Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Ten Favorite Performances of the Year



Hello all! Merry Christmas Mr. Potter! And a happy new year...in jail! (I keep saying this to people and they don't get it. A little distressing, cause I love saying it as a holiday greeting.) Anyway, did you all now that I have been blogging here at ClassicForever for 10 years now? I was once just an eager 14-year-old joker branching off with dreams of a media empire. Anyway, you'll be hearing more about me and the internet and film soon (when I actually write the post). 

In the mean time, here are ten of my favorite performances of 2018. I have not watched all I need to see in 2018, and my actual "Favorite Films" list will probably pop up closer to February, but here is a little glimpse into some of my loves of the year. They are not exactly ranked, but they are also not exactly unranked. It's all rather vague, yet typical of me. Some of these films may pop up in my best of 2018 list; and some of these will absolutely not show up in my best of 2018. These are performances that struck me for one reason or another. I love them all!  I will keep spoilers out of my little write-ups, I guess. 


Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough in The Favourite (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

So, all the ladies of The Favourite are excellent (even Emma Stone, who I do not usually overly appreciate is great here). In fact, they are so excellent that they cover for a less-than-stellar film, but I have to talk primarily about my one true queen, Rachel Weisz. She is extraordinary in a character that could have gone so wrong in nearly anyone else's hands. She glides along a thin line throughout the film between antagonist and protagonist (I mean, she was always THE protagonist in MY heart). And, she does it with such ease. There is a depth and fullness to her Sarah that is vital to the entire soul of the film. She is harsh, fun, clever, bold, mischievous, unyielding, and--above all--honest. *heart eyes*


Steven Yeun as Ben in Burning (dir. Lee Chang-dong)

It is nearly impossible to say much about this film without taking away some of the viewing experience. Make no mistake though, this is not really a twisty-turny thriller in the sense that there is no "wow omg plot-twist" that once learned ruins viewing appreciation. Still, it is a steady and slow, ahem, burn, so I will not say much at all. Steven Yeun is an actor I talk about while frequently using the prefix "my beloved" Steven Yeun, so I was quite exited to see him take on this role. He has talked about how meaningful it was to be in a Korean film, as he is frequently the only Korean person on film sets (if not the only POC on set). I am glad he was able to feel so fulfilled making this, because it shows through in his bold and unhampered work. That sweet, sweet smile though. 


Cynthia Erivo as Darlene Sweet in Bad Times at the El Royale (dir. Drew Goddard)

This is a movie that will ABSOLUTELY not be on my end-of-year list of good movies. It is not a good movie. It is a terrible movie. It is freakishly long and feels every minute of it, and I literally hated nearly every single character. Nearly. In the midst of the garbage (and Chris Hemsworth as a cult leader, which was actually a lot of fun), Cynthia Erivo utterly shines. I LOVE DARLENE SWEET. Her face says every moment of pain, sadness, and frustration. And, she keeps on going. Cynthia Erivo also sings throughout the entire movie--which is honestly too incredible for words. AND I LOVE HER IN THE GREEN SEQUINED DRESS. (CE also stole the show in Widows, and is just so cool and beautiful and hardcore. ahhh!) 



John Cho as David Kim in Searching (dir. Aneesh Chaganty)

You all know I live for good dads on film. John Cho as David Kim is a v. good dad. Such care and attention and relentless love. Also, the amount of incredibly engaging and empathetic work Cho is able to do via literally webcams and Facetime is SHOCKING. Why are you all sleeping on John Cho? GIVE HIM EVERYTHING. 


Keira Knightley as The Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (dirs. Lasse Hallstr√∂m and Joe Johnston ) and Colette in Colette (dir. Wash Westmoreland) 

It's a cheat, but I could not decide which 2018 Keira performance I loved more, so they are tied. As Colette, she is all Keira: stunning, mesmerizing, impacting, and delightful. She lifts a wretchedly written/directed biopic through sheer force of her Keiraness. She is Colette. As The Sugarplum Fairy, she also lifts a wretchedly written/directed film through sheer force--but not exactly force of Keiraness. It is a very atypical Keira (but also not wholly unexpected if you have been following her career since you were ten-years-old--and I have been). The choices she makes can only be described as "all of them." My jaw is dropped and mouth agog at what she does, and was allowed to do in this Disney film? Watch it for her! You will not be disappointed. Don't make me bani-shed you from my blog. 


Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in Venom (dir. Ruben Fleischer)

I have already written waaaay too much about Venom, but oh me oh my, I love Tom Hardy in this so much. I cannot think of a more unexpectedly glorious moment in my filmgoing experiences this year than Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. You have not truly lived until you have seen him stumbling around shushing people and jumping into live lobster tanks. Also, the tears! The mumbling! What a v. sweet boy!



Blake Lively as Emily Nelson in A Simple Favor (dir. Paul Feig) 

If this was a different movie, perhaps Blake Lively would be in consideration for acting awards. Come on, at least a Golden Globe for Comedy/Musical! Not only does she waltz through this movie in an incredible array of three-piece suits, she commands the screen in every single scene. I could not take my eyes away. 


Maggie Malubwa as Shula in I Am Not a Witch (dir. Rungano Nyoni)

This is an extraordinary, perfect film, and I cannot wait to rep it even further when I write about the best films of 2018. But, here, I want to highlight Maggie Malubwa. As Shula, she gives us one of the best child performances ever. She is mostly silent, and has no large or obvious expressions. Yet, she compels with her eyes. Malubwa's performance brings you in way too deep to not take up your entire mind and heart while viewing the film. I look so forward to seeing more from her. 


Ben Whishaw as Paddington in Paddington 2 (dir. Paul King)

BEN WHISHAW AND HIS ROGUE HAIR HAVE DONE IT AGAIN. It is no secret that Ben Whishaw is clearly and objectively the greatest actor of his generation obviously. With his Paddington, he so clearly cements his place. His voice performance stuns. It's all the deepest feelings that come from true kindness and true love for all people expressed in inflections and tones. Paddington 2 is possibly the best film of 2018 (you will have to wait to find out), but it would be nothing without Ben's work. I am literally crying over here thinking about it, okay. You beautiful, beautiful sweet boy. 


Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk (dir. Barry Jenkins)

Literally every performance in Beale Street is excellent. Every character is perfectly cast, and every actor gives us almost too much. The empathy on view is overwhelming: devastating and restoring. While every role is expressed without flaw, I wanted to particularly highlight Colman Domingo's work, because I think it is less likely to receive the same consideration and praise as some of his co-stars are (rightfully) receiving. His Joseph Rivers is a good dad, and the vulnerability and steadfastness on display genuinely fills my soul. When he is onscreen, you feel okay--like things are going to be okay. Watching Domingo's father character breathe, react, and love was like watching one of the classic greats of empathy: a Gregory Peck or a Sidney Poitier. Just wonderful.


Well, there you have ten of my favorite performances of the year. I hated to leave off some, but then we would just be here for endless days of me muttering on and on about why Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander was the James Bond I needed (wait, should I write a post about that?)

Anyway, see you soon/probably next year.  Much love to you all! Your presence in my life the last decade+ has meant everything. 


Friday, November 2, 2018

Venom (2018), or Millie Investigates: Does Millie Love Tom Hardy Too Much?


