The Lulus -- Where it's an honor NOT being nominated! -- SUPPORTING ACTRESS

OK -- it's time for THE LULUS.
Here there are no nominees, just StinkyLulu's lists.
There are almost no rules either...
Just (a) the performance can't be nominated for an Academy Award and (b) StinkyLulu has to remember the performance enough to want to remind others to do the same...

TODAY's category: LULU's
Few of StinkyLulu's early favorites in this zone made it to the official Oscar ballot. Which makes this part of the list-making most fun...

So the SUPPORTING ACTRESS LULUS include (in rough order of preference)...
...the exhilarating work of Glenn Close in the generally hideous The Stepford Wives. StinkyLulu found Glennie's hilarious work to be the only thing that almost made sense in an otherwise apoplectically confused film.
...the breakout Sharon Warren in Ray. In her film debut, NOT ONLY did Ms. Warren stand out in a film lousy with really good supporting performances (hello Aunjanue Ellis & Regina King) clustered around Jamie Foxx's superstarmaking work BUT ALSO she did so entirely in flashback. You try that.
...the ensemble of Cherry Jones-Sigourney Weaver-Celia Weston in The Village. These three theatre vets just acted their balls off in this gimmicky piece of cinematic pifffle. Shows just how good acting sans-botox can be.
...the ineffable Darryl Hannah in Kill Bill Vol. 2 & Silver City. Adding to her recent list of heart-stopping performances, StinkyLulu declares that Ms. Hannah is now totally in that most magical zone -- the "Who KNEW?!" Zone... StinkyLulu loves it when that happens.
...and, finally, a tie for the forgotten ensemble members -- Jada Pinkett Smith in Collateral & Sandra Oh in Sideways. These women gave funny, real & interesting performances, totally essential to the powerhouse acting ensembles of which they were a part, yet they have both been nearly forgotten in all the hooha. More substantially, each woman created a character thorougly deserving of her own sequel -- just imagine.

So the LULUs have begun....
Hold on to your handbags!


StinkyLulu begins to reflect on the NOMINATIONS...

With this morning's announcement of this year's Academy Award Nominations, StinkyLulu's reminded of the simple fact that StinkyLu's annual noms are mostly meant to remind StinkyLulu of the performances that were too good to be forgotten during prognoscartating season...

StinkyLu wishes to revisit the major acting categories in the next days...
To acknowledge performances worth remembering from 2004.
Faithful readers might recognize some minor repetition of content, but -- really -- what's a little clarification & revision among friends?



StinkyLulu's Scorsese NogginScratcher

StinkyLu & MrStinky finally saw Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.

It was fine. Just fine.
Impressive to be sure. Epic, big-vision movie-making at its most expert but...
~A few performances to pinch your nipples along the way. (StinkyLu was particularly thrilled by Cate Blanchett as Kate Hepburn, Frances Conroy as Kate Hepburns bitch-ass Connecticut mom, Alan Alda as some wierd-ass variation on a congressman ostensibly from Maine and Matt Ross in a quiet steady & utterly crucial performance as Howard Hughes co-visionary in all things aviation.)
~A scandalously giddy portrait of depression era Hollywood nightlife. (Indeed, the respective bandleader/singers had a garishness of their performance/affect that really served to underscore the surrealism of the whole dream factory aspect of big-money west coast hucksterism...)
~Thrilling, brilliant, surprising art direction -- very nearly induces the visual equivalent of a diabetic coma.

It was fine. Just fine. But so what?
Most of the film was herky-jerky skidoodle through the well-known path of Howard Hughes' early life. Unfortunately, the mysteries of his psyche -- so long a subject of speculation, so scrupulously unavailable to public review -- become the mysteries at the emotional heart of this movie. Criticlasm's comments of January 10 liken the film to a sumptuous buffet that becomes vaguely but insistently nauseating as the hours pass. Hear that. Yet, for StinkyLu, it's almost more like the film wants to be like the whirlwind force that surrounds the eery quiet of the center, like the mystery of Howard Hughes' psyche is the eye -- note Scorsese's concluding shot -- the eye of the hurricane that was Hughes' obsession driven life. But it become that cliche -- a puzzle cloaked in the mystery of a conundrum...

