Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Great Gatsby: Chapter One

A reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby, as read by me, The Sea Green. One chapter at a time.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Movie Review: My Week With Marylin

This Thanksgiving, in the midst of all the cooking, too much turkey, and avoiding an alcoholic aunt who keeps insisting I stop being "a gay," I made a trip to the local cine and caught the early bird showing (because 6 dollars woot FTW) of My Week With Marilyn (Simon Curtis, who has never directed anything that does not sound horribly boring, and horribly British). The movie stars Michelle Williams as the iconic and beautiful (and batshit crazy) titular role of Marilyn Monroe as she worked with Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Brannaugh, who is I guess a very good actor, but all I can think of now is how he directed "Thor") on the comedy "The Prince and Showgirl." During the very tense filming (because Olivier is a dick and Marylin is an adorably damaged little puppy dog) she got cozy with a freckled little bastard Brit, Colin Clark, the third directing assistant to Sir Laurence. The movie is about several different things: filmmaking and movies in the 50's, about being 23 and horny, and of course, about Marylin Monroe, not only the person, but the myths that surrounded her. It is apparently a true story (because the credits told me it was a true story) and is based on the diaries kept by Colin while he spent his time with Marylin.

The movie, while not the best written thing, and not the most insightful biopic, has undeniable charm (which goes by the name Michelle Williams), some extremely wonderful performances (once again, by Michelle Williams. Okay, this is going to be a total ass-kiss fest of hers so if that turns you off just stop reading now), and had some really nice bits I was able to relate to throughout the film.

The movie starts with and is told through the eyes of young cinephile (typing that word feels dirty) Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne, who is annoying at first, but finds his way about a half hour into the movie. But after that all I could think about was how puffy his upper lip is). At the age of 23, he is desperate to get a job doing ANYTHING in the movies, even though his family is super boring and super stuffy and super into BRITISH things (like being boring and stuffy and, politics or whatever), and don't quite approve of his choices (not that the movie dwells on this point).

So Colin goes to Pecadilly Circus to get a crew job on a real movie set. They're not hiring so Colin does the "I will just show up here every single day and seem so endearing and enthasiastic that of course I will get hired soon" schtick, and big surprise, it works (which I just don't see how it really would in real life. Seems more like loitering than enthusiasm. And think if you applied this stick-to-iteveness to trying to date a girl? You would appear to be a serial rapist). But here inlies one of the things I really enjoyed about the movie, and that was every character's love for film. Colin can't help it, and just knows he has to have some sort of job in the movie industry, and I have long since felt that way too (I haven't camped outside any major studios and demand employment, however, so maybe that's what I'm missing). And everyone else in the movie is either an actor, director, crew member, movie-job-worker-whathaveyou, and the movie created a nice sense of how important making these movies (even a light-hearted comedy like the one they were making) is to all them. The entire movie Luarence Olivier is a total dick, but I got the vibe that it was, overall, because making the film was important to him (and because Laurence Olivier was apparently a dick).

Marylin Monroe is gorgeous and and adorable and totally snuggable, but paralyzed with self doubt and terrified that everyone in her life is going to up and abandon her. So pretty much she's your average woman (read: crazy. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYUMN!) She and Olivier cannot get on the same page because he is classically (and Britishly) trained, and she has to have this Jewish Life Coach follow her around all day to tell her she doesn't suck. She is intimidated, even though everyone loves her. But after he sees her naked (the movie has two really nice Michelle Williams butt-shots) and helps her on the set, little Colin starts to grow on the starlet. He is nice to her (like everyone is), but does so in a way that strikes her as more honest, and the two start spending more and more time together.

Marylin just cannot be alone. Can't hack it. Ever. She's so unsure of herself that she is 100% dependent on others to keep her up (Like Jewish midwives). And Colin, I mean shit, how could you NOT fall in love with Marylin Monroe (ESPECIALLY when she is REALLY Michelle Williams)? Especially if you are 23, have freckles, and are working on a movie set for the first time in your life. So the dynamics of their relationship, while not really the healthiest, and definitely not going to work out well for Colin, was fun for me to watch. I liked seeing the way they tiptoe through this game. It's one you can tell Marylin has done plenty of times before (finding new people to adore her), and even though Colin is not stupid enough to think they are really going to end up together, he can't help but try. And that is what I responded to. Maybe I'm feeling a bit girly these days (aka menstruating), but I liked that hopeless and impossible feeling of love he had for the superstar (it just makes me want to write little love notes and fold em up and put them in crush's locker after 3rd period. And in the note I want to draw little smiley faces after I say something cutesy like "I can't wait to just feel your body while I hoooold you." INSERT SMILING FACE). Redmayne does a fine job displaying how unbelievable their courtship is to him, but you can tell he's just doing his best to play it cool. "Sure, Marylin Monroe and me go skinny dipping and make out. No big whoop." But it IS a big whoop! That is a very big whoop! And both Redmayne and Colin know how big of a whoop it is, and he can't help but fall in love with her. That might sound silly, considering he doesn't know her, just met her, she's crazy, oh and married, but trust me. You'd fall in love too.