Why hello there, friends! First of all, thank you all for the kind welcome back! Your comments were all delightful, and exceedingly welcomed. I am back again on a Wednesday afternoon with a few hours off [LOL. I started writing this last week, and then had to go to work, and now it's 10 days later. whoops. classic Millie. I did watch it a second time though, so you're getting some real refined thoughts.[Whoops, this is actually now like three weeks later. A series of unpleasant events combined to keep me from writing this review earlier. Enjoy the fact that half of this was written like three weeks ago and then the other half tonight with no editing between either half.] ], and I decided to once again head to my favorite coffee-shop and send a blog post into the ether. It is very lovely to type and type and type all the jangled thoughts and observations out. And, because I am a hopelessly attention-seeking middle child extrovert, it is great to type all those words out for public consumption and detailed feedback!FEED ME, SEYMOUR! Anyway. I am here on the very auspicious occasion of reviewing that just-released film with all that awards buzz: Venom.  So, I did not know any thing about this film going in--except that it was vaguely connected to Spiderman, that it was vaguely supposed to flop, and that it most definitely starred Tom Hardy.It was the latter that drew me in like a spider to a web (is that a good Spiderman reference? I don't know?). I love Tom Hardy. I love Tom Hardy too much. I sat through all 9.5 hours of that movie where Leo DiCaprio crawls through snow grunting, because Tom Hardy was in it for a bit with incomprehensible accent. I watched Dunkirk last year, and cried because a) Tom Hardy, and b) Tom Hardy's face is covered the entire film (why Nolan, why?! *shakes fist in general direction*). I WATCHED THIS MEANS WAR ON DVD BECAUSE TOM HARDY, AND HONESTLY THAT ALMOST WAS A BRIDGE TOO FAR FOR ME, BUT I DO NOT BLAME YOU TOM.Side-note: I am intrinsically mistrustful of most adult men. If you ever want a mentally Rolodex'd list of bad men or questionable men in film--come see me, because The Millie NEVER forgets. However, there is a random group of men in film I just like without any red flags blaring in my head. Obvi, Keanu is the king of this realm (NEVER LET ME DOWN, KEANU). But, there are select others. Usually, one makes it into the list for entirely innocuous or irrational reasons (Joel Edgerton crying all the time really helped him out), but once there, they have my unconditional loyalty--unless they end up being a terrible human (again, Keanu, you can never betray me, man!).Tom Hardy is one of these male humans! I am just like, "buddy! I trust you! be great!" It might be his well-noted love of dogs. It might be his always slightly askew hair. It might be all the times he shut-down misogynist people trying to make a deal out of Furiosa being the hero of Mad Max: Fury Road. It might be this Tumblr post I saw once (and cannot re-find now) that posited the interesting theory that perhaps Tom Hardy is, in fact, a kind dog given human life by a grateful witch. (8-ball says: VERY LIKELY.)You get it! I love Tom Hardy. I had the early afternoon off yesterday, and it was playing at Cinerama here in Seattle. I get in free to that cinema, and--crucially--the film was less than two hours long (unheard of in the personal nightmare genre of comic book films). I made it happen.I had literally non-existent expectations: merely the faint hope that if it was better than This Means War--I would be satisfied.Let me hold you in suspense no longer--Emmy, who has texted me several times in the last day asking my opinion of the film, feeding my ego excessively while doing so--Venom is better than This Means WarLet me tell you why.First, film opens with random rocket crash blah blah blah. Suddenly, in a command room is Riz Ahmed playing "Elon Musk." I HAD NO IDEA RIZ WAS IN THIS FILM. My heart soared. But, wait, who is that cool scientist next to him? Do my eyes deceive me? They do not! It is Jenny Slate, herself! *heart eyes all over the place, joker*Stuff happens. Likely important to the plot, but not to my enjoyment of the film, so I do not remember exactly.But, then, WE CUT TO MICHELLE WILLIAMS WEARING A SUIT.I repeat: 1) Michelle Williams is in this film?! 2) MICHELLE WILLIAMS IS WEARING A SUIT AND TIE. AHHHHHHH! And, bam, outta nowhere comes the next moment of Women in Menswear Fall 2018 Cinema. What a dream. 


And, oh ho ho, looks like someone agrees with me, because Tom Hardy's first line in this whole dang film* is the following:

"You're wearing a suit. I love it when you're wearing a suit."
You and me both, buddy! You and me both!*Might not actually be Tom Hardy's very first line. I cannot be bothered to remember, and no one is paying me to make these reviews accurate.****Upon second viewing of film, I can confirm that that is indeed Tom Hardy's first line in the film.Let me just say that I my grading of this film may have been utterly compromised by the first five minutes which are an honest-to-god onslaught of things like Michelle in a suit and Tom Hardy riding his motorcycle around while he investigates the plight of homeless people in San Francisco. I was hopelessly enamored. I was sitting in my seat eating a hard-boiled egg (I hadn't had breakfast OR lunch, okay), and chuckling to myself ever so slightly, because I NEEDED THIS. We may have put a bad man on the Supreme Court, and we have mere years to turn around climate change before all hope is lost, and we may (etc etc etc) but at least I got to sit in a comfy seat for less than two hours while Tom Hardy pretended to be Charlie Kelly pretending to be an investigative reporter.I have to acknowledge my beloved Malakie for mentioning to me before I saw the film that Tom Hardy sounds like Charlie Kelly (from Always Sunny in Philadelphia) in this, BECAUSE OH. MY. STARS IN HEAVEN. He is not only literally mimicking Charlie's voice, but also his mannerisms, and gait, and hair, and gross dirty clothes. And, now, I literally cannot stop thinking of Venom as an extended episode of Always Sunny.Actual scene that 100% happens in Venom:
 Pure cinematic magic.
Really, cinematic magic is the only appropriate way to describe the entirety of Venom, and my response to it. Overall, it was really, really, really dumb. But, on the other hand, I would love to personally hand Tom Hardy an acting award for his performance. Not an Oscar, but definitely a Golden Globe.Tom Hardy was the filling and the crust in the pie that was my enjoyment of Venom. This joker comes off as 100% self-aware in his life, yet he also absurdly commits to every character in every film. But, then again, sometimes that commitment is so wildly off-kilter and unexpected that on anyone else it might look just a bit like OVER-commitment. For Tom Hardy, however, it works.He gives his Eddie a ridiculous mumbling accent that can literally only be described as Charlie Dayish. His mannerisms are all jerky, quick arm movements and slumped head tilts. He ambles.  There is a sweetness and gentleness to Eddie that differentiates him from other comic book antiheroes (or whatever they were trying to market Venom as being). There is certainly a fully-decided character (with all of Hardy's typical acting embellishments), but at the same moment--it is imaginable that we are seeing just some of Tom Hardy too--the amiable, mumbling guy who doesn't enjoy press interviews and really just wants to chill with some dogs.
 