Indeed, StinkyLu's beginning to wonder if this is the key to the strangely dissatisfying nature of Scorsese's films. Possibly the most accomplished film director working today, the one with the most entrancingly appreciative knowledge of film history, who nonetheless remains at the contemporary frontier of cinematic (as distinct from CGI) technique -- Scorsese's incredibly able to create these extraordinary cinematic accomplishments but his films of the last 10 years seem almost emotionally hollowed by the meticulous construction of the spectacular apparatus...

What's wierd is that actors love him. And he seems to love actors. Here, DiCaprio/Blanchett or DiCaprio/Alda scenes crackle -- where the technique combines with inspiration to do something really worth watching. In these scenes, Scorsese seems to orient the film to position the acting as the star. But even these moments underscore those acting moments which really should have worked, the most surprisingly inadequate performances in the film: Alec Baldwin as Juan Trippe & Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. That the DiCaprio/Baldwin scene through the door becomes nearly tedious while the DiCaprio/Blanchett scene illuminates every emotional corner of the film: something's really wierd with that imbalance... (Same too in the imbalance comparing the bizarre vagueness of John C. Reilly and the vivid Matt Ross -- these should be parallel relationships & StinkyLu refuses to fault John C. Reilly for inadequate ability/talent as a supporting player.) And it's these incidents of directorial unevenness that seem to make the rest of the directorial accomplishments sag...

So. It's wierd but, for StinkyLu, The Aviator was just fine.


CBQ revised?

A suggestion has arrived to StinkyLu (via criticlasm) from Rich -- an actual mathlete it seems -- that aims to clarify StinkyLulu's proposed vector of film analysis, CBQ (Cute Boy Quotient)...

Rich notes:
"There are major mathematical difficulties
underlying StinkyLulu's poposed CBQ.
For instance, if both the numerator and the
denominator of the ratio are in the range
1 to 10, no negative numbers are possible.
Also, ANY film for which the overall rating
equals the CB rating would have a CBQ of 1 -
that is, a great film with lots of CB's or
a terrible one with few.

"I would propose, instead, a "CBD"
or "Cute Boy Differential" which is
the DIFFERENCE between the two numbers.
Miracle would have a CBD of 8
(an even "better" number than its CBQ of 5),
good films with cute boys and bad films
without cute boys would both have CBD's of zero,
and good films inadequately populated
with cute boys would have negatve CBD's...."

Innnersting. Indeed, Rich's proposal of the CBD is appealing.
Now, StinkyLulu's math history is near-tragic (LilStinky nearly failed out of mid-school for a pedagogical failure in conveying some essential lessons in "number properties" that made the transition into higher maths near impossible. It was only during preparations for the GRE nearly two decades later that StinkyLulu discovered the square root of years of math trauma. But that's another story...) So, as a general rule, StinkyLu prefers mathemagic to actual math.

So, lovely readers, enjoy diddling with Rich's proposal, the CBD.
Anything to encourage honesty in film engagement & assessment.
That's all StinkyLu really wants...

The Kathy Bates Effect -- Another Rubric of Film Assessment

Recently, in response to StinkyLu's introduction of CBQ (Cute Boy Quotient, see archives for Stinky's January 14 blog), criticlasm suggested that another rubric be considered, one that acknowledged how the presence of an exceedingly enjoyable female performer in a supporting role can occasionally redeem an otherwise unwatchable film.

StinkyLulu gave this a ponder. And, acknowledging another of criticlasm's pithy insights ("math is hard"), StinkyLu feels it best to keep this rubric of film assessment simple.

