MCW: Best Elizabeth Taylor Movie

"If you existed, I'd divorce you" (Martha to George)

The time: 1966. The movie: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
A black and white movie with just 4 characters and confined (for the most part) to a single room somehow turns out to be more explosive than your average summer blockbuster. If you have ever been out with people who spent the evening trading barbs and veiled putdowns you know how awkward that can be. This movie makes you feel that only in a different way because the acting is so intense and wide open that you are spellbound in horror and recognition. Alcohol is the accelerant that turns a shit night on the George and Martha marriage front into DefCon 4, taking a small fragile relationship down with it.

I had thought about going with A Place in the Sun but that's Monty's movie. Its his story. Though I love Elizabeth in it for just sheer astonishing beauty, it is nowhere near the acting triumph that VW is. First of all, it was brave of her to play physically a chubby stuffed into her clothing alcoholic bitch. Raging at her real life husband Richard Burton in the movie, one wonders how real it might have been given the volatility the actual marriage had.

heres a favorite scene:

I know I will blog jinx this week. How could I not?

RIP Elizabeth. You were a true star. Happy MCW everyone!


MCW: Best Hitchcock Movie

It's "The Birds".

Its by far the best of his work visually. Some of the best angles in all of his movies happen here, like the view of the fire at the gas station from above a seagull floating on wind...and thats all you hear is wind. In fact, there is no sound track in this movie. No music at all. But there is a ton of silence. The silence is a kind of minimalism that heightens anxiety; there is no clue to what may happen next.

The characters are not endearing. You have ice princess the de-facto Hitchcock chick, you have Man - a totally unappealing Rod Taylor, crazy clingy Mama ( how mrs. bates looked before her death and mummification one presumes)  the little girl, a know it all ornithologist (a favorite character) and sultry suzanne pleshette the ex girlfriend. Nobody is really a good person here..they are all insufferable in some way or another.

Which means I am pro-bird every time I watch this. I love that the problem isnt insanity, mistaken identity or crazy demented killer, but a creature that is completely benign and around us always. And there is no definitive reason for their attack. Oh sure, people have all kinds of theories but just like in real life, nobody actually knows. And I dont need to know why. I dont care -I just let the action wash over me like an abstract expressionist painting.

And then there is this: The Birds edition of Barbie.
Is there a north by northwest eva marie saint doll? no. How about a Janet Leigh doll with plastic shower stall accessory? nope. The chick in Spellbound? nope. Norman Bates doll? nope.

Consider this, along with how often this costume turns up at Halloween and youve got proof of an enduring masterpiece that extends its visual power into all manner of pop culture.

The Birds also has one of my favorite dark endings. No guarantees, people:

Happy MCW!


Haiku Monday: Sleep

a little like death
defenseless hemispheres wait
for birdsong alarm

according to the
circadian rhythm
siesta at two

anyone clan play Haiku Monday. This week's host is Czar. Go there, post your haiku. You might win a prize.


MCW: Best Drug / Drunk Scene in a Movie

Interesting topic. Few things disturb me as much as addiction to drugs does. If you've ever seen it up close and personal and have been powerless to do anything about it you'll know what I mean. Its like sharing a universe with a bright sun flaring out spikes of bright highs and then watching it transform into an angry red unpredictable orb of destruction and chaos. The trail of tears left behind is a rutted path that you can still see etched across the landscape of relationships long after the addiction ends.

I couldnt watch any clips. Especially the one from Traffic where the girls boyfriend has her freebase heroin and then takes advantage of her; the scene in Pulp Fiction where uma thurman mistakes heroin for coke and has the mother of all confused freak outs (yes I found it more disturbing than the needle in the heart thing). Other memorable moments are the cemetery scene in Easy Rider and Ellen Byrnsten's "diet pill" addiction in Requiem for a Dream. Truth is, I avoid movies with drug scenes like the plague. I have enough anxiety as it is with just regular ol' basic life.

I looked through a few lists on the internet but didnt see the one clip I thought of that is tame and even sort of sweet in the context of these other movies.

Its the scene in Animal House where Pinto, Boone and Katie go over to the professor's house and smoke pot. I love love love the scene where the prof (played by donald sutherland) asks if anybody wants to smoke some pot, and then when they agree, the scene, as seen from Pintos eyes, when the Prof locks the door, pulls down the shades and sets the stage of apprehension and clandestine wonder. Its a sweet scene and about all I can take.

But then I saw Boxer chose the same thing which didn't surprise me. So then I thought I would take a different route and choose a drug scene as in drugged. Two that I like are the ones where in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom he is drugged by Lao Che and has to find the antidote in a crazy swirling room of ice and white balloons, show girls, while being fired upon with machine guns. I also like the scene in Casino Royale where Bond is drugged and has to make it to his car to get to defib paddles to live, and then returns to the poker game to the horror of his nemesis. Good stuff.

Best Drinking / Drunk scenes:

  1.  Karen Allen outdrinking the locals in Nepal in the first Indiana Jones movie
  2. The guys in Jaws drinking and comparing scars.
  3. Liz Taylor as Virginia Wolf ripping into her husband and challenging the integrity of her dress seams
  4. Bad Santa drunk at work
  5. Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday pretty much through the entire movie Tombstone.
Happy MCW everyone! I will be around later to see all the entries.


Haiku Monday: Pulchritude

pulchritude. well, I had to look it up. Still not clear how to pronounce it. It means physical beauty and it is particularly used addressing the physical beauty of women.

now what.

I remember in one of Master Basho's lessons that it was better to NOT state the word that the haiku is about but instead address it by illustrating it with a time and place that can be understood and vicariously experienced by the reader. and if it indicates a certain season (without saying so) then so much the better.

If i am in error, I expect that Basho's earthly rep will correct me.

He flashed brightly
his scarlet and jet splendor
courting muted She


Haiku Thursday is a weekly multi-participant game that anyone can play. Visit the Haiku Host to find the topic for the week, then post your haiku on your blog, and let the Haiku Host know that you are up. The Badge of Great Honor will be awarded and the winner may display that badge on his/her blog.

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MCW: Best Political Thriller(s)

My Top Five:

#5: Shooter: Marky Mark is an ex sniper who lives up in the mountains trying to have a chill life when Danny Glover and some other heavies show up and ask him to figure out how to stop an assassination. But its a set-up that frames him as the assassin. What follows is a nice cat and mouse routine, some delightful conspiracy theories, and a satisfying payoff at the end. Micheal Pena plays a bewildered FBI novice to perfection.

#4: Enemy of the State: Jon Voight is the head of the NSA who wastes a senator that wont vote to pass an oppressive security bill. Wildlife photographer catches it on film; it ends up in labor lawyer Will Smith's Victoria Secret bag and an epic chase ensues. The way that NSA technology is used to track and thwart him is a lot of fun. Neat interweaving of Mafia interests too. Gene Hackman stars as an ex spook who knows the score. Lots of fun.

#3: The Lives of Others: A good look at the Stasi in East Germany and what being a tool of an oppressive State requires of a man. In German, with subtitles.

#2: Hunt for Red October: cat and mouse game with subs. Sean Connery wants to defect. Or does he? Jack Ryan helps out. Its a good movie -very hollywood and fairy-tale like, but still. Chock full of great male actors; of course. Theres no wimmen on subs! (are there?)

#1: Salvador: a long time ago, Oliver Stone was an upstart guerilla director with a righteous point of view. Salvador is the very best of him. James Woods and Jim Belushi drive to Salavador in order to get great footage and story to salvage Woods' dying freelance career. It starts off as a alcohol and drug fueled road trip until our boys find out that inserting themselves between leftist rebels and military dictators can get real ugly real fast. John Savage, who is a very cool actor, plays a photojournalist with a much greater understanding of how things are.

I know, I phoned this one in. No clips today. Very Busy.

Happy MCW everyone!