It is a mistake to think as a viewer--or even as a "fan"--that we know or understand an actor's personal character or inner integrity or something. We do not. Even if it seems someone is playing "themselves" on the screen--typecast again--they are likely just playing a version of themselves for public consumption. However, there is still a relational value to that experience for the viewer; the fan. Humans needs connection. We need to feel we are a piece of the messy machine of the planet. Every act of daily connection reaffirms that placement. Film lovers siphon connection from our viewing experiences. We see things we love in a scene or performance: art that gives joy. But, we also form connections to the people creating the things we love. So-and-so is your favorite director, because it feels like they made that film for you. Whoever is a favorite actor, because when she laughs onscreen--you feel genuine joy. These are legit responses. These are legit relational connections.All of this heady and unnecessary, and likely confusing to no point, philosophizing is there to give perspective on just how I could have so enjoyed a film like Venom?!It's because of the filling and crust of Tom Hardy. He imbued this Spiderman universe side-character with a uniquely Hardyian sense. He ambles and grunts and trips and mumbles and flails and tries again. He is a sweet boy.Eddie seems to have no human connections apart from Michelle Williams' Anne, a homeless woman named Maria, and a local store owner named Mrs. Chen. It's no mistake that all of his relationships are with women. Even his ally on the inside of the evil science org is Jenny Slate's Dr. Skirth.Eddie's rescuer at multiple points in the film is Anne. Part of this plays as the annoying emotional (and physical!) labour women are too often called to over-perform even on behalf of an ex-fiance who lost them their job via his own selfishness, but a big chunk of it is simply that Anne is competent and able to figure out what needs to be done.There is a moment that I loved (the one other line I jotted down in my memory aside from the suits thing). Anne is understandably just like, "what the heck, man. you are out of control, etc etc." And Eddie simply replies in guttural mumble:
 "I'm scared, and I need your help."
Now, that, is a Tom Hardy classic. It's the same reason Max silently offering Furiosa his shoulder because she is the better shot is such a quietly iconic moment in Fury Road. There are other male action heroes who have symbiotic (gotcha!) and deferential connections with competent female leads (just wait until I someday write that blog-series and/or book [lol which is more unlikely] on Keanu's action films), but not many. And definitely not ones who appear as gruff and intimidating as Tom Hardy.
 It's a necessary moment in Venom, because honestly, almost all the actual Venom moments are different shades of stupid, dull, and laced with a humour fermented in the stereotype of a noxious 13-year-old boy. It is Venom who uses feminine slurs to insult (to uproarious laughter from both audiences). It is Venom who commits all the fashionable violence, and asserts the male right to rage. What I am saying here is that Venom was quite annoying, and so clearly this was not a perfect film or anything (also, some casual racism in the connection between Mrs. Chen and the hoodlum extortionist).YET, STILL. I had the time of stinkin' life. I wish I could explain myself to any proper sense. It is as if an AI was told to write a mediocre early 2000s comic book superhero movie, but it got confused and just mashed together random elements, and sorted it in a typical superhero movie narrative arc, and planned to plug on through to mediocrity and indifference from all audiences. But, then, Tom Hardy just plopped into the middle of it--and he COMMITTED. And, here we are: a ridiculous, absolutely unnecessary, 100% outdated, dangerously close to mediocre movie that transformed into a sublime delight (and unexpected box office success).The people love ridiculousness. They love Michelle Williams wearing a suit. They love Jenny Slate's squeaky-voiced scientist. They love Riz Ahmed as a smooth and slippery evil genius (his version of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac is riveting). The people love Tom Hardy!I really need to delve more into this film. I would tell you all about the body horror (Venom's tongue is haunting), and Eddie's ravenous scavenge through his freezer of potato products, and that scene when Eddie shushes everyone in the restaurant so he can go sit in a lobster tank in peace. I would tell you about sexyladyVenom (whyyyyyy), and the dog who saves Eddie, and about all the direct correlations between Always Sunny. I would tell you about Michelle Williams' ridiculous wig, and the delight of watching Tom Hardy walk down streets talking to himself. I would talk some more about Michelle Williams' suit and tie. A lot more about them. Really, I would love to just take you out to coffee or chai or something and just tell you about my personal relationship with the film Venom. I assure you: it's a relationship, not religion. Verdict: I do not love Tom Hardy too much, but the exact right amount. And, no, I will not cry thinking about his sacrifice in Dunkirk, okay. HE WAS SO BRAVE. OMG. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The fall.