Henceforth, StinkyLulu will refer to the phenomenon of a supporting actress' performance making an unwatchable film nearly enjoyable as The Kathy Bates Effect, named in honor of a woman whose very presence in a film transforms it utterly. Recent examples of "The Kathy Bates Effect" can be seen via Joan Cusack (a veteran Bates Effect actress) in Raising Helen or Holly Hunter's voice performance in The Incredibles. Occasionally, the Kathy Bates Effect is a mixed blessing as in the recent debacle Little Black Book where the combined presence of Kathy Bates & Holly Hunter convinced both Criticlasm and MrStinky to see that disaster of a film...

So, StinkyLu respectfully submits The Kathy Bates Effect as another addition to the emerging critical tools available to those in the StinkyLulu Screening School...


Even though StinkyLulu's quick to grouse..StinkyLu's Most Interesting Supporting Actress Performances...

Even though StinkyLulu's quick to grouse about the constant prognOSCARtating, it ain't gonna keep StinkyLu from doing what StinkyLulu does.
SO -- StinkyLu's award season continues with

~ Sharon Warren in Ray
~ Darryl Hannah in Kill Bill Volume 2.
~ Jada Pinkett Smith in Collateral
~ Glenn Close in Stepford Wives
~ Virginia Madsen in Sideways
~ Cate Blanchett in The Aviator

A word on the frontrunners:
As a general rule, StinkyLulu doesn't mention performances in films StinkyLu hasn't yet seen. Those especially meticulous lovely readers among you might note that -- as of this blogging -- The Aviator remains on the to-do portion of StinkyLu's screening list. However, based on elaborate previews/clips as well as Cate Blanchett's reliable fabulousness as well as the fact the Miss Cate's performance in Steve Zissou might have landed her on this list as well, StinkyLu's fairly confident that her work in The Aviator warrants inclusion on this list. However, that don't mean it's StinkyLu's favorite -- that goes to either Glenn Close (who made an otherwise unwatchable movie utterly thrilling) or Sharon Warren (whose screen debut took StinkyLulu's breath away in virtually every scene)...


StinkyLulu's getting a little irritated by the hype-machines ignited this weekend by some shift in the thin air media types breathe. Let's just call it: PrognOSCARtating.... Defined as the wild pseudo-scientific speculations offered by movie critics/commentators as Oscars approach...just like the stuff you're reading now.

Basically, it's the hooey that comes surging forth on morning chat shows and syndicated entertainment shows in which certain nominations are reconstructed by the commentators as very specific kinds of horse races. This year, the one that's starting to tick StinkyLulu off is the supposed rematch of the 1999 showdown between Hilary Swank & Annette Bening. On tonight's Golden Globes, each actress took the Best Actress award, in the drama & comedy/musical categories respectively...

It might be that StinkyLulu's not seen either performance. It might be that this "contest" doesn't include StinkyLulu's favorite leading actress performances of the year (ie. Catalina Sandino Moreno or Rachel McAdams). But the whole thing is so patently boilerplate 101...

It's possible that StinkyLulu resents this kind of boilerplate prognOSCARtating because, by creating such a simple headline-able reading of the category, these media wonks just ZAP all the fun out of prognOSCARtating... And -- sniff -- prognOSCARtating is one of StinkyLulu's favorite hobbies...


StinkyLulu's Supporting Actor Performances Worth Remembering: James Garner in THE NOTEBOOK

StinkyLulu's gotta keep it brief...
The Golden Globes are tomorry & Academy Award nominations are due today. (Not that StinkyLu has anything to do with either.) Just a word to the universe & you lovely reader: please don't fergit James Garner's simple & simply heartbreaking performance in The Notebook. Possibly the most emotionally throttling performances captured on film this year, rivalled only by the extraordinary Sharon Warren in Ray (but that's a whole 'nother category...)

