Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

~ Note: Contains Spoilers ~

                If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion. - Noam Chomsky


For me, what makes Jakob the Liar such a worthwhile endeavour is not the impressive heft of the cast, the fastidious accuracy to historic detail or even the elegant pacing of the film: it's the central message of hope.

I know you're all about to roll your eyes at my (once again) unabashed admiration of Liev, but tough. Suck it up.

Once you realize that the Doctor has clued into Jakob's tale, you're set on watching each of the other characters to see when they too will get it. Perhaps that's why I was watching Liev so closely. Um, yeah, that's why. ;-

Nothing captured the feeling of possibility in this film more than the glint of hope that bathed Liev's eyes (see screen caps below) in almost every scene. I absolutely loved his excitement and wonder over the possibility of something new... a reason to go on. When Mr. Frankfurter brings over the trusseau pengnoir it is as though the deal is sealed. Mischa is then unstoppable. It was a truly beautiful metamorphosis.

I mean, let's face it, the audience saves its most visceral reactions for the character who's not in on the secret. And that's Mischa.

After reading many (many) articles about Liev, I've noticed that for him the Holocaust is load bearing subject. He has been called a "Talmudic Jew" by friends - which you can take in many different ways. To me, it means a Jew who enjoys a more applicable and less.. uh.. mystical path of study. When asked to speak about his Grandfather or any Holocaust Survivors in the family, his details are slim to none. Of course, without a tone of voice on the written page by which to gauge his reticence, we are left wondering. And the bottom line is it's none of our business.

But what does resonate is that Holocaust stories carry a deep responsibility for Liev. As a result, and in order to make a more profound contribution, he seeks roles which are not typical within the genre.

I really, really admire this in Liev.

We will never know how much of his own personal history Liev draws upon, but I have to feel that it's a factor. I'm not speaking to a Stanislavski system of "getting there," but instead a reason for taking it on in the first place. In any case I'm glad he did.

Liev aside, there were some brave choices in this film. The jaunty Keystone-Cops-meets-Fiddler-on-the-Roof tempo of the score that ran through Act II gave us as viewers permission to relax and even choke out a couple of giggles. This well earned levity, not unlike Daniel Craig's most deadpan "Again, I have no idea what you're talking about" in the movie Defiance is genius respite for the well invested audience.

I must admit to cringing at the little girl asking Jakob if she could listen to the radio. When Jakob hid behind the room divider, I felt a big multi-charactered soliloquay coming on. The thought of Robin bellowing out a "Goooooooooood Morning Krakow Ghetto.." had me frozen in fear. Thank goodness he dialed it down and we were spared that hepped-up-on-goofballs hysteria.

Looking back at my notes, I see that the apparant deus ex machina of the nazi officer in a position to be blackmailed by Jakob was a device that only served to make us hope for Jakob's life a few minutes more. I get it but I wish it had been dragged out a bit longer.

There are no happy endings in Holocaust movies. But perhaps an ending where Joseph was able to perpetuate his optimistic ruse, surrounded by those who had become family, was as good as it was going to get.

All in all I'd say it was a courageous and contributory film and I feel very enriched for having seen it. Some sweets pics of our boy to close tonight.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mother & Sons

** CONTAINS SPOILERS **

Yesterday, I woke up wondering about my Stepson. He's lived with us since pre-school and sees his Mom only a few times a year, so he is as close to me as my own flesh and blood. This was the first year where I felt the acute sting of in-laws: he spent Christmas Dinner the night before with his girlfriend's family. Even though we were 24 people here, it left a hole.

Then, in the afternoon, I watched The Manchurian Candididate. I mean really watched it. I used my remote to go back and dissect possible non-sequiturs, I made notes and even looked up reviews at the end.

Liev's performance was, of course, bang on.

What left me feeling restless was the relationship between Raymond and his Mom. Not unresolved in that I was looking for a warm fuzzy. I just felt unsatisfied that we did not learn more about their history, his deceased father, and why Eleanor was the way she was. For me that was the real meat of the story.

I realize Raymond's hypno/metalurgic/pharmaceutical (?) induced state means that we only ever see glimpses of the possibility of the real him, but that's where I found myself wanting more.

The scene (saturated in angelical bright light) where Eleanor is wiping him down was so pervasively creepy I could not help but shudder. Enhanced by Liev's incredibly childlike demeanor, Eleanor's surfeitive need for him, and that entails, was so gross I literally wanted to hurl.

