The kind that you can fast-forward, turn off, or walk out of if it gets too intense. The horror show that is far removed from daily life.

Every day we are waking up to new violence and bloodshed in the news, both at home and abroad. When has fighting fire with fire ever worked outside the cinema? Violent retaliation does not open the doors to civil dialogue and positive change; instead, violence and murder only alienate those who are sympathetic to your cause and force them to recoil in horror. Please, stop the violence.

Tarantino

Feast on This Friday: Fears & Phobias

Coincidentally, I have a phobia of popup books

Coincidentally, I have a fear of pop-up books.

 

Fears. We all have ’em. Some of them are just practical nuisances but other can be completely life-altering. When I use the term “nuisances,” I mean not being able to fall asleep until your feet are properly tucked under the covers, far from the prying hands of the mucussy goblins that live under your bed. Having a fear of heights and being uncomfortable in a tall building is one thing. Having a serious case of acrophobia that keeps a person from accepting an important career opportunity is another.

My spice once pointed out that I have more phobias than anyone he knows, like on par with Woody Allen. I didn’t agree until I had to use my second hand to continue counting ’em.

To my knowledge, my first serious fear stems from the fact that I saw a particular movie by Steven Spielberg when I was only three years old. Yes, I’ve been aquaphobic since I was three. But it isn’t just water that makes my skin crawl, it’s certain types of agua and what might be in them. My aquatic phobias include thalassophobia which is fear of open waters like the ocean, bathophobia (“deep waters”), and hydroskourophobia, which includes “deep, dark waters,” and even limnophobia, a fear of lakes. In my case this also includes selachophobia (fear of evil creatures I won’t name) and megalophobia (which includes any big things you may see in the water, and especially things that can stare back at you).

Some of my phobias, like my selachophobia is very real. C’mon, people say, that isn’t a realistic fear; it’s not like you live in on the ocean. Trust me, my fear of not-so g-r-e-a-t [color] s-h-_-_-  … y’know, is pretty severe. Even just seein’ a picture of the evil, dead-eyed bastards scares the hell outta me, causes me to jump or scream (or cuss), sometimes throws my heart into arrhythmia, elevates my blood pressure, and makes my palms sweat, and my mouth dry. We’re talkin’ serious dread here. My family isn’t even allowed to say the word out loud. At the Home Clan Allen Builds, the creatures are surely demons that shall not be named. Some of my closest friends (including my spice, the jerk) take a perverse pleasure in trying to desensitize me of this particular fear. They especially enjoy posting pictures of the monsters on my Facebook page. Haha. For those who’re counting, that’s six phobias so far.

I also fear closed-in spaces (claustrophobia), being trapped (agoraphobia), heights (acrophobia), flying (aviophobia), clowns (coulrophobia), bridges (gephyrophobia), and dentists (dentophobia). That’s thirteen. Thirteen things that cause visceral responses from my nervous system whenever I confront them. Thank goodness I’m not triskaidekaphobic.

What makes your skin crawl, takes your breath away, or causes you serious anxiety? Please share in the comments below. Sometimes it’s nice to know that we’re not alone. 

You’re a Daisy if You Do

 

For as long as I can remember, daisies have always been my favorite flowers. Symbols of love, purity, and innocence, they’re such sweet, homey, and cheerful flowers. Daisies always bring me sweet memories of my childhood. They remind me of the whimsical little effeuiller la marguerite [pluck the daisy] game that I used to play — only my translation was “He loves me, he loves me lots” so I would always have a happy outcome. Daisies also remind me of the song, “Daisy Bell” that my grandmother sang to me when I was a little girl.

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When we were dating, my future spice was impressed and pleased to learn that Shasta daisies were my favorite because, as he said, “They’re cheap.” He’s such a romantic. Actually, he is … he surprised me with an arrangement of daisies on our wedding day to serve as my wedding bouquet.

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July 6, 1993

Of course, as a self-proclaimed cinephile, I’m always pleasantly surprised by daisy references in cinema, especially obscure ones. I only have a few references that I know of which I’ll share here.  If you know of any others, please share them with me in the comments below.

Movies with Daisy(ies) in the title:

Daisy Kenyon (1947)

Pull My Daisy (1959 short film)

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960)

Daisies (Sedmikrásky original title, 1966)

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Daisy (Deiji, original title 2006)

 

Joan Crawford in Daisy Kenyon

Joan Crawford in Daisy Kenyon

 

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Still from the Czech cult classic Sedmikrasky

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Publicity still from Please Don’t Eat the Daisies

Bonus Daisy Trivia:

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My favorite photo of early-Hollywood icon Buster Keaton.

 

Val Kilmer’s character Doc Holliday uses the line “You’re a daisy if you do” in the 1993 film Tombstone. Kilmer’s incredible performance, coupled with shrewd dialogue consisting mostly of witty one-liners, gave the archaic phrase a solid come-back for modern audiences.

 

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Arthur C. Clarke, then visiting friend and colleague John Pierce at the Bell Labs Murray Hill facility, witnessed John L. Kelly’s vocoder synthesizer recreate the song “Daisy Bell: Bicycle Built for Two,” using an IBM 704 computer in 1962. Inspired by this spectacular event, Clarke later created a similar event in the climactic scene of his novel and screenplay for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Clarke’s fictitious HAL9000 computer sings a haunting rendition of “Daisy Bell” as he is disassembled by astronaut Dave Bowman.

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Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is my favorite modern flower child. She has been quoted as confirming that she loves all kinds of flowers but that daisies are indeed her favorite.