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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…
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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, acting as 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 Ing…

Rank 'em: The Halloween Franchise Films

What better way to celebrate Halloween than by revisiting every single one of the Halloween franchise films? That's just what I've been doing all month long, so you know what that means: I'm a little punchy at this point and it's time to rank 'em.

A few spoilers lie ahead, of course.

10. and 9. Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009)


I'm lumping together the two Rob Zombie reboots because, frankly, they're equally bad. Zombie added a stereotypical Zombie touch to the franchise lore—Michael Myers' family was pure white trash! Michael's mom was an exotic dancer! Dr. Loomis once looked like an old, dirty hippie!—but almost none of it worked, nor was any of it even necessary. Instead, it took what made the taut and lean original so good and bloated it into something unrecognizable. I'm a fan of Zombie's House of a 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, but the less said about these two films the better.

8. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Tech…

Barely Making a Dent: October 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.

This time of year brings several things to mind: leaves changing color, chilly yet comfortable autumn air, pumpkin ales and pumpkin spice everything, candy corn, and of course Halloween. As a horror fan, this month is almost overwhelming—the desire to watch and read all the horror, all month long, is all-consuming. Of course that's not possible, but I am trying.

I've been working my way through rewatching all of the Halloween franchise films; just watched the sagging sixth film (Curse of Michael Myers)—which is always a big letdown after watching Tina and her neon heart in the previous film (Revenge of Michael Myers)—so only four more to go, counting the two Rob Zombie flicks.

Then the eerie and haunting Mindhunter appeared out of nowhere and, six episodes in, I'm completely hooked. I've also been reading some horror novels and c…

"Opium Wars" by Zoe Lund

She wants there to be more of her. More space taken by her body, More decibels conquered by her voice, More time by her wakefulness, More equations by her addition.
She wants more, I want less. Her blade is rusty, musty, sweaty and vain. I like it clean and sharp and dark-bright.
She traffics in surplus, I bare my essentials. Her world is elastic but brittle. Mine is bony but moonlit. Hers flows, she ebbs. Mine ebbs, I flow. She dies in life, I live in death.
—Zoe Lund, “Opium Wars”