Yes, I do tend to have reactions to resplendant acting which are far beyond cerebral. This is sometimes a good thing, sometimes not.

After dinner we wrapped up the day with a few episodes of Shatner's aptly titled Raw Nerve. At one point with Kelsey Grammar as guest, Shatner shares a story of his own Mother. He speaks to us of a 7 year old Bill asking his Mom who she loves more, Shatner or his Father. Apparantly she answered "Your Father." And when he asked why, she replied "Because he buys me presents."

This makes me wonder: what do we women do to our sons? For the most part, we're so good at being vocal about our feelings and needs - do we forget to stop ourselves before steamrolling haphazardly over theirs? And what do they submit to every day just to have a role as a man in our lives?

I know my Son struggled with the decision to go to his girlfriend's because he waited until the last possible second to tell me. Concerned about my feelings, but also afraid of dissapointing her: the girl he loves.

Now all I want this morning is for my son to get home so I can make him some ham and eggs and hear how it went and let him know that he did good.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inventory

There's something so sweet about the Boxing Day hangover, isn't there?

The kids are off with friends. The dog is basking in a tryptofan induced coma, farting to beat the band and making us all face the overindulgences of yesterday. My husband, caught breathless by a chinook arch that's filling our prairie sky like a giant smile from God, is off shooting pictures. The turkey is burbling away in its pre-soup spa stage on the stove.

I'm curled up in my new Archie Comics pajamas, nursing a coffee with just a splash of Grand Marnier. (Hair of one of your finer dog's, I guess).

And Liev is on the TV.

Who knew life was going to be this fan-fucking-tastic?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...(Last One)

... my Liev gave to me:

Formidable Forest Families Fighting Fatherland Foes for Freedom from Fascism.


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Free Video Hosting

Tom Gilroy ~ My Hero

I opened my front door this morning and, lo and behold, a Christmas Miracle by way of a mysterious package from NYC! Inside is a two-page hand written (yes, that's what I said) letter from Tom Gilroy, writer and director of my favourite film of late, Spring Forward.

He also sent me another extra special gift: an autographed Spring Forward screenplay.

So, yeah, I guess Santa is real and life is pretty friggin' good.

Hope you are all feeling the love tonight. ♥♥♥♥♥

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Liev Stands on his head for HBO!

Once again Liev brings a behind the scenes look at the game of hockey alive in HBO's Road to the Winter Classic.

Whether it was watching Dupuis and Crosby in their hotel room (Crosby asking permission to fight HAHA), Ovechkin's pulled hemmy, submitting to another arduously long serious of F-Bombs from Boudreau or staring at the new face of hockey (Matt Hendricks without a doubt), this show has it all.

For all my gushing over Liev's fabulous voice, he actually disappeared behind the net. I kept taking my eye (ear?) off the Liev Puck and once again found myself engrossed in the show for its own merits.

Great to see Lemieux (finally), Calgary Boy Mike Green and a game in my hometown, or as Liev calls it: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Sorry Sens).

Great work Liev! LOVED IT!!!!

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

... my Liev said to me:

Deliciously Depressed Dichotomous Dudes Dancing Delicately Despite Dainty Dresses.

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Pissing Me Off!

I know looking at any photo of Liev is intoxicating, and Liev the Family Man twice so, but please stop sending me photos from Australia. I'm not running a gossip blog. That's not what this site is about.

Let them have their holidays in peace, please.

LEAVE THEM ALONE.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Liev is Illuminated

Finally got my DVD of Everything is Illuminated yesterday.

Whoa.

Warm. Husky. Tragic. Charming. Saturated. Deliberate. Clever. Atmospheric. Sweet. Gut-wrenching. Whimsical. Transformative. Rich. Engulfing. Horrific. Perfumed. Familial. Osmotic. Critical. Protective. Zeitgeist.

After my recent and abundant Liev-ducation I’ve seen a lot of The Man in short order. I’ve gazed upon him in a dress; I've watched him make a bloody mess. (Okay, yes, enough Dr. Seuss.)

The point is I’ve spent some time illuminated by different versions of Liev on the outside. So, I was particularly intrigued at the prospect of looking at Liev on the inside. (No, this is not referring to an episode of C.S.I. We’ll get to that another day.)

Schreiber is German surname meaning "scribe" or "writer", often compared to English Clark or Clerk.

