' Cinema Romantico

Friday, February 24, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: Totally Unreasonable, Completely Legitimate Oscar Predictions

In his Oscar predictions for The New Yorker, Richard Brody writes that he “balance(s) punditry with pessimism - I’ve learned to assume that my favorite films won’t win.” Richard, buddy boy, we learned our favorites don’t generally win a long, long time ago. And that is why in our Oscar predictions we balance punditry with absurdism and favoritism.

Totally Unreasonable, Completely Legitimate Oscar Predictions 

Best Picture: Moonlight. I usually like to be humorous and/or snarky with by Big Oscar picks because I just can’t take these sorts of predictions seriously. But it's so rare that one of my actual favorite movies of the year is an actual contender that I just can’t bring myself to be humorous and/or snarky this year. So I’m picking “Moonlight” while also calling up Vegas (not really) and putting $25 on “Hidden Figures.”

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. See above.

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle. It’s not her “time”, but maybe it should be her “time.” In other words...wait your damn turn, Stone!

Best Actor: Denzel Washington, Fences. Say hello to Meryl, Jack and DDL as they greet you at the oak door, Denzel, of the cozy neo-Georgian edifice in an undisclosed Malibu location. Put your stuff in your locker, settle into your wingback chair and pay homage to the portraits of Ingrid, Walter Brennan and The First Lady of Cinema. You’re gonna be in the The Three Timers Club, my man.

Kidman Bias prevents us from making the logical pick. We have no regrets & we do not apologize.
Best Supporting Actress: Nicole Kidman, Lion. I like Viola. I liked in Viola in “Fences.” I think Viola will win. I want Viola to win. Even so, my heart will be with Nicole, now and forever.

Best Supporting Actor: Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals. To root against your Favorite Actor is to betray The Cause.

Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea. To paraphrase George Costanza driving home from the Westchester flea market while bragging about his next-level driving skills, Kenneth Lonergan is doing things in his “Manchester by the Sea” script “THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA ARE GOING ON!”

Best Adapated Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight. See seven places above.

Best Foreign Language Film: Toni Erdmann. Though I can only assume the fates are now firmly on the side of “The Salesman”, “Toni Erdmann” (review coming eventually), like Ms. Kidman, has my heart.

Best Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro. Because this is the Oscar night victory speech America needs to hear.

Best Animated Film: I have a four year old source who tells me to go “Zootopia.”

Best Production Design: Jess Gonchor & Nancy Haigh, Hail, Caesar! From the Good Luck Bar in Los Feliz to the ornate, empty Roman-era sets on a Hollywood backlot, this one should be untouchable.

Best Cinematography: Bradford Young, Arrival. “Arrival” is simultaneously a humongous movie, given it centers on first contact, and an intimate one, considering its seen principally from the viewpoint of one character. And Young’s cinematography repeatedly finds ways to personalize a global event.

Best Editing: I’m sitting this category out in protest of Sandra Adair not being nominated for “Everybody Wants Some!!”

Best Visual Effects: John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, Rogue One. Are you kidding me?! They brought [redacted] back to life when we needed her (uh, or him) the most!!!

Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace, Hacksaw Ridge. Kevin O’Connell has gone 0-21 at the Oscars. He was nominated for “Top Gun” which, as everyone knows, is the greatest sound mixed movie of all time and yet somehow still lost. If it is not Mr. O’Connell’s “time” then, my God, whose “time” is it?

Best Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray & Bub Asman, Sully. Those sounds of an engine-less plane drifting the Hudson...boy, that’ll put a drop in your stomach.

Best Costume Design: Joanna Johnston, Allied. See above.

Best Makeup/Hairstyling: Eva von Bahr & Love Larson, A Man Called Ove. I suspect this was nominated because of Old Man makeup, and fair enough, but in categories like this it's just not my speed to go for obvious picks like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Suicide Squad” even if I understand those two films require a lot of hard makeup & hairstyling work.

Best Original Score: Mica Levi, Jackie. The score is loud and insistent, telling rather than underlining which itself underlines how this movie so ably telling us about how Jackie Kennedy told us the story of the Kennedy’s as Camelot regardless of whether or not that was myth or reality.

Best Original Song: Oh, the who the hell knows. I hate this stupid category. I always hate this stupid category. (Exception: when Lady Gaga is nominated because then I love this awesome category!) So I will pick “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls” without even listening to it so I can imagine it as an homage to “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon. (Reader: “You know that’s a Justin Timberlake song, right?” Me: “I TAKE IT BACK!!!” Reader: “Too late, dude. You already submitted your ballot.” Me: “I hate this stupid category.”)