Hi pals,

It is I, the prodigal blogging child, returning once again to the scenes of my greatest triumph (if you call spending the entirety of one's teen years blogging about Gidget and Godzilla and Ralph Meeker at 3AM a triumph--AND I DO!).

I have to tell you. I never make New Years Resolutions. I just do not think about it. But, this year, 2018, I decided to make a resolution. I would write something--either here or on my personal site--once a week. Just something. I needed a creative outlet while caught in the midst of a very stressful and demanding job. Well, lolz, that has not happened.

My creative output has almost completely been limited to writing pithy Insta captions like three times a day about random thoughts that fly through my brain (mainly about any time I do anything with my cool friends, and also about how Messi and Suarez love each other, and sometimes about movie things), and also to writing Letterboxd reviews (you can read a review for every single film I have watched this year--no matter how embarrassing).

But, I have truly missed you all. I have a million and one hot-take essays bubbling in my brain. But, I am also tired--so very tired. It is a cliche, but the world is a mess. I take it quite to heart. I have known the world is mess since I have known the world, but even so I lived with a little hope. Example: I could watch the ending of Children of Men (2006) and feel peace about it. Now, it is just a little bit like, NEVERMIND. WHAT IS THE POINT.

But, anyway. Of course, I am still me, tattooed with the words, "Let justice roll on like a river," because I cannot live any other way.

Y I K E S.

Well, now, I am very afraid that I am gonna have to tag this blog with the occasionally used "Millie's being maudlin again." Whoops.

LOVE YOU! *insert kiss emoji*

I cannot promise that I am  really back, but look, I am using a rare afternoon off (the first in a few weeks) to talk to all of you, because I am chilling on a lovely autumn at my favorite coffee shop and it seemed the thing to do. (If I post a photo of my hair--we will have completed a classic Millie narcissism brace. Speaking of classic braces--Messi completed one against Tottenham this afternoon with some help from Suarez, BECAUSE THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH).

Anyway.

I saw Lizzie (2018) this morning. Not so good. AT ALL. Chloe Sevigney and KStew were good in it, but like, what was the point, and why was it directed by a man? SHEESH. I didn't even get any women in menswear moments. (And, also, I got carded for being possibly under-17, because the box office guy said I had "a very youthful look." UGHHHH.)

Cinematic women in menswear have been having a MOMENT this fall, and wow just be still my beating heart.

Out this week, Colette (2018) gave us Keira Knightley killing the suit game. Although, cruelly, it was only for a few moments in the span of the film (I blame the man directing this film for this egregious error, and also for the other egregious problems with this film--none of which have to do with Keira's stunning, magnetic performance).


Also, though, check out Keira at the Sundance premiere giving us Joel Grey in Cabaret realness.



Anyway, love you, Keira! Thank you for being you! 

To the rest of you peasants: I don't necessarily recommend rushing out to watch this in cinemas, but def check it out at home later. If only to spare yourself the difficulty of containing your laughter in public as my beloved and dear Eleanor Tomlinson attempts a Louisiana accent (my goodness! Darling, no!).

However, earlier in September, we were all rewarded with Blake Lively exclusively in menswear for almost the entire duration of A Simple Favor (2018)--a film I actually severely recommend if you enjoy delicious ridiculousness and/or looking at Blake Lively in menswear. 