Of course, none of these reasons are the REAL reason that this movie is getting (mostly) good reviews and is being favored by movie peoples (movie peoples LIKE ME). And, very obviously so, it's because of Michelle Williams' performance. Now, to make it even clearer to everyone reading this (I truly can't imagine anyone is reading this), but I got it bad for Michelle Williams. I love her little face and the way her skin looks softer than most girls' and her big brown eyes. And she's fucking talented. (Woah, I just realized everything I said about her coudl also be applied to how I feel about Ryan Gosling). But all my adoration aside, she was fantastic in the role. I am not a big Marylin Monroe fan (not that I DON'T like her or anything) and I don't have a large deal of interest in her (not that I DON'T have interest in her or anything), but mere moments into the film I became absolutely enamored with her, just like you're supposed to. Williams just gets right in there and makes me believe absolutely everything she does, and every way she acts. She gets it down just right and it doesn't just feel like another impersonation of a famous person, but like she is actually acting, creating the emotions in a way that made sense to her, not only seeing the world through Marylin's eyes, but making an entire world out of them that she can freely exist in. It's really just a solid performance. One that she should be credited for, and one that she will probably be nominated for. The interweb told me that they were originally trying to get Scarlett Johannsen to play the starlet. I'm so glad they decided against that, however, and decided to try and make a movie that didn't totally suck.

I liked how the movie kept its Marylin guard up for at least the first third of its runtime, giving us only peeks at her. First time we see her she is performing a musical number. The second time she is in the middle of a huge interview, wooing the reporters with her ever so coy responses. But Williams lets the guard down in a big way and shows us all the vulnerability and insecurities the actress dealt with every day. But the plot never progress too deep, or too dramatically (drama for drama's sake), and they don't have to, seeing as we all know how it's going to end for her (she bangs a president and is happy forever, right?) The movie (and Williams) very nicely shows you her deep issues, but more in a foreshadowing kind of way.

So there it is. I like movies about pining, and I like movies with Michelle Williams, and I like pining for Michelle Williams, so this movie is going to get the nod from me.

RATING: 8 out of 10

What's On Instant?

Netflix Instant is pretty much the best thing ever, and those of who disagree, while I respect your right to not agree with me, I think you are a wrong stupid person. Instant is great, for both movies and TV shows. It gives me a good mixture of classics that I have seen a thousand times and can always put on a thousand more (The Big Lebowski, Die Hard, all of LOST), and has given me opportunities to see lots of new things I'd never seen before, both good and bad, and the bad is usually as fun as the good.

So with a ridiculous amount of choices out there what should one watch? What movies and TV shows are going to be worth your valuable time (because yeah, I am sure if you are reading this blog your guys' time is valuable eh)? Well that's why I'm writing this segment "What's on Instant?" I am going to straight up tell you how to spend your time on Netflix Instant. Everyone has Instant at this point, right? And if you don't, just exchange a friend's password for either food or handjobs.

Party Down (Showtime, 2009-2010)

Party Down, created by John Enborn, Dan Ethridge, Rob Thomas (not that Rob Thomas), and Paul Rudd (yes that Paul Rudd), is an offshoot of the awkward Office brand of humor that has pervaded our televisions for the last 8 years, but luckily, it's a good one. Party Down is a party catering company in LA, employed mostly with actors and other young aspiring Hollywood personalities.

It stars Ken Marino (Wet Hot American Summer yesmoreplease), Adam Scott (one of the most wonderful faces on TV/in movies right now. If you are unfamiliar please IMDB him right now. I will wait. See him? Yup, that awesome motherfucker), and the absolutely hilarious and Jewishly-adorable Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, AND she's the chick who blows up in Cloverfield!!!), and even Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks!). That's a fucking cast.

