Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Reinvent the Golden Globes

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Thank you Hollywood Foreign Press for choosing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as emcees of the 70th Golden Globes! The "Saturday Night Live" veterans put the Globes on a roll from the start.

Kathryn Bigelow’s nominated tonight. I haven’t really been following the controversy over "Zero Dark Thirty", but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron,” intimated Poehler.
The remark went around the room in cascades of astonishment and amusement.

Then there were those other standout moments:

"JLaw", quipped presenter Will Ferrell with Kerstin Wiig about best actress in a comedy Jennifer Lawrence. In a hilarious clearly unrehearsed skit, the duo took us through their experience of the films in the category they were presenting.
On Lawrence and memorable lines from her role in “Silver Linings Playbook”, Ferrell and Wiig were as equally impressed with her as the other nominees:
"That's my cookbook!" "You get out of here",  "And she means it!" emphasized the duo.
Jennifer Lawrence acknowledged in her acceptance speech:

Jennifer Lawrence
"Oh what does this say? I beat Meryl". Lawrence in effect was referencing "First Wives Club," the classic 1996 comedy on female bonding starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton.
"Harvey: Thank you for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here",  Lawrence exclaimed.
"To my brothers: I wouldn't have made it up here if you haven't been mean to me".
Well chosen words for the 22 year old actress. Go JLaw!  - a  beguiling actress with unexpected candor.

Back up at bat was Tina Fey on Anne Hathaway, best supporting actress in a motion picture:
Anne Hathaway, you gave a stunning performance in "Les Miserables" (best musical). I have not seen someone so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were on stage with James Franco at the Oscars.”
Hathaway particularly singled out fellow nominee Sally Fields who she applauded for resisting typecasting in roles from “The Flying Nun” to “Norma Rae”, to ‘Mrs. Gump’  to ‘Mary Todd Lincoln’.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone joked about their English language skills.
Stallone to Arnold: “You've been here how long? It's amazing”.

The Austrian drama “Amour”, was the winner for best foreign language film and director Michael Haneke thanked Arnold:
“I never thought to get an award in Hollywood by an Austrian", Haneke admitted. He also praised his actors Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva and declared that “the Golden Globe is for those fantastic actors”.

Claire Danes won best actress in a television series for "Homeland", her fourth Globe.
“Wow!" I have to thank the HFP for being so insanely supportive of me”,  Danes gushed.
“I want to thank the other women in this category who are so brilliant and have contributed to making television this rich place with really dynamic, complex, bold, female characters."

Add to that list the characters in “Girls” created by 26 year old Lena Dunham who won best actress in a television series. The HBO series is about  20 year old women in New York based on Dunham's own life experience.
Jodie Foster
The true star of the Golden Globes this year was Jodie Foster who won the Cecil B. Demille AwardRobert Downey Jr presented her tribute, teasing that as presenter he was as important as the honoree.  Foster acknowledged Mel Gibson as one of her dearest friends and revealed that she is now single and grateful to her ex-partner Cydney Bernard of 20 years, co-parent to her two children. The 'coming out' announcement is the first on a global level.

