Thursday, March 31, 2011


Check out these great animated short films:

The Invention of Love (2010)

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
Nicky Phelan

Oktapodi (2007)

This Side Up
Dir. Liron Topaz

Rodrigo Blaa


Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, 1905.* Her father abandoned the family before Lucille was born, and shortly after her birth the family relocated to Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, Lucille’s mother remarried Henry J. Cassin – who Crawford believed to be her biological father until much later in life. Cassin owned a movie theater, which gave Crawford and her siblings their first experiences with motion pictures.

After dropping out of Stephen’s College, Crawford began touring as a dancer with theatrical troops. Wanting more exposure, Crawford approached Nils Granlund, the publicist for Loews Theaters. Granlund arranged a screen test, which he then shipped off to Hollywood. At the time, Crawford was a stout 5’3’’ and 145lbs. After getting in shape, she was offered a contract with MGM in 1925 at $75/week.

At the beginning of her film career, Lucille LeSeuer – now Joan Crawford – was unhappy with the roles she was receiving. Most were secondary characters with few lines. In order to assure better roles for herself, Crawford initiated a Hollywood-wide self-promotion campaign. She appeared at Hotels and dance halls, calling for dance competitions and contests. She took the floor by storm, doing 20’s dances such as the Charleston. Crawford quickly became known as a “flapper”. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of her:

“Joan Crawford is doubtless the best example of a flapper, the girl you see in smart night clubs, gowned to the apex of sophistication, toying iced glasses with a remote, faintly bitter expression, dancing deliciously, laughing a great deal, with wide, hurt eyes. Young things with a talent for living."

Studio executives at MGM caught wind of Crawford’s campaign and cast her as Irene, a chorus girl, in Sally, Irene, and Mary (1925). By the late 1920’s Crawford was as big a movie star as any and the highest paid women in the United States.

Though she fell out of favor in the 1930’s, she made a comeback in Mildred Pierce, for which she won the Academy Award. She continued acting until the 1960s. She was married four times and adopted 5 children.**

*The state of Texas didn’t require a registered birth certificate until 1908, allowing Crawford to claim that she was actually 3 years younger. Though she claimed her birth year was 1908, a 1910 Oklahoma census notes her as 5 years old, making her likely birth year 1905.

**Though Crawford adopted 5 children, one was reclaimed by his birth mother, and the two eldest were disinherited by Crawford.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In a scene-study class last night, we arrived to the intimidating question: why are you here? Why had we chosen acting - or anything else, for that matter - as a professional path? The room swelled with lofty answers about spirituality and passion, to which I roll my eyes. I don't doubt the sincerity of those answers, but there has to be something more honest. It became clear that, for me, the beauty of film - as a sum of its parts - is story. The art of storytelling is ultimately most fascinating to me. Whether you inhabit the life of another person as an actor, conceive of a world as a writer, or compose a visual narrative as a director, the different roles have a similar goal: to convey story in a truthful, emotional, honest, interesting, and (let's not forget) entertaining way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


via: Nevver
 Farley Granger died yesterday. He will best be remembered for his performances in Hitchcock's Rope and Strangers on a Train.


The Hangover II, will be released in the United States on May 26th, 2011. This, of course, is sequel to the widely acclaimed The Hangover, released in 2009. The first film, which cost only $35M to produce, raked up an international gross of $467,416,722, making it the highest grossing R-Rated comedy in the United States, ever. The Hangover II has big shoes to fill.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Lady Gaga turns 25 today. To celebrate, she donated $1.5 million to Japan relief. Happy to you, too.


Trailer for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris


Guillermo del Toro is one of a triad of Mexican directors (including Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón) whose work has garnered success on the international stage. Born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, he was predominantly raised by his grandmother. Like most Mexican households, Catholicism played a pivotal role in his upbringing and would become a strong motif in his creative work. Del Toro began studying film as a teen and quickly became interested in make-up and special effects. He worked as a make-up supervisor for nearly 10 years, while pursuing his career as a writer/director. In 1993 he wrote and directed his first feature, Cronos, which won an astounding 9 Mexican Academy Awards and the International Critics Week prize at Cannes. The success of the film caught the attention of North American studios. In 1997, Miramax offered del Toro $30 million to direct his second feature, Mimic. Not long after his first brush with Hollywood, del Toro returned to Mexico to start his own production company, The Tequila Gang, and direct The Devil’s Backbone – the first of a number of films set during the Spanish Civil War. 

His most celebrated film to date is Pan’s Labyrinth, which received nearly universal acclaim. At Cannes, it was met with a 22 minute standing ovation and was nominated for 6 Academy Awards.  The film, also set in the Spanish Civil War, stays in del Toro’s thematic vein of magical realism and weird fiction. With an artistic style all his own, del Toro plays with themes of monsters, religion, insects, fantasy, and imagination. His most recent venture is Mirada, a multi-media company and collaboration space designed to bring talent together to create original content (digital, television, film, etc.). He spearheads the company with long-time cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, producer Javier Jimenez, and director Matthew Cullen. Mirada is established in conjunction with Motion Theory. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's now infamous love affair spanned 20 years and two marriages. The tumultuous romance was complicated by their mutual dependency on alcohol, but there is no denying it was a tremendous love - the kind of love that inspires art. Here are some excerpts from Richard Burton's love letters to Elizabeth Taylor.