But, much like many of the best shows ever made (Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, The Cape) it was cancelled far too early, leaving us with only two measly seasons and only twenty episodes. You can watch it all in about a day if you just go for it. And I ALWAYS say go for it (I don't ALWAYS say that).

The Thing - (John Carpenter, 1982)

The Thing is probably my favorite horror movie of all time (which means it very well could be your favorite movie of all time). It's just everything I like about horror, about gore, and about Kurt Russell. A bunch of dudes (only dudes, a whole lot of dudes) are stuck on a science expedition in the cold wastelands of Antatctica. A replicating alien has been thawed and is running around duplicating all the members of their team, killing them violently and awesomely. The visual effects and make-up done by then 22-year-old Rob Bottin is reason alone to watch this flick.

See this movie. See it often. See it hard.

Peep Show (British TV Show Channel, 2003-Present)

I am not the biggest fan of British humour (although I love their spelling). Sure some of it is pretty okay but I can't deal with it on a normal basis. However Peep Show is just the shit. Wonderful stuff, pal. It's a pretty straightforward slacker situational comedy (SITCOM GET IT?!?) about lazy unemployed musician Jeremy, and the overworried, neuortic Mark. The two go through the every day trials of work, friendship, love, sex, mushroom tripping, and dog murder. Oh, also, it's called Peep Show because every shot is from a person's own perspective and it is totally weird looking and might turn people off but I think it's really funny.

Apparently it's just been renewed for an 8th and 9th season. So cheers.

So these are just three recommendations of many more to come. Check 'em out. Watch em on Netflix, steal people's passwords. Kill if necessary (don't kill if necessary).

Tunes of the Season

I've been feeling kind of basic lately. While not always the best way to grow as a person, it has its definite comforting qualities. When it comes to tunes, I have been finding myself returning to a handful of songs to get through the weeks. Lately I have wanted songs that make me feel mellow, introspective. I want to rock out a bit, but I want to keep it on the groovy side. I want to find my head rocking to the subtle beat. And I want to disappear into it like cigarette smoke spiraling towards the ceiling. I want the lights kept low and I want the candles to keep burning. Play these songs loudly, play them alone or with someone, or with a lot of people.

Hey - The Pixies (Doolittle)

There are whores in my bed. Whores at the door. And whores in my head.

Heaven - The Rolling Stones (Tattoo You)

I am not a big proponent (or one at all) of the Stones after about 1973, but this song is an exception. It's an exception because I am kissing and running away.

Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks (Face to Face)

This song might not quite follow suit of the previous two. But who gives a fuck it's fucking Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

My First Favorite Movie

For those of you who know me (and for that I truly am sorry), you are very well aware that I have an affinity for movies (and for the word affinity). The art of cinema has attracted me since I was a wee one, barely able to bite at my ma and pa's kneecaps. I remember the first movie that ever truly made me obsessed. I was ten years old and while, sure, I had seen a Star War or two and didn't hate em one bit, I never had thought about films as a viable option for me to put my time and energy in. At that point in my life the only two things I remember undertaking with any sincerity were The Power Rangers and Tae-Kwon-Do classes (the latter was obviously a direct result of the former. I wanted to be the Red Ranger so bad).

Up until this point movies were just another form of entertainment, not at all an artistic and personal endeavor, one that people have spent their entire lives pursuing, perfecting, and loving. But when I was ten, all that changed. I saw a film, and the love for that film snowballed like a frenzy into something bigger, something immense, and soon turned out to be an all consuming endeavor. For years I spent all my money on VHS tapes (no I don't remember what that stands for, but I can tell you with the utmost confidence you do not watch these cassettes on VHS players. They are called VCRs), going to the cine with my dad, re-enacting scenes with friends, writing our own movies, filming them. One movie made me reevaluate the things in my life I found entertaining and how I chose to spend my creative time. And that movie was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

It may seem queer (queer like strange not queer like gay, get a dictionary) that the 1997 Mike Myers slapstick spy spoof would be my first step into the cinematic wonderland I have found myself in for the last 14 years, but I swear it makes sense (It doesn't really make sense). Perhaps I had recently become slightly more aware as a ten year old than I had been at 9, at least when it came to how I soaked up movies. Not by much, mind you, because I still pretty much liked every movie I saw until I was fourteen. But this movie just made me laugh more than any other movie I had ever seen. I didn't understand over half the jokes in the damn thing, but that was part of the appeal.