Best Live Action Short: After many years of being entirely up to speed with the live action short nominees, I completely failed for the second year in a row. And because I have no great bead on any of these, I will simply follow the timeless rule of “Summer School’s” Dave Frazier who, when push came to shove on the climactic test, just wrote in “B” for every answer he did not know. Meaning I will select the second short listed on the Oscar web site - La Femme et le TGV.

Best Animated Short: Pearl. 360 degree video, which is how Pearl was filmed, is also sometimes called Immersive Video, which feels apropos because it immerses you in the life of a father and daughter on a road trip for life, given you all manner of views from their window as they cruise the country. Its bohemian spirit might rub some the wrong way but I went all in on this short yet expansive ride.

Best Documentary (Short Subject): The White Helmets. No one has blathered more than me about the absurdity of nebulous criteria such as “importance” when it comes to Oscar nominees but these are perilous times, man. And as the country I call home seems to have fallen under the thumb of a burgeoning isolationist, giving this award to a movie that so ably and harrowingly shines a spotlight on selflessness only seems right.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: The Ruffalos

Back in the halcyon days of Bill Simmons’ late (best) web site (ever) Grantland, when I checked it as regularly as my Midwestern forefathers would check weather reports, and before it all went to pot in the name of ESPN giving its First Take ass clowns that much more money, my favorite podcast on the Interwebs was the aforementioned site’s liltingly titled Do You Like Prince Movies? It was hosted by Pulitzer Prize winning film critic Wesley Morris and ace culture scribe Alex Pappademas. And in the run-up to the Academy Awards of two years ago they bestowed their own set of acting prizes affectionately called The Ruffalos.

Mr. Morris and Mr. Pappademas did not define the criteria for their awards so much as just sort of shout out random guidelines in the discussion, but that was part of their charm. Ruffalos went to “People who aren’t getting nominated for anything.” To earn one “you gotta be playing the background a little bit,” or maybe not since some of the recipients were more in the spotlight rather than the background. And whatever, because The Ruffalos were more ineffable, something less stately and more tossed off, make-believe statues concerning a life-force that was more indelible than mere pomp. And because Grantland and, in turn, Do You Like Prince Movies? have been shuttered, Cinema Romantico, this itty bitty blog that most people stop reading at the first sign of a ham-fisted Keira Knightley reference, has taken on the task of keeping them alive. We did last year and we do again this year.

The Ruffalos go to.....

Gil Birmingham, Hell or High Water. Playing a Native American detective made to endure his partner's offhand but very authentic bigotry, Birmingham plays it with the same sort of droll semi-peace with which he seems to view the whole white mans world.   

Jack Reynor, Sing Street. If so much of John Carneys latest ode to the power of music is about youthful rebellion, Reynors turn as a slacker with mounds of emotional regret burbling beneath the lazy surface emphatically evokes what happens when the rebellion is over.

Zoey Deutch, Everybody Wants Some!! In an otherwise all-male movie, Deutch does not make her presence known by being one of the boys or by playing hard to get but by simply existing as who she is, even if she is still in the process of figuring that out.

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences. Playing the longtime consligiere of Washingtons protagonist, McKinley Henderson grants his character a charitable acceptance of his pals bloviating that you can tell, in little snippets, did not come easy.

William Jackson Harper, Paterson. As a bar regular nursing a broken heart that just wont heal, Jackson Harper’s amicably downbeat nature makes his bursts of so-called rage both laughable and sweetly sad. And when he delivers the most reductive idiom in human history - “The sun still rises” - damn if you don't, just for a second, sort of feel where hes coming from.

Rosemarie DeWitt, La La Land. Less blink and you’ll miss it than don’t squint and you might not see her, DeWitt nevertheless barrels directly into the movie with such a vivacious energy and tell it like it really is mentality as the sister of  Ryan Gosling’s main character that you desperately wish she would have stuck around longer as the straight-shooter perched on his other shoulder. 

Glen Powell, Hidden Figures. Granted, “Hidden Figures” is, as the full title of the book on which it is based clearly states, not once again all about John Glenn and his orbiting of Earth but about “the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” But then, that is exactly what I loved about the performance of Powell, who plays Glenn with an easygoing smile that the whole time seems to be saying “Why am I here?”