^possibly my current phone lockscreen background (I am a young professional with the mobile to match.)

I have hopes for the next women in menswear Fall '18 cinematic moment! But, where will it come from next? Send in your confidential tips to my Insta DMs (I hope we all know that I have not checked this blog's email in at least two years). 

This seems as good a moment as any to mention that a couple of weeks ago I was dressing for the day and grabbed a shirt I had bought at the thrift store a few weeks ago for an dress-as-your-favorite-flavor-of-White-Claw party (Ruby Grapefruit, fyi) I attended.

I realized then, what I hadn't realized before, which is that it was a ruffly white shirt straight from Roger Moore's 1971 closet.


^this is me attempting unsuccessfully to raise one eyebrow. I am no Eunice Gayson. *sigh*

The real shock of this situation though was that I took this photo before I left for work and then tried to find an image of Sir Rog in a ruffly shirt on the Google to pair it with for an inevitable Insta post, AND COULD NOT. How is that even possible?! He wore nothing else for like three years, but whatever. This recap is mainly a brag that I totes am ready to star in a remake of Crossplot (1969), and also I have been completely let down by Google Image Search. 

Anyway.

Also, btw, on August 5th, I tripped off a curb crossing the street--and then couldn't walk for a whole month, and I am still in an ankle brace as we speak. (Speaking of a brace, let me remind you again about the beautiful brace Messi completed today with the selfless help of his #1 bro Luis.) I had a pretty chill knee scooter I used to navigate around my world--but, man, Seattle HAS A LOT OF HILLS. I still feel a cold sweat about going down some of those hills.

While I was laid up with my foot elevated and nothing to do for literally weeks (except for when I roused myself out to do work and all that), I intended to get back into blogging. But, I was so tired, so I didn't.

Instead, I watched a lot of Netflix and Hulu. Mozart in the Jungle was delightful (I might love Gael Garcia Bernal more than Diego Luna now, but the jury is still out, and Diego has that new season of Narcos coming out soon plus this video compilation of him talking about how much he loves Jabba the Hutt!), and Castle Rock was utterly terrifying (damn you, Andr√© Holland and your empathetic eyes for drawing me in). I also received so many cheese sticks via grocery delivery services! THANK YOU, FRIENDS (including some friends of the blog, like my dearest Casey). But, seriously, so many cheese sticks. Please, if you live in Seattle, come to my apartment and take home some cheese sticks!

Speaking of apartments, I just celebrated this week one year of not being homeless! I cannot properly explain the joy of having an option to come home--and there is something there. It is v. legit.

Okay, I am gonna wrap this post up, because I haven't said much, and I have even less on the top of my brain.

Here are a few things I think you should be interested in if you want to live as me for the day.

Watch:


Dream to Believe (1986)


I LITERALLY CANNOT OVERESTIMATE HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM IMMEDIATELY. THIS VHS COVER SAYS "A MODERN-DAY MUSICAL IN THE STYLISH TRADITION OF FLASHDANCE AND FOOTLOOSE, WITH THE INSPIRATION AND SPIRIT OF ROCKY." YET, I ASSURE YOU, IT IS A GREATER FILM THAN ALL THREE. Anyway. Please do watch this. I won't say more, because I am playing to screenshot the heck out of it and write something about the fashion here.

Read:

The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery


This is a perennial autumn favorite. I haven't managed to read it the last couple of falls, so it is coming out this year. The coziest, yet full and soul-reaching mood imaginable. "Find a new riddle, if riddle you must." (My next tattoo?)

Listen:

Process - Sampha

This album is so beautiful, and lovely, and right. It is also perfect for walking the streets of Seattle on a crisp, likely drizzling fall day. (Also, speaking of fall, at my fun job [aka managing the Egyptian Cinema], I made a Spotify playlist called Bob Dylan Autumn [v. subjective on the autumn] to play in the lobby with no regard for anyone else's feelings. EASY RESTS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THIS CROWN!)

Anyway, coffee-shop is gonna close in like 40 minutes and I am already tensely looking around and making sure I am making a show of packing up, because I used to work in a coffee-shop and anyone who comes in/hangs around in the last hour is the absolute enemy.

Hopefully, I will pop in again soon. LOVE YOU ALL (all meaning the four people who will read this, and you absolutely know who you are).

Cheers,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bradford Dillman.



