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Showing posts from September, 2017

Barely Making a Dent: September 2017 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.

Do they still make those "READ" posters? Several years ago—maybe ten, or fifteen?—I used to see them everywhere, in libraries, at the office (I work in publishing, after all), in various stores and on various public transportation systems. The fact that I'm feeling strangely nostalgic for them now is probably one more sign pointing towards my ongoing slide into old age. I've also been curious to find 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure books and a Rubik's Cube lately, too. Sigh. It's pointless to resist, nostalgia wins every time. And, sadly, this Britney poster made me feel old back when it was plastered everywhere, and now thinking about how long ago that was only makes me feel even older. #smh

Recently read

Out of Sight, by Elmore Leonard. Here is an author who's been on my to-read list forever, yet who's novels I&#…

Michelle Pfeiffer: Mother!

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

Darren Aronofsky's Mother! might be the most polarizing film of 2017. It combines aspects of mythology, the Bible, and domestic discord into one potent allegorical stew that is addictively watchable one moment, then utterly revolting the next. In other words, it's a film that makes you feel things. Throughout, it puts both its star Jennifer Lawrence and its audience through the emotional ringer. At one point, you begin to wonder if watching the film might lead to increased risk of post-traumatic stress. Amidst this chaos and insanity, however, resides an actress who is completely at ease with the madness surrounding her: Michelle Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer's performance is electrifying, full of white-hot intensity, yet tempered with an icy coolness and some of the film's best, and most snidely delivered lines. Pure kinetic energy every time …

Double Feature: Michelle Pfieffer and Al Pacino

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

If you've been paying attention around here lately, you know that I adore Michelle Pfeiffer. She's likely my favorite actor, hands down. Al Pacino, however, also sits right there at the top of my personal pantheon. So it's no surprise that their two film collaborations are extremely special to me. They first starred together in Scarface (1983), Brian De Palma's wildly ambitious and searing critique of power, avarice, and the American Dream, as told through the rise and fall of a drug kingpin. That film belongs to Pacino, with Pfeiffer in a smaller, yet crucially important role. Eight years later, they shared the screen again in Frankie and Johnny (1991), Garry Marshall's warm, tender, and honest look at two damaged people falling in love. This time, Michelle's Frankie is the film's real focal point, with Al's Johnny …

An Appreciation: Terry (Belinda Balaski) in The Howling

Oh, Terry. You were so full of spunk and wit and had such incredible hair.

Every time I watch Joe Dante's seminal 1981 werewolf film The Howling, I want to warn Terry of the dangers that lie ahead—namely Robert Picardo's unnervingly deranged serial killer-cum-werewolf Eddie Quist—and beg her to just drop the amateur sleuthing, turn around, and skedaddle out of the woods and back to L.A. Sadly, every time I watch, her fate remains the same.

Belinda Balaski turns in a remarkable performance in a supporting role as Terry, the best friend to star Dee Wallace's character, Karen White. Whenever she's on screen it's impossible to take your eyes off her. She's a dynamo, full of magnetic charisma. She breathes such tremendous life into the role and I doubt most actresses could've done any better with the part. Balaski imbues Terry with attractive qualities, like tenacity, pluckiness, and charm. Following her as she investigates the mysterious goings on at the Colon…