"I lust after your smell … and your round belly and the exquisite softness of the inside of your thighs and your baby-bottom and your giving lips & the half-hostile look in your eyes when you’re deep in rut with your little Welsh stallion" 

"One of these days I will wake up--which I think I have done already--and realize to myself that I really do love. I find it very difficult to allow my whole life to rest on the existence of another creature. I find it equally difficult, because of my innate arrogance, to believe in the idea of love. There is no such thing, I say to myself. There is lust, of course, and usage, and jealousy, and desire and spent powers, but no such thing as the idiocy of love. Who invented that concept? I have wracked my shabby brains and can find no answer."

"You must know, of course, how much I love you. You must know, of course, how badly I treat you. But the fundamental and most vicious, swinish, murderous, and unchangeable fact is that we totally misunderstand each other ... we operate on alien wave-lengths. You are as distant as Venus--planet, I mean--and I am tone-deaf to the music of the spheres. But how-so-be-it nevertheless. (a cliche among Welsh politicians.) I love you and I always will. Come back to me as soon as you can ...”

From his diary:
"In my poor and tormented youth, I had always dreamed of this woman. And now, when this dream occasionally returns, I extend my arm, and she is here ... by my side. If you have not met or known her, you have lost much in life."

“A girl sitting on the other side of the pool lowered her book, took off her sunglasses and looked at me. She was lavish. She was a dark, unyielding largesse. She was, in sort, too bloody much, and not only that she was ignoring me. Her breasts were apocalyptic, they would topple empires.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011


If You Forget Me

I want you to know one thing.

You know how this is:
If I look
At the crystal moon, at the red branch
Of slow autumn at my window,
If I touch
Near the fire
The impalpable ash
Or the wrinkled body of the log,
Everything carries me to you,
As if everything that exists,
Aromas, light, metals,
Were little boats
That sail
Toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
You forget me
Do not look for me,
For I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
The wind of banners
That passes through my life,
And you decide
To leave me at the shore
Of the heart where I have roots,
That on that day
At that hour,
I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off
To seek another land.

If each day
Each hour
You feel that you are destined for me
With implacable sweetness,
If each day a flower
Climbs up your lips to seek me,
Ah my love, ah my own,
In me all that fire is repeated,
In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
My love feeds your love, beloved,
And as long as you live, it will be in your arms
Without leaving mine.

-Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Elizabeth Taylor died today at 79. "I'm a survivor" she once said, "a living example of what people can go through and survive." There will never be another Hollywood icon quite like her.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Kathryn Bigelow
My film theory classes in college had a female-to-male ratio of - easily - 2:1. Ironically, my experience on set is the reverse, and then some. Certain categories in film appear to be dominated by men, case-in-point: film direction. Historically speaking, film direction has been a man's job. That is, if measured by awards. For some reason or another, female film directors fly under the radar, despite having made some of the most critically acclaimed, well-received films.

Still from Near Dark
Still from The Hurt Locker

Female directors are most commonly associated with making indie dramas, but this is not the case. Kathryn Bigelow is a perfect example of a female director who makes "men's movies"-- that is to say, she makes high-adrenaline, action films. She is one of four women ever to be nominated for best director at the Academy Awards (along with Lina Wertmuller, Jame Champion, and Sofia Coppola), and the only one to win (in 2010 for The Hurt Locker). The Oscars are the highest profile award, but Bigelow also made history as the first female to win best director at the DGA and BAFTA awards. Early in her career, when Near Dark was still in development, studios doubted Bigelow's ability to handle such a gritty, violent story. So she went out to prove them wrong, test shooting one of the more violent scenes: a shoot-out between vampire and non-vampire groups, which ends in a combination of bloody wounds and burning flesh. The studio execs ate their words. Bigelow went on (and continues) to make critically acclaimed thrillers, not to mention cult classics.

Still from Deep Impact
Kathryn Bigelow isn't the only female to break the genre/gender boundaries. Mimi Leder's Deep Impact, the action thriller about the imminent destruction of Earch, places her into a Bigelow-esque category. Aside from action films, female directors have made some of the most treasured comedies, sports and animated films, for example: Penelope Sheeris's Wayne's World, Penny Marshall's Big, Vicky Jenson's Shrek, Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation.

Sofia Coppola
In fact, some of the highest acclaimed films of the last couple years have been directed by women: Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids are Alright, Debra Granik Winter's Bone, and Lone Scherfig's An Education.

Still from An Education
Despite the high praise and success of movies directed by women, film direction is still a man's game. Hopefully, we can change that in the future.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Photos via

Cristopher Walken

Dennis Hoffman

Geoffrey Rush

Gregory Peck

Mick Jagger

Montgomery Clift

Paul Newman

Peter Postlethwaite

Sean Connery 

Steve Martin