C.J. Wilson, Manchester by the Sea. It is a virtuoso rendering of the Hes Just There performance, the guy who’s there for support, who won't let you down, good natured and a rock, even if Wilson lets you sense that somewhere underneath it all he is nobly sucking it up and putting aside his own problems to tend to yours. 

Matthew Broderick, Manchester by the Sea. In a one scene walk off, Broderick exudes his peerless ability to turn a small stare or an innocent line reading (“Did you get any stringbeans?”) into a backstory of volumous prickliness.

Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals. Linney does not steal the film, because Michael Shannon has already stolen the film by the time Linney arrives, but she nonetheless owns her cameo with cold hard steel. Linney wields the lifetime of knowledge that goes hand in hand with being the mother not as a means to give guidance to her daughter, but to instead lord it over her daughter with an icy glee.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: Cinema Romantico’s Film Location Awards

Film locations, if you’re choosing to get off the set, which is, of course, so much more common in these days long after the studio system in which all manner of movies were shot in rigidly scheduled time on cavernous backlots, becomes crucial. Consider Michael Mann, who often shuns soundstages for the real world, finding places as off the beaten path as the mountaintop conclusion to “Last of the Mohicans” (which is literally off the beaten path – I know because I hiked to it) as famously a jaw-dropping locale as the Iguazu Falls in “Miami Vice” or as unassuming yet memorable a place as the coffee shop in “Heat.” You listen to Mann on the director’s commentary track for “Miami Vice” talk about capturing real images of Colombia’s downtrodden discarding Styrofoam from packing boxes in the street, which he nimbly contrasts with images of the high-rolling Range Rovers of a big-time drug cartel, and you can hear him lighting up. I can only imagine how many houses Mann scouted to find “Heat’s” house on stilts in East L.A.

Film Locations are no joke, which is why each year the Location Managers Guild International bestows its LGMI Awards in which they honor the “creative contributions of location professionals and film commissions from around the world.” Well, Cinema Romantico wants to do this too. Cinema Romantico did this two years ago, as you may or may not recall, but forgot to do it last year, which we considerably regret. (We would have cited Donut Time in “Tangerine”, Max’s Steaks in “Creed” and, of course, the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton in Michael Mann’s “Blackhat”.) So today we re-engage with our aspiring tradition of honoring the best in the year’s film locations, IORO (in our ridiculous opinion).

2nd Annual Cinema Romantico Film Location Awards

Moonlight: Jimmys Eastwide Diner, Miami

The concluding scene in which two characters who have not seen each other since childhood is essentially a stepping back in time, which the setting, this little diner with its tiffany lamps, red & white curtains and vinyl booths, economically and colorfully underlines.

La La Land: Rose Towers, Long Beach

One of the criticisms I have heard levied at La La Land, which has principally come from actual Los Angelenos, is that the film is only interested in some whimsically fantastic version of L.A., not the real L.A. I liked La La Land, though Im not overly high on it, but this is one complaint I find difficult to receive. Isnt it called La La Land because its not the real L.A.? And though the Rose Towers, where Emma Stone’s aspiring actress dwells, might be real, director Damien Chazelle chooses them because their pink exterior mingles so majestically with the myriad colors he puts on screen through the sky at twlight and the colors of the characters' clothes during the movies most breathtaking scene.

A Bigger Splash: Coste Ghirlanda, Pantelleria

Among the oldest and most compelling reasons there is to go the movies, film critic Dana Stevens once wrote, is watching something (w)ed like to be doing too and (knowing) this is as close as were ever gonna get." I thought of that line when the primary quartet of Luca GuadagninoA Bigger Splash sits down for dinner at the mind-bendingly picturesque hillside bistro. Sigh. If only...

Paterson: Paterson Great Falls, Paterson, NJ

The day after the Presidential Election, I was on vacation in the Minnesota hinterlands and my family and I went up to Grand Portgage State Park on the Canadian border. Because it was early November, there were very, very few people around, giving me the chance to stand in the presence of the High Falls of Pigeon River and simply close my eyes and......listen. God, that sounded good, the ceaseless churn of the water over those rocks 120 feet up. It was a noise to get lost in, to subsume all the nasty thoughts roiling in your head into more cleansing, uplifting ones instead. I thought that must have been the feeling Paterson the Poet of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson” was seeking when he wrote in his notebook while sitting before the Great Falls.