Jodie Foster in 'Taxi Driver'
Foster has been in the business 47 years and just turned 50. It would appear from her speech like she won't be on the screen much and wants to change direction, though backstage afterwards she stressed that she has no intention of quitting acting. A compilation of clips from her films included her Oscar nominated supporting role as a 12 year old. In a scene with Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver (1976) Foster inquires, "Didn't you ever hear of women's lib?"
Though not as eloquent as her previous Oscar speeches,  Foster's Cecil B Demille award was a moving experience, all the more because of her decision to speak about who she is in a public setting. Even to her mother, Foster told her she loved her. hoping it would sink in.  She still wants her privacy and after being in the business since she was three, she deserves it. But the level of sharing that Foster did last night was something special for all of her fans and admirers around the world. It was a rare moment for Foster and a gift to us all.
As the evening wore on, more and more references were made to the free flowing spirits in the room, and comments were frequently censored for national television.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain was more than gracious in her acceptance speech as best actress in a motion picture drama, especially when paying tribute to Kathryn Bigelow, whom she felt embodied her character Maya in "Zero Dark Thirty". Bigelow is the only woman to win an Oscar for director and her body of work consistently shows her ability to challenge and explore the terrain with great parts for women.
“You said that filmmaking for you is not about breaking gender roles but when you make a film that allows your characters to disobey the conventions of Hollywood, you’ve done more for women in cinema that you take credit for".
Another incredibly generous and compassionate winner with a beautiful acceptance speech was Daniel Day- Lewis, best actor in a motion picture drama for "Lincoln". The British actor reasoned that if Bill Clinton came to speak for "Lincoln" why not Queen Elizabeth making a last pitch for "Skyfall". (Adele won a Globe for the theme song of the latest James Bond film). Day-Lewis praised his "humble master" director Steven Spielberg in the role he will remember all of his life.
In the end, an overwhelmed Ben Affleck won the best director award for "Argo" that was voted the best motion picture of the year.
“Holy Cow, what an incredible company to be in", remarked director Mark Adams whose film "Brave" won the best animated feature. The comment  sums up the upbeat and entertaining Golden Globes this year, a pageant where the contestants seem to feel and display more freedom than they do at the Academy Awards, coming up on February 24.

Tina Fe and Amy Poehler had just the exemplary kind of talent, acumen and appeal that put the room into such great mood that everyone who climbed the steps put out their best. This is the mark of a brilliant awards show. It was an evening in which women were especially in the spotlight and the promise of continual and versatile, powerful roles from veterans Jodie Foster to Maggie Smith to newbies Lena Dunham and Jennifer Lawrence.

Lena Dunhan and cast of "Girls".


'The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey' is not a film for girls

'The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey' is not a film for girls

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", whether in 2D or 3D, on screen or on the pages of Tolkien's novels, is an epic for boys. The film opens in San Francisco this week. If you are a girl sitting in the audience it's an alienating experience. Most of the 13 dwarves are grotesque looking but the makers threw in a few attractive younger ones to soften the blow. The dwarves have all the excesses of ugly manhood: warts, unattractive bald spots, running snot, pot bellies, and all the horrible behaviors: grunting, overeating, drinking to excess and spilling liquids and crumbs on scraggly beards. 

Cate Blanchett gets made up for The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey
Warner Bros

