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Michelle Pfeiffer: Personal Effects

Revisiting and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.

Personal Effects (2008) is a flawed film, certainly, but Michelle Pfeiffer still manages to turn in a delicate, beautiful, and underappreciated performance.

In a film that often feels like it's trying too hard to say important things about grief and loss, at times mistaking solemnity for profundity, Pfeiffer, in an extraordinary performance, simply shows us the reality of grief and loss. As Linda, she paints a moving portrait of a women grieving the loss of her murdered husband while trying to raise a traumatized teenage son who is acting out in response to his father's death.

Linda meets the much-younger Walter, played by Ashton Kutcher, whose sister was brutally murdered. Together they form a connection, offering tentative support to each other as they work through shared tragedies. They become intimate, and instead of this age disparity romance seeming unnatural or forced, it's sin…
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Introverted: Small Talk is the Worst

Scenes from the life of a high-functioning introvert.

Can we talk about small talk?

Specifically, how useless it is, and how most introverts find it anxiety-producing and will do anything to avoid it? Can we just admit that small talk is horrible?

As you may have noticed, cyberspace is filled with a plethora of pithy introvert memes—my personal favorite features Elvira and you can see it above. While some of them exaggerate the truth—we only hate people who suck, geez—the core message is usually on point: introverts have no tolerance for your bullshit.

Small talk just feels fake to us. Inane pleasantries about the weather or car troubles feel like a total waste of our time. Sure, we do it too, sometimes, but that's mostly because society expects it out everyone, and sometimes we're just too tired to fight it.

In my experience as an introvert over the years, I know, usually within an instant, if I've connected with someone or not. I've experienced that near-immediate mo…

It Came From the '90s: Postscript

This series looks back at the 1990s and its influence on the generation of people who came of age during the decade.

1995 was a pivotal year. So much happened in just one year. In January I felt lost, but by December I was closer to found than I could have imagined at the start of that year.

With "Second Chances" I told part of that story, my '95 story, in all its chaotic glory. This started as a writing exercise based on accessing my memories to make some sort of sense of who I was that year, and how it effected who I go on to become. It helped unearth some very real and specific emotions, which I tried to express through words, as honestly as I could.

As always, no names were used, to protect the innocent and the guilty. Full disclosure: I'm the only guilty party in these stories.

For further reading, I've written about '95 before, in snippets, and those posts can be found herehere, and here. Some experiences or emotions alluded to briefly in those pieces are…

Barely Making a Dent: March 2018 Books

In which our narrator tries to read his way through the endless stacks of books that are slowly overtaking both his bookshelves and his life.

Between the winter blues, the kids keeping me busy, and work just kicking my arse lately, I've had very little time—or attention span—to read as much as I'd like. Still, somehow, I've managed to read several books in the last few months, but I've spent more of my (rare) downtime watching movies. My book nerdery is only equaled by my film nerdery—and both are nearly equaled by my art and music nerdery. In other words, I have more than enough nerdery to spare, at all times.

Anyway, I recently rewatched one of my favorite comfort food films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. When I'm tired, or down, or just in need of some cinema therapy, this film never fails to deliver. It also happens to be one of my very favorite Christmas films. Robert Downey Jr., and Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan are simply magnificent together in Shane Black's…

Michelle Pfeiffer: Hairspray

Revisiting—or in a few cases, watching for the first time—and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.

Velma Von Tussle is not exactly a humble woman. She's well aware of her stone-cold foxiness, and wields this power with impunity. She's also a bigot, a sizeist, an all-around vainglorious vixen, and the wicked antagonist in the 2007 film version of Hairspray. Yet while she's certainly well aware of her looks—she declares, "I'm blonde and beautiful" as a simple statement of fact—she sidesteps accusations of bigotry and snobbishness with thudding tone-deafness—"You can say I'm a bigot, but it just isn't true. Look, I love Sammy Davis, and he's black and a Jew!" She's the worst, really, but you still kind of like hating her.

Much of that appeal comes from a memorably delicious performance from the incomparable Michelle Pfeiffer, herself no stranger to stone-cold foxiness. She's spectacular as the …

Writing Roundup: Pfeiffer, Fox, and a Fly Girl, too

I've had three articles published at different sites recently, focusing on three very different actresses: Michelle Pfeiffer, Megan Fox, and Jennifer Lopez. In fact, this might be the only time the three have ever shared a sentence together.

You could say I love the films of Michelle Pfeiffer. You might even say I'm one of her biggest (p)fans. I've been engaged in a thorough revisiting of every one of her films recently, writing about some here when I have a chance, so you'd think putting together her top ten performances would be easy for me, right? Sort of, but not quite. While my top five Pfeiffer is fairly locked down, the ordering could easily be rearranged. I agonized over work that I left out of the top ten, and if you checked back with me tomorrow I might include one or two of them at the expense of one or two that I did include. That's how strong her filmography is.

She's the best, that's it. And let's not forget, her peak years—roughly, 1987–…

Michelle Pfeiffer: The Witches of Eastwick

Revisiting—or in a few cases, watching for the first time—and celebrating the work of Michelle Pfeiffer, the best actress of my lifetime.
I've always seen Sukie Ridgemont as the heart and soul of The Witches of Eastwick (1987). As brought to life by the resplendent Michelle Pfeiffer, Sukie is kind, goodhearted, and compassionate. Her fellow witches offer contrasting personalities, with Alexandra (Cher) the brash, bold leader of the group and Jane (Susan Sarandon) the awkward and timid mouse. But it's Sukie who balances them out, not only tempering their extremes, but injecting the threesome—and the film—with real warmth and light.

Much of this comes down to Pfeiffer's strong performance. Sukie has an awful lot going in her life: she's a mother of six (!) daughters whose husband abandoned her and the girls, yet still somehow (through the magic of film) she manages to hold down a gig as a columnist for the local paper. Imaging a young Pfeiffer in the role—she was not yet…