Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Character Turns 50

Yesterday’s post on prolific character actor Dan Hedaya marked my 50th In Character article on a specific actor. I’ve highlighted the casts of a few character actor-friendly films, and discussed which character actors in general deserve more work, but Hedaya makes the 50th actual person. And damn if that doesn’t have me elated.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Character: Dan Hedaya

Maybe you know him as that consistently furious, short statured fella with a thick Brooklyn accent. Maybe you know him for the plentiful number of mafiosos he’s portrayed on screen. The slouched criminal. The wise-cracking thug. Alicia Silverstone’s dad. No matter what you recognize him from, there’s no doubting that you do indeed recognize the weathered face of Dan Hedaya. Dude has been living and breathing character roles since his breakthrough on Cheers (which, incidentally, I have never had an interest in seeing, and will not be mentioned below).

I love the hell out of this guy, and his ceaseless, amusing angst.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Breakers

Cinematically speaking, there’s nothing that turns me on more than the art of something new. A vision, while possibly drawing comparison to others, that remains wholly unique. A story I’ve never seen before, or, just as effectively, a story I’ve seen a hundred times, but now with a fresh spin. It’s no matter how the originality comes to be –through story, execution, tone –so long as it’s new. Give me something new, and I’ll give you my full appreciation.

Top 10 Scenes that Make Me Hungry

Title is pretty self explanatory, but for one reason or another (and, admittedly, some of these are random), the scenes listed below all give me insatiable cravings. It is interesting that many of these scenes were first witnessed when I was a child. An analyst might have fun with that. Be sure to tell me which movie scenes most make your stomach rumble in the comments over at Movie Mezzanine!

Monday, March 25, 2013


I’m going to get the silly stuff out of the way first. The big, pointless question surrounding Chan-wook Park’s domestic thriller, Stoker, is if it is a worthy, American inclusion to the famed Korean’s filmography. Stoker is Park’s first American-made film, and the conversation has mostly focused on whether his trademarked macabre sensibilities will cross over. And take it from me, a great Park admirer, that Stoker fits snuggly in his oeuvre of human depravity. There’s no doubt who you’re watching, and every doubt as to where it will go, which is about as fine a compliment I can bestow a Park film.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Top 10 Scenes of People Receiving the Best News of Their Lives

Yesterday, we admired movie characters at their absolute worst, and today, we marvel at their very best. Perhaps more than yesterday’s list, the amount of scenes that could occupy a spot here is boundless. So do feel free to share some of your favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Top 10 Scenes of People Receiving the Worst News of Their Lives

When I present a list as random as this one, I typically use the introductory paragraph(s) to justify why you might want to read it, and how I came up with the idea in the first place. And the honest truth is, I have no idea where the basis for most of my lists come from. I get an idea and off it goes.

With that in mind, I can’t particularly pin point what caused me to rank 10 movie scenes in which people receive incredibly troubling news. Other than the fact that scenes like these usually lend themselves to gut wrenching acting. I hope you enjoy my picks, and to prove I’m not a heartless bastard who enjoys watching people (fictional or otherwise) suffer, I’m going to post the inverse of this list tomorrow.

For now, revel in the pain, and be sure to tell me some of your most memorable moments of cinematic despair in the comments. The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In Character: Peter Sarsgaard

There are many facets to a perfect Peter Sarsgaard performance. To achieve greatness, you might see him play hopeless, you might hear him scream, you might see him charm – sometimes all at once, occasionally one at a time. He’s an actor that can do so little, but really be doing much more. For him, it’s all about restraint, which is difficult to accomplish. Sarsgaard always seems dialed in and aware of his characters’ motivations, even if we haven’t the slightest clue where they’re headed. He reveals himself with humility, which often leads those watching him to become fully entranced.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top 10 Controversial Films that Aren’t Really that Controversial

Controversial hype is a tricky hand to get dealt. On one end, controversy can help allure an audience, but inversely, it can shy viewers away. All of the films on this list have been victim to one or the other, and in watching them all, I’m curious as to why.

Good or bad, classic or dud, the films below were labeled as controversial from the onset, but the point I’m getting at is: what’s all the fuss about?

Head over to Movie Mezzanine to view the list.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Top 13 Things I Love About Mulholland Dr. (that no one talks about)

David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. is a film so tightly wound in mystery, that some shots, moments, or hell, entire characters, are bound to be ignored. Upon rewatching the film recently, I was struck by 13 specific things that never seem to gain much attention from viewers. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on Lynch’s beautiful dark twisted masterpiece, and be sure to tell me your favorite overlooked moments from the movie!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

the Directors: David Lynch

For all intents and purposes, David Lynch is a seemingly normal guy. Bear with me here, but really, think about it. He’s said he grew up in picturesque Middle America, with “milkmen, backyard forts, blue skies, picket fences, green grass,” and so on. And today, to paint a very surface picture, Lynch creates, he smokes, he makes coffee, talks about the weather – normal things people do. And that is precisely what makes David Lynch so captivating: somewhere along the way, whether through experience or interest, he became… David Lynch. Our most popular living surrealist, a cultural icon, a man who will forever have a type of art dedicated to his name. That of Lynchian art.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Character: Laura Dern