April 14, 1930 – January 16, 2018

It has taken a few days for me to write down my thoughts about Bradford Dillman's passing. It has been difficult for me to find the correct words to express what I wanted to say, and what I needed to say. I will start by saying he was a good actor. Indeed, he was an extraordinary actor--never once giving a bad or uninteresting performance. He seemed to take absolute delight in his work, and it always showed. 

He referred to himself as a "Safeway actor" (anything to put food on the table), but that masks his actual abilities to craft distinct characters out of even extremely poor or bland scripts. He took ridiculous melodrama and made it sublime. He took boring, steadfast characters and hinted at depths of something else--perhaps something just slightly crooked and off-putting. 

Sometimes, all it took was a smile. A perfectly timed, slightly askew smile




That smile took a man who could have been destined for stolid romantic lead roles, and sent him straight into crooked, "wait, is he the villain?!" land. In Bradford Dillman's acting world, there is no overplaying or underplaying--there's just perfectly crafted characters. Each one so unique and utterly entertaining. 

It is certainly true that some actors rely on sheer charisma to build their performances and connect to audiences. Charisma alone can be greatly entertaining--and even powerful. But, then it lacks depths and can lead to monotony. That is the danger of a charming performer: what happens when it just stops being charming? There is nothing else left.

Bradford Dillman never had that problem, because he methodically used his charisma and charm to malicious ends. He brought the audience closer, closer, closer--and then removed his mask and bared his evil smile...or sometimes it wasn't evil at all.  He used it in service of gleeful egotistical murderers, and broken dupes, and trying-to-be-empathetic husbands, and unreliable narrators, and pious saints (hahahahaha!), and adorable architect dates for Mary Richards, and languid supervillains with ridiculous plans, and southern gothic werewolves

These are just a small sampling of the variety of roles Bradford Dillman played with skill and delight. He is one in a line of overwhelming, brilliant, and charming character actors--who can just as easily steal a scene as lead a film. He is the heir to Peter Lorre and the predecessor of Michael Shannon. Perhaps, if he was working today, Bradford Dillman would be enjoying a career like Shannon's--playing complicated good men and complicated bad men in prestige dramas and genre films alike. (It is remarkably easy to imagine Dillman playing Michael Shannon's toxic, complex, and vicious villain in 2017's The Shape of Water.)

Bradford Dillman brought life to mundanity and fun to dullness. He was and remains deeply underrated and even unknown.

That unknown reputation of Dillman's is the reason behind why it took me a few days to write this post. Somehow, it is easier to speak your feelings loud in moments of global, collective grieving. When a beloved famous person dies, everyone gets to say something--and be heard--and no one has to stop and think of the purpose behind their grief. 

But, here, Bradford Dillman died. And aside from a few good friends (most of whom had been indoctrinated in appreciation of The Dill Man by me), no one cared. Suddenly, my sadness at his passing seemed misplaced and self-serving. I did not know him, I never interacted with him, and I dearly hope he never googled his name and found this blog riddled with ridiculous, exclamatory posts and seemingly endless tribute videos. 

Indeed, why was I sad? Nothing in my life had changed. He had already retired from acting just a year after my birth, and he had lived a long and full life--leaving this world surrounded by his family. 

But, there's the source of the grief: he left this world. 

Each human is so deliriously unique and extraordinary, that each loss is of a person who won't exist again. A substance of something that is gone forever. 

I think that is why we so mourn the actors and performers and artists when they die--no matter their longevity. It is perhaps self-focused, but it is to the credit of the person we lose. 

For me, Bradford Dillman wasn't just an extraordinarily talented and individual performer--he is moments in time. He is memories of where I was, and who I was with, and how I felt. He is friendships struck (love you forever, my Dill Man co-conspirator Niamh!). He is thoughts I mulled over, and words I furiously typed at 3AM. (There are posts on this blog mentioning Bradford Dillman that go back to me at age 15.) His performances are not just displays of art or skill or entertainment--they are pieces of the mosaic of my life and personality. 

There is grief, because there was life and art and joy and ridiculousness and power and fun and love and slightly bent evil smiles.

Here's to Bradford Dillman, who never knew I existed (unless he did Google his name and/or actually read that likely very off-putting fan letter I sent him when I was like 13), but has been something of substance in my life nonetheless. Rest in peace and light, cool man. 




^Watch one of my "great" Bradford Dillman tribute videos.


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