This is a long film with lots of chase scenes and fight scenes given the age requirement of 21. Vengeance is on the minds of the dwarves. They have had their home stolen from them, and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the Hobbit from Middle Earth who truly loves his home, is going to help get it back for them. This is a good deed, and Bilbo makes up for the hideousness of all the CGI dwarves, trolls, necromancers, goblins and fat snarling wargs. 
There is one woman with a speaking part, and we are used to her by now in so many films that without even blinking you know it's going to be ...Cate Blanchett as the elf royal Galadriel who can communicate telepathically with Gandolf (Ian McKellen). Otherwise there are a few women who are mute flute players and of course servers and some frumpy hobbit women in long shots. If you lack anything to identify with you can at least take in the beautiful scenery of the film made in New Zealand - the green valleys, rugged foothills, dark mountains capped by snow and the elements. Mother Nature is there after all.
After yet another nearly all male cast of inflated spectacular claim, the only "unexpected journey" was an epic that doesn't speak to women because there is not much to identify with.The latest Middle Earth epic is a 21st century adaptation of 'The Hobbit' (1937), as are the two other planned sequels or rather prequels to 'The Lord of the Rings'. Tolkien's hobbit and dwarf women may be marginal, but far worse are the moviemakers of today who consider women in the audience invisible, or inseparable from the mass.This new 'adaptation' from Tolkien novels does not attract young girls today unless you are willing to identify with dwarf men, a giant wizard and all the largely male foes.
Don't blame this on the book. Hobbits are related to 'men', the younger children of Ilúvatar together with the elves, and dwarves are the older children of Ilúvatar. There were mothers, and sisters, aunts and grandmothers. There is the elf queen Galadriel who was the only woman make it into Jackson's adaptation. The dwarf 'men' wanted their women to be hidden in the mountain halls in order to protect them. When dwarf women did travel, they were disguised as 'men'. Moreover, as dwarves, the women had beards. Were any of the scriptwriters interested in this queer connection for today's audiences? 
There were also Hobbit women. Bilbo's parents were Belladonna Took and Bungo Baggins, One of the well-known Hobbit women is Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and there is Dís, named for the Norse goddess Hjrodis, goddess of the sword. Dís was the daughter of King Thráin II and sister of Thorin and Frerin. There is also Rose Cotton, wife of Samwise Gamgee. Together they had a daughter named Elanor, who after Samwise's death became the "keeper" of the "Red Book of March", the story of Middle Earth written by Bilbo Baggins. There are far more women in Middle Earth than we realize, but Jackson made them invisible. 
According to Kristy Guevara-Flanagan who looks at this phenomena in WONDERWOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, only 3% of the decisions to cast women in film are made by women. So a film that does not feature any women is planned for a specific target audience that won't mind that. Tolkien's novels have been criticized for their clearly insignificant women characters, but given the time period of the late 1930's this is certainly more understandable than why today's producers would make a blockbuster largely targeted for 21+ men. 
Director Peter Jackson has made a testosterone roller coaster ride. It does feel like three hours, since there is one obstacle after another and little time to recover in between. For the uninitiated it seems like there is just one obstacle left after so many. But that is not the case. Alas, there will two more epic installments through 2014. 
Will they get their gold back? Is it worth two more films to find out?


The "Bond Girls" in SKYFALL

Judi Dench as "M"
'Skyfall', which opens November 9 in San Francisco injects new blood into the 50-year James Bond cinema experience. Ever since the magnificent and audacious Judi Dench debuted as head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, James Bond has been in need of a makeover.  Dench's M refers to James Bond as a “misogynist dinosaur” and “relic of the Cold War” (Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 'GoldenEye') and in 'Skyfall' this scrutiny continues.
Judi Dench, 1968

“Orphaned children make the best agents”, says M, and she is as close to being the mother Bond never had than anyone.

In the opening scene of 'Skyfall', James Bond is in hot pursuit of a French rogue named Patrice, an assassin who works for a master hacker who constructs remote controlled time-bombs. The assassination of M is one of the targets for destruction and Patrice carries the microchip with the names of the others.

Patrice, played by Swedish actor Ola Rapace is the former husband of Noomi Rapace ('The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo') and both actors were promoted for the films by Swedish casting agent Tusse Lande. The Scandinavian influence in James Bond films is historic. Swedish actors have played Bond girls (Britt Eklund, Izabella Scorupco and Maud Adams) and two Danish actors play villains in 'Casino Royale' (Mads Mikkelsen and Jesper Christensen) and 'Quantum of Solace' (Christensen).

The main villain in 'Skyfall', Raoul Silva, is played by Javier Bardem, a former "00 agent" whom M found expedient, as she seems to have done with Bond by allowing an M16 agent to take aim while he struggles with Patrice on a moving train. When Bond and Silva finally meet, he brings up their mutual betrayal and asks Bond if it might be uncomfortable if he had to be touched by a man in the line of duty. “What makes you think I haven’t", retorts Craig in a real update for this “Cold War relic”.
It is not only M who finds Bond ancient, Bond thinks the same, for he challenges the wisdom of the younger equivalent of Q (played by the adorable Ben Whishaw) because of the “spots” on his face. This Q does not instruct about gadgets such as the special pens and watches used by previous Bonds. Instead his expertise is in computers with huge monitors, which should appeal to the under 30 crowd the Bond franchise is hoping to attract. Bond is clearly reinvented in each installment of their 50 year old history.

