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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–…
Recent posts

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…

An Appreciation: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2

Uma Thurman performance in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 has always been more than deserving of high praise. She's outstanding, turning in one of the great performances in film of the last two decades. Not only is the role about as physically demanding as any in recent memory, but through all of the stunts she also delivers an emotional powerhouse of a performance.

As The Bride, Thurman crafted one of the most iconic female performances of our time—or any time, really. Throughout both films, she's put through the wringer by the events of director Quentin Tarantino's madhouse mashup of genre action and suspense. No matter, she's never anything short of outstanding. Whether it's wielding a samurai sword with ease, engaging in knockdown, drag-out fisticuffs, or by using only her eyes to reveal The Bride's steely resolve, she is pure cinematic gold.

Thurman recently opened up to The New York Times, going into detail about events she only alluded to on the red carpet l…

It Came From the '90s: Second Chances

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

As I rounded the corner, she was walking right at me. Our eyes locked. We were clearly stunned to see each other. The sea of humanity parted, receded, disappeared—students bounding through the crowded halls after the final bell, the cacophony of excitable teenage conversations, all of it, reduced to white noise, then gone, in an instant. While I was rarely confident of anything back then, I was certain of this: in that split second, I knew this was my second chance.

It was my first day home for college break, and that one moment would influence the rest of my summer—and the rest of my life. Suddenly, there was hope. Two years previous she was a moon, incandescent and illusive, briefly orbiting my world. We hardly knew each other, but there was a spark of electricity in the air every time we shared (outer) space together. Then, college for me, while she finished high…

The Art of Kathryn Bigelow: Parting Shots in Blue Steel and Zero Dark Thirty

The first in what will hopefully be a series of short posts on the films of Kathryn Bigelow—one of the most gifted and unique filmmakers of our time.

Kathryn Bigelow is deservedly celebrated as one of the finest directors of kinetic action working in film today. She's mastered what the director herself has referred to as high-impacting filmmaking, but she's also equally adept at quieter, subtler moments, and that impressive aspect of her work isn't discussed often enough.
The final scenes in Blue Steel (1989) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) are eerily similar, especially in their staggeringly powerful impact. Both moments feature only one woman in the frame, Jamie Lee Curtis in Blue and Jessica Chastaine in Zero, each utterly broken by the events of the films. Their relentless perseverance—in taking down a serial killer in Blue, or in taking down Osama Bin Laden in Zero—is now depleted, missions are accomplished, and the emotional and psychological toll of it all is finally hi…

Michelle Pfeiffer: Into the Night

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 love Into the Night (1985) so much it's nearly impossible to be objective about it. Truly sublime, the film is lost 1980s classic that rarely gets its due when people are listing greatest films from that decade. John Landis's crowning achievement (yes, better even than Animal House, An American Werewolf in London, The Blues Brothers, and all the rest) is a testament to the power of film to transport us, to make us feel like we're on an adventure with the film's characters. Of course, when one of those characters is portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, it's all too easy to tag along with her anywhere.

Jeff Goldblum is an unhappy insomniac named Ed Okin whose life is turned upside down one night when Michelle’s beautiful and charming jewel smuggler Diana hops in his car. She's on the run from the Iranians (it's a long story). …

Dolores O'Riordan, 1971–2018

Our pasts are littered with so many obsessions, the kind formed by the passion of youth, some of which stick around, many of which fade over time. Growing up in the Last Golden Age of Rock (i.e., the 1990s), many of my generations' obsessions revolved around music. Some have remained in our hearts forever after, while others fade. Even those that fade, though, still reside in our hearts—all it takes is hearing a song out of the blue one day, then all of those youthful feelings of loving devotion rush back to the forefront of our hearts and minds.

This happened to me a few weeks ago when I heard "Dreams" and "Zombie" on the radio in a matter of days. Suddenly, I was remembering how that teenage version of myself once bought each of the Cranberries' '90s albums as they were released, played them to death, and, as my mother reminded me yesterday, even had a poster of the band on my bedroom wall.

Dolores O'Riordan, who passed away over the weekend at o…