Hail, Caesar!: Good Luck Bar, Los Angeles

I had no intention of including this on the list because I had simply assumed The Coen Brothers dreamt up their in-movie Chinese restaurant from scratch. But no! It was actually the Good Luck Bar in L.A.s Los Feliz neighborhood. Read a few reviews of this place, however, and not just the obligatory they didnt have bendy straws so this place sucks laments on Yelp, and it might instead make you hesitant. Of course, thats also what the movies are for, turning something real into something mythical.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: Best Song Reimagined

Today Cinema Romantico re-imagines the slowly-becoming-irrelevant Oscar category of Best Song as if it was one combined category and the songs did not have to be “original” or fit some other antiquated piece of Academy criteria and I and I alone was judge and jury in regards to the five nominees. (Note: this is the sixth consecutive year I have proposed an alternate Best Song category and this is by far the most impressive set of pretend nominees).

“Dancing in the Dark” by Kathleen Hanna and Tommy Buck in “Maggie’s Plan.” A certain sort of Springsteen fanatic will, as the Youtube comments on the above link suggest, quibble with the quality of this particular cover. Fair enough. I dig it. And I also dig it because in the film’s context it is sung at a ficto-critical conference in Quebec. And I dig that because it suggests that while so, so, so many boring reactionary Springsteen fans prefer dismissing this song because of the synth or because of the video writer/director Rebecca Miller is well aware “Dancing in the Dark” is actually a literary masterpiece.

“Moon Is Up" by The Rolling Stones in “A Bigger Splash.” Let Ralph Fiennes tell it in the best movie monologue of 2016: “I can tell you a little story about my contribution to Rolling Stones history. Just after Darryl came in and I was working with Don Smith, who’d done a lot of Keith’s solo stuff with me and we were at Windmill Lane in Dublin and it was raining. Non-stop Irish rain, it wouldn’t fucking stop and I was quitting smoking, so it was coffee, coffee, coffee and this song, which you are going to hear, it just wasn't fucking working. Keith is insisting no drums, you know? We’re working away and I think, no, no, I go to Keith and I say, ‘Okay, so can Ronnie do a track on pedal steel?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, but no drums.’ So I’m thinking ‘What the fuck!’ So I give Mick castanets. So you’ve got Chuck Leavell on the harmonium and everyone is folding in all this beautiful shit, but this song is not taking off, so I say to Keith, ‘Do you trust me?’ He goes, ‘yeah.’ ‘If I promise no drums, can we do a percussion track?’ He says, ‘What’s Charlie going to play?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What is Charlie going to play?’ But I’m asking myself what’s the sound, something, not too crisp and I look over and I see in the corner...Wait, what is it? It’s not a drum. It’s a trash can. It’s an aluminium fucking trash can. So I put Charlie out in the stairwell, we put a mic three floors up and Keith’s shaking his head ’cause he knows I’m right. As soon as Charlie starts banging on it, we’re off. A can for trash. Human evolution in the key of C.” (Bonus: listen close for Keith’s laugh at :11 of the song, which I will now always imagine is him incredulously laughing at Ralph Fiennes being so right.)

“Just in Time" by Nina Simone in “Krisha.” Songs can mean different things to different people in different contexts and so I am admittedly fascinated by how this same song concludes my beloved “Before Sunset” on a beautifully, dangerously romantic note and how in “Krisha” it becomes the truly terrifying trigger for a human monster movie moment. You can watch the whole scene here, but you should probably just watch the whole movie first if you have not.

Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang in Everybody Wants Some!! Unlike the famed music-as-healing “Tiny Dancer” sing along in “Almost Famous”, this rap along exists in an explicit vacuum, where the boys will be boys ball busting of before and after briefly gives way in a Sugarhill Gang ceasefire. What’s more, director Richard Linklater lets this scene go a few beats longer than it probably needs to, which is absolutely perfect.

“Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis in “Moonlight.” Ann Powers wrote about the moment for Slate and no one, let alone me, can describe it better. She writes: “The song he picks, Barbara Lewis’s 1963 droplet of longing ‘Hello Stranger,’ works that clock-stopping magic: Suddenly the two men are in a zone where no personal history or social circumstance can hurt them, and they can begin to open up. It’s a disconcerting moment even within a film grounded in the imperfect logic of memory. Returning home, I pulled out my old Barbara Lewis compilation and read the liner notes: Fascinatingly, ‘Hello Stranger’ has had a Southern afterlife, it turns out, becoming a favorite within the “beach music” scene in the Carolinas. Kevin really might have found that song on a Miami jukebox in the 21st century. The complexity of Jenkins’ musical choice, creating a plausible nostalgic moment that felt like both a fairy tale and a real person’s spontaneous attempt to resurrect a dream, reminded me of how people use recordings as time loops every day.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Countdown to the Oscars: 5 Moments That Made the Movies in 2016