In this film, we eventually travel to James Bond’s family home, Skyfall, located in Scotland. His parents died in an accident while the young James hid in a secret pathway ("priest hole")  under their house. Albert Finney plays Kincade, the gamekeeper of the Skyfall manor. Casting thoughts went to Sean Connery for this role, which director Sam Mendes considered, but it would have been a nostalgic choice. Sir Sean Connery would probably have turned it down anyway. At any rate Bond's (Connery) Aston Martin is unearthed that debuted in 'GoldFinger' (1963), an artifact from the past that proves itself more than useful.

There are many things that make this Bond film one of the best, Daniel Craig, notwithstanding. Though Craig was sought out by Bond producers for quite a while before he said yes to 'Casino Royale', he is truly far from the dark-haired and tall Bond long associated with the character (excluding Roger Moore). Sean Connery and modern Bond Pierce Brosnan were the best archetypes. Craig already shows signs of aging: a gray beard stubble and a haggard, chiseled face.

After the shooting incident with Patrice, Bond has to prove himself fit for fight and although he doesn’t actually pass the M16 batteries of tests, at least to the unsuspecting public, he makes an excellent display of dastardly agent acumen with vulnerability. This sequence is to Craig’s credit and warms us up to him more than ever, as he is slated to play a few more Bonds.

The casting of Javier Bardem is indeed brilliant and his role as the demented bitter "ex-00" Raoul Silva is delivered with subtle and sarcastic humor, and is as impressive as Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin in 'A View to Kill' (1985).
The 'good' Bond girl Domino (Kim Bassinger) and the 'bad' Bond girl'
Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera)  in' Never Say Never Again (1983)

Skyfall's Moneypenny

Less impressive are the Bond girls who have minor roles. Doubling as a minxy M16 agent and in the end as the alluring new Miss Moneypenny is the African-Brit Naomi Harris, the “good Bond girl” in a new twist for Moneypenny.  The morose "bad" Bond girl is Bérénice-Lim Marlone (France/Cambodia), who plays Sévérine, Silva’s 'girlfriend' and 'slave'. Typically the 'binders of women' for nice Bond Girls have been white (21 out of 23) and for bad girls women of color or non-Anglo origin, (15 out of 23) with notable exceptions.

The fact that the 'Skyfall ' Bond women of do not play fully constructed characters with onscreen longevity that leave their mark such as Dianna Rigg (UK) as Teresa in 'Her Majesty's Secret Service' (1976) Barbara Carrera (Nicaragua) as Fatima Blush in 'Never Say Never Again '(1983), Grace Jones (Jamaica) as "May Day" in A View to Kill (1985) and Famke Janssen (Dutch) as Xenia Onatopp in 'GoldenEye' (1995) is a notable flaw of the film.

Bérénice-Lim Marlone as Sévérine,
We have Ralph Fiennes to look forward to in future Bond films who plays Gareth Mallory, a higher up head of foreign intelligence in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. However, there is not much inner charisma or pointed sarcasm to be found here.

'Skyfall' is set in Shanghai with exquisite art direction in the nightclub where Bond meets Sévérine, and in Istanbul and Fethiye, Turkey. Surrey, England is the site for the makeshift Scottish Skyfall estate (with establishing shots in Glencoe, Scotland and Berkshire, England) and many scenes were shot in London. Raoul Silva's hideout was shot on Hashima Island, Japan.

The art design by Chris Lowe ('Quantum of Solace'), especially in Shanghai, is modern and elegant. The cinematography by Roger Deakins (who worked with Mendes on 'Revolutionary Road') is beautifully executed, combined with the seamless editing of Stuart Baird who worked on 'Casino Royale'.

England’s very own Adele sings the Bond theme song “Skyfall”.