It was one of the first and most adult movies my parents had ever let me seen before. The most inappropriate movie my parents had finally allowed me to watch, only after begging for hours, days, weeks, was Wayne's World (Wow, love Mike Myers much?). That was a movie I barely understood at age 8, but still found hilarious. I liked seeing movies that were just beyond my reach. The allure of more adult movies, the kinds that more people were watching and enjoying, was an enthralling concept. The cursing, the violence, the adult situations, the scantily clad women (because Femmebots) were just what I didn't even know I was looking for. And I already knew these movies were going to be hilarious because not only did I hear my parents shriek with laughter while they were allowed to watch it, but c'mon, look at Austin's teeth and hairy chest, it's funny (it's kind of funny).

There were many many things in Austin Powers the first time around I didn't fully get, but still found hilarious. But there were even more parts that I do remember genuinely laughing at. When the henchman (played by Mad TV's Michael McDonald) is screaming at Austin from the steamroller, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!" And then you see he's about 50 yards away. That was the funniest goddamn thing I had ever seen in my life. Still makes me laugh to this day.

So I watched Austin Powers probably about 75 times that year. I also started watching every James Bond movie with my dad. It tickled me immensely every time I would now understand a new reference they made in Austin Powers. After we watched all the Bond movies (of which there are far too many, and most of them are far too terrible), we started in on all action movies (Dear God don't even get me started on what Die Hard did for my childhood). And, at the same time, I was now more than ever infatuated with comedies. They were, and still are to this day, my favorite genre of film. I want to be laughing as often as possible, every day, and comedies have always just fit best with me.

And after that, movies became my passion. I saw every single movie I could get my hands on at Blockbuster, and when I got a few years older saw everything I could in the theatres. I started learning as much as I could fit in my head about actors, directors, screenwriters, even box office news. The day I discovered IMDB, I imagine, is like the day people find out they're going to have a baby. I spent every extra cent I had on my movie collection. I made lists upon lists for each year's top ten films, watched and intently cared about the results of the Academy Awards (yeeshrightiknow?) And to this day, for those of you who know me (which seriously, I am really sorry), you know that I spend probably a third of our socially interactive time together either talking about movies (and TV to be fair), or making direct references to movies (and TV to be fair). It has shaped my every day outlook of the world, and how I exist in it. It's pretty fucked up

Friday, 11 November 2011

Here's an Introduction for you

Hello all, hello friends, bloggers, tweeters, youtubers, fasbookers, here's the digs: This is my, Nick Kaminsky's, Blog (spot dot blogspot dot com). My reasons for the creation of this blogspot (dot blogspot) are plentiful (and highly sexual). I needed a forum where I could combine my favorite forms of art and multimdedia and put it in a space where people can actually interact with it. I wanted a blog where I could include not only weekly musings about movies and pop culture and the city of Chicago, but have others contribute their own thoughts, or stories, or music, or portraits embroidered in boards of wood.

Also, I love the sound of my own voice (literally, I will read this out loud after writing and I will be filled with delightful joy at the soothing inflection of my baritone intonation). The chance to be able to yap online, as freely and as much as I'd like is just far too enticing an offer to pass. And shit, if I adore all of the things I have to say about cooking, booze, and Ryan Gosling, then shouldn't all of you as well? For all these reasons, I thought to myself one ridiculously warm November morning (because Chicago) that I should totally start a blog. That, and because I need a website url to put on the back of a business card. For if I ever get a business. And I really want a business card.

I'm sure it will be slow coming, but soon I think this could be a groovy place in the blogosphere (that word is funny because it's not a real word) to check out a lot of cool shit. I've got some weekly column ideas I think I'd like to try out (mostly involving movies, and tv, and going to see movies, and watching tv on the internet), and am always interested in talking about things that are going on in this illustrious (read: cold) city I live in. And like I said before, I want to have friends and artists (friend-artists) adding their chosen forms of creation to the page. Writing of any kind is welcome (fiction/nonfiction, short stories, essays, whathaveyou), but much more is possible (it IS two thousand and eleven, and we DO have the capabilities of the interweb), and we can include plenty of different mediums onto the blog.

So sure, let's see where this fucker goes. We'll see if we can't tame it like a wild horse, seduce her like the curvacious beauty in the back of the bar, chug it like a motherfucking beer. Basically, I am going to fuck this blog. I am not going to use protection.