Is there anything more noxious than corporate team-building exercises, attempts by synergy shamans with powerpoint presentations and comprehensive handouts at the behest of higher-ups who do not care in any way, shape or form about who their underlings really are to force those underlings to forge some sort of faux-bond that could be severed at a moment’s notice since everyone - who are you again? - is expendable anyway. Ugh. In “Toni Erdmann”, however, which spends much of its considerable running time deconstructing and skewering the impersonality and inanity of corporate culture, the team-building exercise gets viciously, hilariously sent up, melding management training with an “Eyes Wide Shut”-style soiree which is gloriously WTF? as it sounds, finally, at long last, making “adaptability”, “problem solving” and “trust building” count for something real.

Pablo Larraín’s “Jackie” is based on a real person – that is, Jackie Kennedy, Mrs. John F. Kennedy, First Lady of the United States. But it is also very much not about a real person, more about a myth, the one she shrewdly sculpts to preserve her husband’s legacy in the immediate aftermath of his terrible death, but also her own myth, which we see her shaping during and after. You see this in the movie’s most incredible shot, during the famous funeral procession, which becomes not a march to the cathedral but to Camelot, which Larraín sets at a low angle, looking up, with the gleaming sun at Jackie’s one o’clock and her black veil fluttering in the breeze, revealing her face and then obscuring it again. No, it’s not new to demonstrate the power of the moving picture to allocate immortality but what the hell’s wrong with a finely rendered reminder? Nothing, that’s what, and that’s what this is. She is Natalie Portman; she is Jackie Kennedy; she is a Movie Star. 

There are myriad moments in Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women” that revel in reticence, but none more so than the anti-climactic cum climactic drive Lily Gladstone’s nameless Rancher takes in her truck. This happens immediately after she has made an impassioned if terribly awkward confession, kind of, to the lawyer (Kristen Stewart) on whom she has a crush. The lawyer, distracted and perplexed, does not even seem to quite know what is happening just as the Rancher does not quite seem to know what she is doing or saying, essentially retreating before she is even finished saying it. And once back in her truck, the whole spectrum of human emotion, every last one on the Emotion Classification chart, mixes and matches on the face of Gladstone, an astonishing rendering of how agony can lay us bare. 

So much of “Moonlight” is centered on the idea that the lives we lead are a product of the circumstances into which we are born, and no matter how much we may try to resist or get out, we are pulled in anyway, powerless. This is illustrated by the way in which the movie comes full circle in the plight of its protagonist Chiron, underlined by the way in which the camera often circles its characters, and vigorously brought home in the scene where Chiron’s self-appointed sort of mentor and emotionally fraught mother meet in the street. She needs to buy drugs; he sells drugs; he chastises her for buying drugs when she has a son; she chastises him for selling drugs when he looks after her son; so it goes. They stand there, her growling, him grimacing, both right, both wrong, a quick, indelible re-telling of a never-ending story.

As the 2016 American Presidential Election drew nigh and then unspooled, story after story appeared in all manner of publications about small town Americans being left behind and counting on our newly elected to President to remake this country the way it was. But what was ain’t coming back, it never is and it never does, and Texas Ranger Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) in “Hell or High Water” coulda told you that. A Native American, he is subject to much pointed joshing from his not inconspicuous racist superior Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), most of which washes over Alberto, not because he’s indifferent but because his people have been screwed over so long, with so much of the screwing over coming so long ago that no one wants to be bothered to remember. Not that he is about to let Marcus forget. In a scene set on the corner of a four corner town across from a Texas Midlands Bank, Alberto can only shrug as Marcus laments the way of life dying all around them. “One hundred and fifty years ago,” Alberto says, “all this was my ancestors’ land. Everything you could see. Everything you saw yesterday. Until the grandparents of these folks took it. And now it’s been taken from them. Except it ain’t no army doing it.” And with that, he directs his index finger toward the bank.