Director Sam Mendes, the mastermind behind 'Skyfall', distinguishes himself by making one of the best Bond films to date. Together with producer Barbara Broccoli, he assembled all the right talent and instructed them in crafting a brilliant film.
James Bond films navigate a time-honored pathway involving a series of challenges that agent 007 skillfully overcomes in exotic places with beautiful women, and in the end a brilliant master villain is caught with a big bang. This is the connaisseur Bond spectator reward and 'Skyfall' delivers on schedule.
'Skyfall' is brilliant gift for the golden anniversary of James Bond films Moira Sullivan, San Francisco -, November 9, 2012

The Malia Generation



According to Rachel Maddow, these are all the things we are NOT going to have with Obama in the White House, and Thank the People:


Rachel Maddow: a necessity for the 2012 presidential election

The election is just 3 weeks away! If you do anything to prepare for how you cast your ballot, follow Rachel Maddow online for her daily analyses of the presidential race; if you listen to anything, listen to her, since she really scrutinizes the media in depth about the issues. Not only does she take a close look at Mitt Romney she also watches  Barack Obama. You can listen everyday to the television broadcast on MSNBC online. 

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Republicans will do anything to roll back the clock, scale back women's rights with fundamentalist religious beliefs, increase the war budget, trash national health care --and all for the sake of not paying taxes to support necessary government programs (such as Medicare and Medical, even Social Security).  This elite group includes Romney who pays 14% tax.

Obama's message to the middle class to study how tax credits benefit only the wealthy should not fall on deaf ears...if it does, we will get the president we deserve for not fighting back.....

The issues are difficult to assimilate. Both sides deny what they say, and use the same attacks against each other.  Maddow's clever and witty style explores the rhetoric and behind the scenes truths of the political pundits. Rachel Maddow sees through this camouflage. It is really important to listen to someone who is not only a Rhodes scholar but one of the most astute political minds today. 

Maddow is a gay activist with a long term partner.  Her doctoral dissertation compared AIDS policies in the California and British prison systems. Her lifestyle is never an issue on the show; politics are. 

Not a Real Tango

Last Tango in Paris, (Bernardo Bertolucci,  Italy 1972)
Brando plays Paul. a grieving widower, consoling himself with distractions for a wife who betrayed him. Bertolucci places him an an empty apartment with red stained rugs and dirty windows. Here he brings a young woman he acquires like a sportscar, to show off, and to play with.

Jeanne is a budding actress disenchanted with her moviemaker boyfriend who frames everything with his thumb and forefinger. She is intrigued by the mystery of a new relationship which is clearly obsessive/compulsive--there are no names, only games.

Underneath this all is a man's raw grief. Brando tearfully smears clean his dead wife's overdone face, and tosses the stinking funeral wreaths. In this moment, and in the end when he sports a silly smile on his face while saluting Jeanne, he is real. For Schneider the film initiated a slew of roles as female lead. Taken under the wing of Bridget Bardot, her dream was to work in arthouse cinema with auteurs--and this was her most memorable role. The film acquired attention for the addictive urgency of their sexual entango-ment, and the film was temporarily banned in several US cities.

Maybe Sharon Stone is right: sex in cinema is interesting because it is so seldom free. But in this film that is not the case, because sex is so heavily entwined with emotional blackmail,depression and mortality-- and not much of a dance at all. Brando and Schneider got this totally correct.


'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' enchants audiences at San Francisco's NCTC

'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' enchants audiences at San Francisco's NCTC

Julian Holmes, Tess Greenham, Regina Leon, Giulia Iaconi-Stewart, and Roman Blum in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'
Julian Holmes, Tess Greenham, Regina Leon, Giulia Iaconi-Stewart, and Roman Blum in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'
©Moira Sullivan

Bollywood Sleeping Beauty

The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) under the direction of Stephanie Temple is renowned in San Francisco for its enchanting plays for youth. Temple’s current production, which she wrote and directed, is 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' and runs through October 14 at NCTC.

