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Showing posts from November, 2017

It Came From the '90s: For D’arcy (Sail on Silver Girl)

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

Search any dorm room across campus, circa 1995, and you'd likely find a copy of Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits. Many copies would've been acquired through BMG's or Columbia House's music clubs ("12 Hot Hits for a Cool Penny"). "Cecilia" was always a hallway jam favorite, especially in the girls' dorms, but "Bridge over Troubled Water" was deep, man.

Sail on silver girl Sail on by Your time has come to shine All your dreams are on their way See how they shine Oh, if you need a friend I'm sailing right behind Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
That image of "Silver Girl" was particularly evocative to me—of what, I wasn't quite sure, but it was all so lovely and damaged in its own twee way. Who was this Silver Girl? Was I s…

Thirty Years On: Adventures in Babysitting

Elisabeth Shue's iconic 1980s wardrobe in Adventures in Babysitting (1987) is forever burned into the brains of Gen Xers everywhere—thanks in no small part to constant cable TV airings of the film in the late '80s and early '90s. Even today, it's impossible to see a women wearing a beige overcoat without seeing Shue, in that film, in my head. If it hasn't already happened, the ensemble should be preserved forever in the Smithsonian. After all, it's an essential reminder of our shoulder-padded youth.

Adventures in Babysitting turned thirty this year. Reaching the point in your life where you can add thirty years to the age you were when you first saw a movie is utterly depressing. Eh, let's not wallow in our own decaying states. Instead, let's celebrate a little film that meant something to many of us as children, even if today its flaws are easier to spot (some dated stereotypes being chief among them). Adventures isn't nearly as strong as a couple …

Michelle Pfeiffer: I Am Sam

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 Am Sam (2001) never entirely worked for me, mainly because at times its efforts to tug at my heart strings seem too obvious, even bordering on manipulative. However, Michelle Pfeiffer's costarring performance, alongside Sean Penn, is nothing short of excellent. The New Yorker review said it best, "Pfeiffer, enormously likable in the role, almost saves the movie." It's one of her most underrated performances, and also one of my personal favorites.

Pfeiffer is Rita Harrison Williams, an attorney and mother overwhelmed by these difficult duel responsibilities. She's a serious Type A personality, with compulsive, obsessive tendencies, and an extremely harsh view of herself and the world. She's cynical, taking on Sam's custody case to prove she isn't heartless, that she'll do pro bono work. Of course, as the film pr…

Michelle Pfeiffer: One Fine Day

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

The classic screwball romantic comedy, when done right, is beautiful to behold. In 1996, established superstar Michelle Pfeiffer starred alongside then-rising Hollywood hunk George Clooney in the charming and delightful One Fine Day. When mentioning Pfeiffer's best work, this film isn't often named, but it deserves to be. Certainly, it's a light, frothy affair, which might lead some to dismiss it as unworthy. That would be a mistake, as Pfeiffer is simply radiant in a memorably sublime performance.

It's an utter joy to be in Pfeiffer's and Clooney's company here, tagging along as they make their way through one exceptionally frenzied day in the lives of two busy New Yorkers just trying to wrangle their kids while also doing their jobs. You know, just the usual adulting stuff, really. Throw into the mix that Pfeiffer's sin…

Joan Didion is Having a Moment

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.”
— Joan Didion, "Goodbye To all That
The new Joan Didion Netflix documentary, The Center Will Not Hold, directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne, is at the center of a well-deserved return to the spotlight for one of our greatest American writers. Countless insightful op-eds and articles have been written about her since the documentary dropped a few weeks ago, and I've read every one I could find. Joan Didion is having a moment, and any time a writer of her import is discussed, our society is better for it. If only we spent more time discussing the written word and how much it gets at the heart of our grand, flawed condition. Can you imagine what that world would look like?

Didion's work, her writing, particularly in e…

Michelle Pfeiffer: New Year's Eve

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

Revisiting nearly every one of Michelle Pfeiffer's over these last few months means carrying her entire career's worth of scenes and moments and dialogue around with me, in my head, like old friends keeping me company. I'm as surprised as you might be to admit that one moment I can't seem to stop thinking about is the end credits scene from the ensemble rom-com, New Year's Eve (2011).
The cinematic crimes against humanity in this film are legion: it's maudlin, treacly, and manipulative; many of the female characters lack sufficient agency; and don't even get me started on Katherine Heigl and Bon Freaking Jovi. But then there's Pfeiffer, who manages to make her little story arc feel true, and deeply affecting. She rises above the rest of this mess, even managing to elevate Zac Efron along with her.

Michelle is Ingrid, …