And what could be a better way to understand this Schreiber than by experiencing his writing? My only problem now is that I have not read the original novel. So, I have no point of reference or yardstick with which to gauge his genius.

Dum de dum… off to amazon.ca for the 600th time this month. Stay tuned. ♫♪



Monday, December 20, 2010

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...

... my Liev gave to me:

Exhausted Ex-Espions Exponentially Eradicating Eastern European Extremists.


Shakespeare, You Kiss Your Mother with That Mouth?

Sometimes, when Kevin's really tired, he's too lazy to read his own book and gets me to read from mine aloud. He's been less than enthralled with my current enthusiasm towards the Bard. Until last night. Cymbeline has piqued some interest.

He asked me to re-read this part a couple of times. Boys...(giggle)

This is from ACT II, when Cloten brings in the musicians to woo Imogen awake (in the bedroom next door).


************************************************************

CLOTEN
Winning will put any man into courage. If I could
get this foolish Imogen, I should have gold enough.
It's almost morning, is't not?

FIRST LORD
Day, my lord.

CLOTEN
I would this music would come: I am advised to give
her music o' mornings; they say it will penetrate.

Enter Musicians

CLOTEN
Come on; tune: if you can penetrate her with your
fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too: if none
will do, let her remain; but I'll never give o'er.
First, a very excellent good-conceited thing;
after, a wonderful sweet air, with admirable rich
words to it: and then let her consider.

************************************************************

xo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...

... my Liev gave to me:

Magnificently Masculine Mensches Miraculously Mastering Musical/Marital Melody.


On the Seventh Day of Christmas...

... my Liev gave to me:

Victoriously Velvet Voices Vehemently Vending Vast Vehicular Virtues.



Sorry ~ had to partake in some Christmas libations tonight so no video. (My Mama told me never to drink and blog). This is just a little something to feast your ears on instead. xo

Friday, December 17, 2010

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

... my Liev gave to me:

Serenely Smiling Sons Suffering Seriously Sinister Senators.

Thanks a lot F%CKBOOK!

Someone has hijacked my Facebook account!! As a result I'm getting calls from Friends all over the world asking me if I'm okay.

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm NOT in London, I have NOT been mugged and I do NOT need your emergency money.

Also, thank you all so much for your fabulous birthay wishes. ♥♥♥

SO sorry for the panic and SMOOCHY SMACKS to you all!! xoxoxoxox

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

... my Liev gave to me:

Dogmatic, Dignified, Dishy Directors Donning Delightfully Dapper Duds.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Liev the Life Preserver?

- CONTAINS SPOILERS -

I've mentioned here before that I run a home for low income seniors - mostly vets. I know many of you also work jobs which are so consuming they literally spit you out at the end of the day. That is the way of my life. My family is very supportive, but when it's particularily bleak they urge me to leave and that's not the answer. For me, it's about coping not quitting. So, my movies are something I cherish with an almost voracious protectiveness. I get to hit the back button on my day and fill the blank space however I please. And in those times when I'm monosyllabic by 4:00pm, God help you if you get in the way of me and my remote.

Not every film is going to do it for me every time. Certain films are called upon in certain moments. Are we always looking to be educated or enlightened? The beautiful, magical thing about the entertainment world is that there's room for Schindler's List and Pauly Shore. It's up to us.

The other day, after hearing grimmer-than-grim news about an 89 year old friend with whom I've shared the paper every morning for the last 6 years, it was fitting that my amazon.com order arrived. I got home that night and delved right into Spring Forward. Auspicious timing? You bet. But it was more than that. This film actually beckoned me over, letting me know there was a place for my head in the crook of its arm.

It used to be that when I got a sense I'd really hit a homer and a film was blowing me away, my first instinct was to start writing copious amount of notes and questions, which I would then try to answer in the course of viewing. I'm deconstructing the story as it permeates the room. And the wannabe in me needs to know where the stakes were first raised and other technical stuff.

Watching Liev's Paul throw a wobbler and run into the woods made me pick up my pen and drop it just as quickly. I was not ready to start dissecting just yet.  As I continued to absorb this gem of a film, I realized that it's about human connection. And since that's the name I gave this website, it all just sort of fit.

There's a moment when parentheticals and performance straddle each other. The bad films are the ones where that crossing feels cumbersome and clunky. Not at all the case here. As someone who's passionate about screenplays, I found myself (after 2 more viewings) needing the deets. I'm dying to get a hold of a shooting script! I haven't found one for sale anywhere on the internet.