Lakshimi (Rebecca Hughes), Saraswati (Stella Price) and Parvati (Lena Galinson) in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'.
©Moira Sullivan

Temple has a wonderful ability to put together such endearing tales that her theatre pieces have become beloved by the public for many years. There is always the opportunity for a young child to audition for the program and on October 7 there were several children that looked on in reverence at the older children, most around 15 years.
This story of 'Sleeping Beauty' has been given a Bollywood twist where the young princess Sabeena has become prey to the goddess Kali. The marriage of Sabeena's parents, Queen Dalaja (Tess Greenham) and King Maandhata (Roman Blum) displeased her so much that she is bent on revenge of their first-born. Sabeena starts to fall for Prince Taj (Julian Holmes) just before this unfortunate circumstance is about to come into play.
At 15, the needle of a spinning wheel will mortally wound Sabeena, true to the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. In Temple’s arrangement, three benevolent goddesses: Saraswati (Stella Price), Lakshimi (Rebecca Hughes), and Parvati (Lena Galinson) watch over Sabeena and arrange that she will merely fall into a deep sleep. This is a slumber not without enchantment. The goddesses create an obstacle map within Beauty’s subconscious to help get her home including the meeting of a black bearded prince, the elephant headed god Ganesha, and a white mustached prince. They are even able to arrange for Sabeena's new love Prince Taj to appear in the dream to accompany her on her journey home. 
This Temple production excels in clever dance arrangements set to Bollywood music with members of the royal family and the goddesses. As in other Temple plays, the young actors double as other characters, such as some of the dream personalities. The incredibly talented Carola Anderson makes the costumes for NCTC youth theatre and in this production the garments of the Indian royalty and dream creatures are stunning.
'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' is a visionary play that is cinematic like the Indian genre from which the name is derived. The play is an explosion of color, enchantment, dance and music in a journey that clearly appeal to all ages.
The play runs through October 14 at NCTC, 25 Van Ness in San Francisco. 


Lee Daniels' controversial 'The Paperboy' opens in San Francisco

Lee Daniels' controversial 'The Paperboy' opens in San Francisco

The Paperboy

'The Paperboy' is the story of Hillary van Wetter, a bloated Southern sleezeball played by John Cusack who is awaiting the electric chair for killing an obese racist sheriff. While in prison femme fatale Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) writes him, and soons falls for him. She convinces two newspapermen Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) to re-investigate the homicide in order to prove van Wetter’s innocence. Charlotte, Ward Jansen and his brother, Jack (Zac Ephron) visit him in prison in one of the film's raw scenes. 

Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'
Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'
Cannes Film Festival 2012
Zac Ephron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and David Oyelowo in 'The Paperboy'
Cannes Film Festival

Jack prances around in shorts or underwear as a clearly homoerotic character. Yardley is (erotically) disturbed by him but Jack falls for Charlotte Bless. The seductive blonde with a brittle wig and heavy eye makeup tells Jack she has a dark side where his good looks and nature do not fit.
Van Wetter does nothing but abuse Charlotte from the minute he meets her in prison and when he gets out. As far as the other lead characters, Ward accepts an offer to have sex with some local black men, not the first time, but gets badly roughed up. Macy Gray is Zac’s beloved nanny but that position of privilege soon ends when his father (Scott Glen) starts to see the provincial albeit racist Ellen Guthrie (Nealla Gordon).
The connection between sexism, homophobia, classicism and racism is interconnected throughout the film. 'The Paperboy' no doubt shows the roots of oppression. Cinematographer Roberto Shaefer ('Monster’s Ball') constructs each shot of the misé en scene (composition of the frame) There are also some montage elements by Joe Klotz ('Precious') that will clearly jolt in the spectator. These images are disturbing and pull the film away from the traditional thriller genre, which critics expected.
The raw edges of the film are not entertaining. This lack of feel good put off some of the press at Cannes where it had its international film debut in May, but for others it was a cinematic triumph.
Lee Daniel's 'The Paperboy' is an excellent, well-crafted narrative that seems to turn upside down everything you thought a film might be about set in the south. It opens in San Francisco at the Landmark Theaters at Embarcadero October 5.