“It’s those sons of bitches right there,” he says.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shark Steak Sandwich

One of the more underrated Movie Presidents is Jeff Bridges’s Jackson Evans in “The Contender” (2000). Forced to choose a replacement Vice President after the current VP has passed away, Evans settles on Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen, fire), a woman, obviously, which, obviously, unleashes the wrath of so many insecure white good ol’ boys in position of power. This leads to all manner of political machinations, with Illinois Congressman Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) and President Evans playing what amounts to a high stakes game of governmental. “I’ll die before Shelly Runyon checkmates me,” says Evans, which is simply one of the best political movie lines you will ever hear, signaling that all these events on which the fate of the republic (and the free world) hinge are less about you and me and everyone else then settling personal beefs and demonstrating whose balls are brassiest.

Bridges plays this idea for all its worth, laying the charismatic smarm on thick, a guy who is in control and wants you to know he is in control. He demonstrates this control with food. Seriously. Anyone Evans invites up to the Oval Office is immediately met with a Presidential overture of food, not as a peace offering but as a “Look What I Can Do, Sparky” alert. We see this most memorably when President Evans takes a meeting with Delaware Congressman Reginald Webster (Christian Slater) who is part of Runyon’s Vice Presidential Confirmation Committee and who, like Runyon, is showing great resistance to Hanson. Before they dive into politics, however, President Evans shows off the impressive edible material in his hand.

Evans: “You know what this is? That’s a shark steak sandwich. Fucking shark steak. You want half?”
Webster: “Uh, no, thank you.”
Evans: “Are you a vegan? Had lunch?”
Webster: “Uh, no—”
Evans: “So you choose not to break bread with the President of the United States?”

So sure, Webster chooses to break bread with the President, taking half of the Commander-in-Chief’s shark steak sandwich, managing a small bite while Evans hovers with a “Mine Are Bigger” look on his face before they fall into conversation where Evans, in so many words, and quite a few more, tells Webster to back the fuck off his gonna-be VP. And all the while that shark steak sandwich lingers like a culinary threat.

I thought of this when Chris Christie revealed that President Trump, hosting the New Jersey Governor for dinner at the White House on Tuesday, ordered for Christie, explaining they would both be having the meatloaf. I liked imagining Trump as a variation of Evans, using the White House Chef as a kind of negotiating tool, lording his position with ground meat. Going further, I like imagining Trump, pettiest of the petty, doing this all the time, ordering the New York strip steaks of foreign dignarities and bootlicking congressmen well done because “everyone prefers their steak well done, as you know”, and then cancelling the Congressman’s order of a Malbec for a Diet Coke instead because “Diet Coke goes very well with steak, believe me.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

keira knightley wearing a hat (and wearing a scarf)

It was just announced that “Love Actually”, the Richard Curtis cinematic sugar plum fairy from 2003 that tends to turn swaths of movie lovers into the Montagues and the Capulets, trading insults and drawing swords, would be getting the sequel treatment – the short sequel treatment, that is. This got many people wondering many different things, of course, but it got Cinema Romantico wondering if Keira Knightley would be wearing a hat in this sequel because Cinema Romantico has famously contended that Keira Knightley’s Hat in “Love Actually” could engender world peace if only people would stop screaming for five seconds about how much they abhor empty rom com calories and just……look. So I asked on the various platforms of the social media interwebs, will Keira wear a hat?

My friend Daryl suggested that perhaps Keira would not wear a hat and that I, a completely impartial critic who is simultaneously totally biased in Keira’s favor, would fall all over myself to praise this tactical costume change-up, probably calling it something like, say, a mixture of transplendent and stupendous – call it, stupsplendentous. This wouldn’t be inaccurate. But the thing is, for all this blog’s Keira Knightley In Hats flattery, we are just as aware of how she pretty much slays any form of clothing like a silver screen Kate Middleton, just as she slays in any sort of role period because Keira is transformational.

Keira, see, does not figuratively (literally) shapeshift like Day-Lewis. No, she has a timeless quality that allows her to function equally brilliantly in period pieces and modern fare. This is why Cecilia Tallis’s emotional repression that eventually gives way is strikingly akin to Joanna Reed’s, just as I swear, if you look close, Elizabeth Benet and Gretta James possess the same sort of sunny ferocity. And though that might make it sound like her performances across the eras are the same, she provides distinctive shading to each character to set them apart, like Cecilia passionately plunging ahead and Joanna cautiously easing forward. That shading, of course, extends just as ably to costuming, where Keira can cycle through all manner of wardrobe choices, past or present, while making each one not merely believable but so damn fetch.

For instance...

Keira Knightley in a hat.

Keira Knightley in a scarf.

I just blew your mind.