Laura Dern was born to act. The daughter of two accomplished thespians (Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd), Dern was cast in her first movie at age 6 and has more or less been killing it ever since. An initial (and some might argue, continued) muse of David Lynch, Dern has made a name for herself in nearly every genre, allowing her to forever step out of the shadow of her parents. Choosing six roles to highlight certainly wasn’t easy here – she’s simply that good in everything, always.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top 10 Dramatic Performances by Comedians

My friend and fellow film blogger, Sam Fragoso, recently asked me if I’d like to come on as a list man for his site, Movie Mezzanine. Because Sam is a fan of my movie lists, and I’m such an admirer of what he’s doing with the Mezzanine, I was honored to contribute. So, every Tuesday, I’ll be posting a list on Movie Mezzanine – some will be new, others will be face-lifts of lists I’ve published on this site years ago. I’m still going to post my own lists on And So it Begins, typically every Friday or, you know, whenever I feel like it – my Movie Mezzanine lists are just another portal into my movie freaked mind.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dead Man Down

There’s something oddly reassuring about seeing a good, new movie in the theater during a season when good, new movies are not in the theater. As is customary, good movies aren’t released theatrically in the first months of the year. It’s the dreaded time after the studios have pushed for Oscars, but before they’re hitting us with summer blockbusters. So, while there’s no real mystery as to why late winter/early spring boasts a cinematic lull, that certainly shouldn’t take away from the pleasure of spotting a diamond in the rough.

Anthology Breakdown: To Each His Own Cinema

As part of the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, 36 filmmakers were commissioned to each make a three-minute short film. Their direction: express your state of mind of the moment as inspired by the motion picture theater. The result as a whole is entitled To Each His Own Cinema and when broken down, it is an at-times fascinating examination of what inspired some of cinema’s finest talents. Like most all anthology films, some of the shorts below are less than stellar, while others are just plain pointless. But when one hits, damn, does it ever. (Big thanks to Steven from Surrender to the Void for being integral to making this post happen.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Top 10 Favorite Movies as a Kid

It’s a lot of fun looking back at the flicks I grew up with. Some of them are heartwarming gems that continue to comfort me, others are numbing romps that I haven’t bothered with in years. But a few of them are more. More than child-pleasing distractions, more than mindless entertainment. A few of the films listed below are partly responsible for my fascination with the medium. They made me realize that movies could be more than movies. So take a trip with me down the rabbit hole of my youth, and be sure to list some of your childhood favorite flicks in the comments.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In Character: Peter Stormare

Whenever I see Peter Stormare, I am instinctually reminded of his violence. Or, rather, the violence many of his characters bestow. But, like all great character actors, there is far more hidden beneath the surface. As my favorite Stormare roles will prove, the actor is capable of far more than physical ferociousness. There’s humor, depth, and, occasionally, tenderness. Still, noting all that, there’s always something hidden behind those slightly crossed eyes. There’s a danger lurking, even in his sensitivity. For that reason (and a handful of others) Peter Stormare will always remain endlessly watchable.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Favorite Scene: Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog isn’t a man who is easily fazed. He makes films out of sport, rather than lasting creative impact. For him, eating a shoe, dragging a boat across a mountain, threatening to kill a lead actor, climbing an about-to-erupt volcano, filming on every continent – it’s all for the thrill of the chase. As in, Herzog seems to chase whatever idea he gets in his head, and bring it to life by any means necessary. Whether that involves dressing an actor up as Dracula, or documenting the oldest cave paintings known to civilization, if Herzog aims to tell a story, then the story will be told, hardships be damned.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Top 10 Careers Launched by Oscar Winning Short Films

When most people think about Martin McDonagh, they recall his hilarious, heartfelt and oddly poetic gem In Bruges. Not me. Whenever I see McDonagh – standing confidently in a perfectly tailored suit, sporting spiked white hair – I immediately think of the afternoon a few years ago when I discovered a hilarious, heartfelt and oddly poetic short film called Six Shooter. The film had just won the Oscar for Best Live Action short, and after watching it, it was obvious why. Since his Oscar win, McDonagh has carved out two feature films (one, in my opinion, wildly more successful than the other), making himself a household name in the comedy crime genre.

In addition to McDonagh, here are a handful of other filmmakers who saw great success after winning Oscars for their short films.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Breaking Down the Spike Lee Double Dolly Shot

Spike Lee is one of the most well known living filmmakers for a number of reasons. His controversial nature, the taboo subject matter of his films, his prolific filmography, and so on. But one thing that is discussed far too rarely is Lee’s technical style. This includes his penchant for changing aspect ratios, fluctuating film stocks, morphing color tones, and, of course, his signature double dolly shot.