Did Liev feel Paul slipping over from annoyance to piqued interest in the moments when he decided to ask Georgia out?  I've watched it over and over, and it's so subtle that you cannot pinpoint it. One minute he's anxious to meet the car guy, the next he's fumbling around, awkwardly not-sitting on the kitchen chair. At first I thought it was the dog that disarmed him; but I think it was actually Georgia speaking to affection. "Well, that hungry little puppy sure loves you." He needed to hear those words.

Did writer/director Tom Gilroy urge Liev to look at the neighbour with disdain when he came outside for a smoke at Bobby's funeral? Or was that something Liev came up with on his own? For some reason it plays like an organic decision on Liev's part.

When Paul gives Murphy the pendant and says it's the symbol of family, he's really sticking his neck out. I loved the way Murphy, who initially avoided this little exchange, followed that up with "What's it mean?"  He knows that for Paul he has been family, and I adore the way he wants the point reinforced.

Most of all, what I love about this movie is what isn't said. When Murphy tells the story of Bobby putting his head on his shoulder in church, Paul responds with a tale about his own miserable father. And without Paul having to utter the words, you know he means that Bobby was an incredibly lucky son.

Liev's performance in this movie broke my heart in 100 ways. I will make a list if enough people ask. Paul is the kind of character I want to write about, and this is the kind of world I want to live in. So, there's another jewel that I can keep tucked away to myself for those days when life is full of sharp edges and bad smells.

Merci beaucoup, Liev. The prospect of coming to work today was a harsh one and your perfect delivery of the line "You kind of go with the flow there, dontcha Murph?" while partaking of your most tasty and potent hoot on the park bench makes me giggle every time I think of it.





Sunday, December 5, 2010

Orson 2.0 Upgrade

Apologies in advance for the shameless eyelash batting that will no doubt ensue but what's a girl to do? Last night I had the privilege of watching RKO 281. Twice. In a row. With no bathroom breaks and only a lukewarm glass of water by my side.

Let's start by thanking Liev for the fabulous and long overdue upgrade. The new version is working much better for me.

In the wise words of Mr. Ray Parker Jr.: Who you gonna call?

 


A few years ago my husband and I made it a goal to watch all the shows on the AFI's list. (Okay, yes, we're still a few short). We were surprised to find that we had already seen many of them before we met. However neither of us had the fortitude, thus far, to conquer Citizen Kane. Yes, it is on the list and yes everyone claims to love it but if I'm honest, clips left me feeling ambivalent and as a result I had always balked.

Of course we loved it and kicked ourselves for not having given in sooner. It's like the tourist trap thing - because it's that good.

So, to appreciate that film is a great start. To admire Liev and think of him being in the movie behind the movie; even better. But, to be afforded the pleasure of 121 minutes of Liev looking so dapper in sculpted hair and perfectly tailored suits, his clean shaven face lit just-so? Perfect.

And that VOICE.

There are no (more) words...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Language for Stage

Today's NY Times features an interesting article about the language of theatre which resonated with me after my recent and swift Liev-ducation. Back-to-back Liev gives you a unique perspective on his abilities. In many interviews Liev refers to his preference for formality in language; he says he enjoys the rigor of it. I can relate to this. There are days where I will speak only in French just because it feels good. I'm usually running around my house at the time...

The author of this article comments on how jarring it can be to hear a production with people whose language is all over the map. But isn't that kind of the Nature of the Beast? This brings me to the subject of what they call (ed?) the Transatlantic Language. Sometimes referred to as the Great Equalizer, it is the very thing that made you wonder if Kathryn Hepburn (Connecticut) was really British born. To today's North American ear it's a Brit, through and through. But for the English, the pronunciation of certain words makes it irrefutably American. Think Charles Emmerson Winchester describing his beloved Bahhhhstun.

Liev is clearly skilled in many accents, British being no exception as I've seen (so far) in The Painted Veil. This New York Times article once again paints Liev in a positive light (they are averageing an article a month on him right now!YAHOO!) After having seen excerpts of Liev doing Shakespeare, it's clear that he has straddled the trick of the Transatlantic (when needed), which makes him acutely comfortable in all worlds. His portrayal of Macbeth is the perfect example. Jennifer Ehle's Lady Macbeth is completely unnaffected in accent, and would have clashed next to a very British Liev.

And anyways, Macbeth was Scottish. :-)

What does Transatlantic sound like? I'm pretty sure people from Philly don't speak like this: