- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
Liz has been teaching a writing workshop all week, so she’s taking a break from the music blog—which means you get an Eloisa Movie Blog! (OK, this is only issue #2, but I do love movies.) The problem is that I’m no expert, the way Liz is about music. In fact, I’ve only recently started to figure out just how important a director is to a film. Yeah, go ahead, laugh. I’ve been watching movies for years, and enjoying them—but never bothered too much about who the director happened to be.
Until last week. I was visiting a friend who proposed a Robert Altman marathon. I’ve heard of Robert Altman, though before last week I couldn’t have told you what his movies were. We started at the beginning, which meant I now know three of Altman’s earliest movies (then I had to return to NJ, where there are children, jobs and very little movie-watching time).
It’s fascinating to watch one director’s movies in a row! Has anyone else done this? By focusing on who directed a movie, you learn their quirks—the way Altman overlaps the dialogue, for example, and his idiosycratic, hysterically funny take on life. My two favorites from the movie marathon:
MASH. I guess I knew this was a movie, but I thought of it as a TV show. There’s no love story here, but the tale of three bad but brilliant boys fighting to save people’s lives has an inherent sexiness that I adored. I fell in love with all three of them. If you haven’t seen this ever or recently—watch it!
THE WEDDING. This is a wild, crazy, insane wedding. I loved it. In fact—I’m going to write it. My own Altman homage...coming to you in Georgian period dress!
Has anyone else ever done this? What directors are worth glomming onto and spending a whole Sunday watching?
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There is a lot of on-screen sex. Bare rears pumping, shots of boobs and torsos, legs intertwined, blah, blah. My reactions range anywhere from, “Ick, gross,” to, “Wow, that’s sexy,” to, “Hahahahaha!” Because sex, while a lot of fun in the doing, has the potential to be highly comedic.
But for real heat, nothing works like a well-done on-screen kiss. And by well-done, I mean the kind of kiss that quivers on the edge of erotica without ever going any farther than four lips meeting for the exchange of souls.
In the newest PBS version of JANE EYRE, do you remember the scene after Jane saves Mr. Rochester from the fire in his bed? They stand in silhouette against the firelight. He wraps a blanket around her shoulders. And they don’t kiss … they look at each other.
Right there on the couch, I froze, unable to move, my carbonated beverage halfway to my mouth, my eyes straining, while passion smolders between them. What makes it better is — she doesn’t know what is happening, she doesn’t know what to do — and he does. And he’s right there. He could seduce her. He wants to so badly, I could taste it. And he restrains himself.
If I had spilled my drink into my lap, steam would have risen.
Later, there was more, when he was trying to convince her to stay with him, but that one scene in silhouette is seared onto my eyeballs. Sexual tension is not about heaving bottoms. It’s about one man and one woman hovering on the edge of love, yearning for one thing and one thing only — each other. That is the kind of moment I always try to include in my books, one that leaves you breathless.
So in no particular order, here’s my very incomplete list of the best movie kisses.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA At the end when she’s trying to get away to go with Raoul and she plants a good one on the Phantom and only one thought runs through the mind of every woman watching. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? GERARD BUTLER? YOU’RE LEAVING GERARD BUTLER FOR PRETTY BOY RAOUL? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FEEBLE GRASP ON REALITY? SO THE PHANTOM’S FACE IS A LITTLE MESSED UP! ALL CATS ARE GRAY IN THE DARK!
DON JUAN DE MARCO Early on, there is this scene with a woman in a restaurant. She’s obviously waiting for a man who doesn’t value her as he should, and Johnny Depp (dressed as Don Juan de Marco in a cape and a mask), sits down at her table. He kisses her fingers one by one while saying, “These women… have fingers, with the same sensitivities as their legs. The fingertips have the same feelings as their feet, and when you touch their knuckles, it is like passing your hands along their knees. And this, tender, fleshy part of the finger, is the same as brushing your hands along their thighs. And… finally...”
One word. Wowsa.
LAST OF THE MOHICANS DA! DA DA DAH DAH! DAH DAH DAH DAH! A hot kiss, a great theme, and a fabulous line delivered by an intense Daniel Day-Lewis.
“What are you looking at, sir?”
“I’m looking at you, miss.”
The kiss at the end of A&E’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE — okay, it’s barely even a real kiss, but the lead-up is six hours of Colin Firth brooding over Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Talk about a build-up of sexual tension that can only be released by … one … thing!
And, oh man, let’s never forget that moment on the piano in PRETTY WOMAN.
I wrote some great sex in IN BED WITH THE DUKE. But I was most proud of the kisses they shared. “This wasn’t some tentative, inexperienced press of lips to lips. This was a swashbuckling kiss. This was a passionate kiss. This kiss was running through an exotic jungle, splashing into a warm, tempestuous sea, stepping into the storm outside and inviting the lightning to strike and set her ablaze. The wind from the open window swirled around them, wet and cool, lifting the hem of her nightgown and tangling it around his boots. Emma strained against him, absorbing this man’s love of adventure, of justice, and of … her? His lips parted hers, his tongue swept into her mouth. He tasted her and wordlessly invited her to taste him, his soul, his being.”
“> What movie kisses have been so hot that you melted in your chair? What almost-kisses seared the scene onto your eyeballs? What do you think makes the difference between a kiss that makes you toss popcorn into the air and try to catch it in your mouth and one that makes you buy the DVD just so you can run it over and over and over …?
Last night was Family Movie Night. That mean that my husband and I grab a bottle of wine and our two kids, go to the friendly Japanese place (byob) where they give out Japanese gum in exotic flavors and wild children’s drinks with marbles in the neck of the bottle. In other words, all kids, all the way.
Then we go to the movies. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. After the usual squabbles over popcorn with butter or without (mom is in favor of non-poisonous food items; children adore chemical substitutes), we end up watching this movie. Did anyone else see it? It’s pretty ridiculous, but my children loved it, and my husband and I tolerated it. Not as bad as some, definitely not as great as the best kids’ movies.
I know we’re supposed to have a music day today, but a movie blog is pretty close.... here’s my question. That’s our ritual for family night, up above. What about you? What’s your family day ritual?
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Before sitting down to watch Almodover’s fabulous and fabled new film, VOLVER, be prepared to have to suspend your disbelief. Not at the notion that mothers can return from the dead to take care of their daughters, sisters and children of their enemies, but that the radiant Penelope Cruz, make-up flawless and bosom displayed to enormous advantage in every single frame, couldn’t land a better job than as a janitor at a hospital.
VOLVER (Spanish for “to return”) begins in a small town’s graveyard in La Mancha, Spain swarming with chatty women busily scrubbing family gravestones. Right away I am hooked. I am huge fan of kitsch, the rituals surrounding death, and communities of women and VOLVER includes all of these elements in abundance. Penelope Cruz plays Raimunda, strong, resilient, unflinching yet damaged who, along with her sister and fourteen year old daughter, is visiting her dotty aged aunt. The death of that same aunt some weeks later, propels the plot. Though she would like to go to the funeral, Raimunda cannot, because her daughter has just killed her husband and she’s hidden the body in the freezer of a nearby restaurant she is supposed to be showing to prospective buyers.
Instead she takes over the business. When the spirit of her dead mother returns to Madrid with her sister, the family secrets begin tumbling out as the unsettled ghost strives to breach the estrangement that kept her from caring for her daughters and granddaughter in life. There are no men to speak of in this film. And even when men do have a profound impact on the narrative, their acts seem to be more natural disasters than anything else.
This is simply a wonderful movie. There is not one maudlin moment to make you wince. Its preposterous, moving, ironic funny and unsettling but always honest. Cruz reminds me of a young Sophia Loren or Melina Mecouri. The rest of the cast is stellar. Be advised, the production values are not American. You’ll love this film for the characters and the story, not the eye-candy. (Though my husband disagrees)
VOLVER is a Spanish film with subtitles. What are your favorite foreign films and do you prefer yours dubbed or undubbed?
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I, for one, adore scary movies! As a writer, I don’t think I can afford to shut myself off from any human emotion, including horror. I love the first HALLOWEEN. I love the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT scared the bejeebers out of me and hey, I even enjoyed SAW! Instead of slasher pics, my true favorites are psychological thrillers like THE OTHERS and THE INNOCENTS. Which may be why I think PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is the scariest movie ever made.
This 1975 Australian film from Peter Weir (who would later go on to make GALLIPOLI, WITNESS, DEAD POET’S SOCIETY and MASTER AND COMMANDER) is a lyrical, brooding masterpiece set at Appleyard College (an all-girls school) in 1900. When a group from the college sets out to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a picnic jaunt to Hanging Rock--an ancient volcanic outcropping in Victoria--disaster ensues. While the other students are napping, four of the girls defy their teacher’s instructions and set off to explore the interior of the rock. The next thing we know, one teacher and three of the girls have vanished into thin air. Only one girl is found--hysterical and with no memory of what happened to the others. The disappearances send shockwaves of fear and suspicion through the community. The movie’s cinematography is exquisite and Weir captured the dreamy quality of the film by actually filming parts of it through a bridal veil. Although the students drift about in white dresses plainly chosen to symbolize their purity, the movie is rife with repressed sexuality. In their darkest hearts, the girls seem to have more in common with the chaotic wildness of the Australian outback than the rigid propriety of their society, which makes it easier to believe that they may have gone willingly to their mysterious fate. Without shedding a single drop of blood, this movie continues to haunt me years after I first saw it.
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So it is with “Little Miss Sunshine,” one of my favorite movies of this year. It’s got everything working for it that I like in a movie: an ensemble; a cast built around a plot rather than a story manufactured for a star; a quirky, serio-comic set of characters; perfectly detailed and seriously flawed group interactions; clean, real dialogue; and a heart as big as all outdoors.
The plot revolves around the bitterly dysfunctional Hoover family, nominally headed by Richard (the utterly perfect Greg Kinnear) a failed motivational speaker aggressively trying to force his Steps to Success down everyone’s throat, including his family— all of whom have their own quirks and faults. Toni Collette is perfect as Richard’s wife Sheryl who has been struggling to bring home the bacon while Richard pursues his dream and is consequently now barely speaking to Richard. Alan Arkin plays Richard’s father, living with them since he was kicked out of his retirement community for his heroin habit. Also in the house are Sheryl’s teenage son (Paul Dano) from a previous marriage, a kid so deep in the throes of teen angst he’s taken a vow of silence to escape his family (and believe me, teenagers or not, you’d want to, too!), and Sheryl’s brother, played by the extraordinary Steve Carrel, a gay Proust scholar on suicide watch after a failed romance with a grad student.
The only thing the Hoover family can agree on is that the youngest of the family, pudgy six year old Olive, and the only member of the family who has yet to acquire any serious baggage (despite the best efforts of her father in a cringe-inducing scene in a breakfast joint.) By a fluke, Olive, who is obsessed with beauty pageants, has been called in as a last minute replacement in the Little Miss Sunshine contest (“something to do with diet pills.) In a family that regularly watches dreams shrivel and die, all the members come together to make sure that little Olive’s doesn’t.
The Hoovers don’t have a sou, they can’t get along, they are all dealing with extreme disappointments –mostly of their own manufacturing, their transport is an antique VW bus, and they’re running late but by God, they are determined Olive is going to get her shot. What emerges is a story about a family who, despite their pre-occupation with “winning,” are at their core human and humane, with a sweetness and commitment to one another that is a joy. The ending, I have to say, made half the audience I saw this with cheer.
So, yeah, okay. Go see it. But don’t send me your ticket stubs if you don’t like it!