SO -- StinkyLu's award season begins with

~ Peter Saarsgard in Kinsey
~ Clive Owen in Closer
~ Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland
~ Mark Wahlberg in I Heart Huckabees
~ Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
~ James Garner in The Notebook

A word on the frontrunners:
StinkyLu's sure Morgan Freeman's very good in Million Dollar Baby but the flick's not been to StinkyLu's Neighborhood yet. Thomas Haden Church got his career back, should be award enough... Either can nudge lil Freddie out if necessary, but this is StinkyLulu's world -- so, hey.

CBQ: A New Measure in Film Assessment

StinkyLulu feels its important that -- in these trying times -- that filmgoers are honest with themselves and their fellows about the pleasures they gather at the googaplex.

For these reasons, StinkyLulu proposes the adoption of the CBQ Standard for movie assessment. The CBQ -- or, Cute Boy Quotient -- measures the pleasures of a film as determined by the ratio of a film's actual enjoyability to the film's enjoyability as a singular result of the preponderance of cute guys in the cast.

For example, consider the hockey movie Miracle. In most respects, a brain-softening piece of propagandist puff. On a scale of 1-10, StinkyLulu would probably give it a 2. When Miracle is considered exclusively for the CB (translation: Cute Boy) aspect, StinkyLu would give the film a solid 10. So the ratio emerges of 2:10 which StinkyLulu's mathemagics makes into a CBQ of 5. Meaning: Miracle is 5 times as enjoyable as it would otherwise be simply because of the Cute Boys.

If, however, applying the CBQ to a film like Friday Night Lights (with a ratio of 8:8 -- getting both a solid 8 as film and as a CB film), don't be discouraged by the 1:1 ratio. A CBQ of 1 -- for a film already worth seeing -- is like free dessert, extra tasty treats in an already appetizing dish and is thereby designated as a 1*. (Pleae note that the CBQ does also -- though infrequently -- produce negative ratings. Films with Icky leading men like Jack Nicholson are especially vulnerable here: Something's Gotta Give would receive a CBQ of -3, despite the somewhat mitigating presences of Keanu Reeves.)

So remember, a CBQ is only necessary/relevant when the pleasures of masculine cuteness match or surpass the general pleasures of a given film (except in the aforementioned ickiness factor, otherwise known as the Jack Nicholson effect). Further, a CBQ of 1* indicates a treatsy plus in an already good film. A CBQ of 2 or 3 gives a kick to an otherwise struggling film. And a CBQ of 4 or 5? Go for the scenic pleasures expecting little else...

Some CBQs for 2004:
CBQ of 1*: Closer; Friday Night Lights
CBQ of 2: The Ladykillers
CBQ of 3 : Shall We Dance?; The Day After Tomorrow; Hidalgo
CBQ of 4: The Butterfly Effect; Dodgeball; Win A Date with Tad Hamilton
CBQ of 5: Troy; Miracle; Eurotrip

And StinkyLulu welcomes you, lovely reader, to add your own CBQ assessments in the "Comments" feature...


StinkyLulu's Favoritest Movies of the Year PSA #1: Team America-World Police

Team America: World Police stands out for StinkyLulu as one of those brilliant movies that nobody liked, 'cept perhaps StinkyLu & MisterStinky. First, the gimmick of the film (a parody of bigass pompous blockbuster flicks -- using puppets) was brilliant. Second, the execution of the parody was stunning (see the opening shoot-em up OR the puppet sex etude). Third, like the work of some of StinkyLulu's favorite filmmakers (ie. Tim Burton or John Waters) a film that no one but Trey Parker & Matt Stone could or would have made.

Most of the criticism StinkyLu's encountered regarding this film seems to say one of two things (sometimes both). "In all of their political jabs, taking the piss out of everyone, it's not clear what they are saying politically. And isn't their juvenile humor regarding homos/women/bodily functions/violence a bit self-indulgent by this time anyway?" OR-- "It stopped being funny after a while. There weren't enough jokes to keep the movie going."

Well. StinkyLulu sorta agrees with all that BUT, rather than diminishing StinkyLu's appreciation of the film, all that instead fortifies it. Indeed, StinkyLulu's of the mind that Team America: World Police is the most singularly interesting political movie of the year, in a year CROWDED with political treatises at the googaplex. The film seems most essentially about the bloated romantic fantasy formulas in which an individual "makes a difference" amidst scary political times (notions constantly resuscitated in bigass hollywood movies & by bigass hollywood moviepeople). What's so smart about this film then is that it takes this hollywood lesson & then applies the formula to early 21st century global politics...with results that are neither ideologically coherent nor simply funny.

For StinkyLulu, Team America: World Police stands out as a kind of whacked-out allegory for the limits of the entertainment-industrial-complex in providing answers to the obdurate complexities of the United States' position in a post-Soviet & post-9/11 world. Not as much as rallying point for true believers of either the Farenheit 9/11 or The Passion of the Christ variety, to be sure. But those movies aren't on the list of StinkyLulu's most favoritest movies of 2004. Team America: World Police is.


Entertainment Weekly's 25 Movies To Watch Before Oscar Night

StinkyLulu's the kind of sissy who not only puts the broadcast of the Academy Awards in the datebook months in advance but who also puts the Nomination Ceremony in too. (For the record, Academy Award nominations will be announced @ 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 25, 2005. That's Hollywood time, so all of you on the other coast get to hear them live at the much more civilized hour of 8:30am. And E! is the most reliable network for uninterrupted attention to the announcement, though CNN is usually pretty good too. Toldja StinkyLu was a freak for this shit.)

So -- to prepare for the momentous event -- the editors of the January 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly have offered a useful list of the 25 must-see movies in preparation for the Oscar Night (February 27). StinkyLulu planned to link to the page for this list but -- dagnabbit -- the EW.com Oscar coverage is too intricately embedded to link easily. SO -- here's the list (StinkyLulu still hasn't seen the movies in bold):

Entertainment Weekly's 25 To Watch Before Oscar Night
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Vera Drake
Hotel Rwanda
Maria Full of Grace
Before Sunset
Being Julia
The Incredibles
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Door In The Floor
Kill Bill, Volume 2
Imaginary Heroes
House of Flying Daggers
Bad Education
A Very Long Engagement
The Sea Inside
The Woodsmanr
The Phantom of the Opera


Steve Zissou & The Most Favoritest Comedies of the Year

StinkyLu & MrStinky finally caught an afternoon screening of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou... Just amazing. A mellow, pitch-perfect satire of what StinkyLulu's not entirely sure -- '70s cinematic masculinity? Jacques Cousteau? nature adventurers?

It matters little. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was simply a brilliant quiet comedy. Get this: the art direction was f'n hilarious. And the performances? Criminy, they were good, and frickin funny to boot -- especially Willem Dafoe (as a needy German assistant explorer), Cate Blanchett (that accent!) and -- of course -- Bill Murray, whose just turning in one bittersweet zinger of a performance after another. The only performance that seemed off-pitch was Owen Wilson, but that may just be a StinkyLulu problem. An actor more accustomed to the noisy comedies of the Zoolander/Starsky & Hutch school, with folks like Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn & Will Ferrell. Not that there's anything wrong with that... But if the pivotal role of Ned had been played by someone like Mark Wahlberg (see his f'n BRILLIANT turn in the otherwise befuddled I Heart Huckabees) or even Jason Schwartzman, I betcha the whole of The Life Aquatic would have been the stronger...

So. StinkyLulu's thinking that The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou might be StinkyLulu's most favoritest comedy of the year. Though that might be the warm afterglow of a treatsy movie experience -- inevitably tempered by the snarkiness that emerges with the passage of time.

BUT with the idea of "MOST FAVORITEST COMEDIES" it seems as good a time as any to list the ones from this year that have made the short list:
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Shaun of the Dead
Mean Girls

Award Season & Kate Winslet

Have you ever heard of The Critic's Choice Awards?
Well. StinkyLulu sure hadn't & was sorta surprised to watch the telecast this evening. Award season is really underway, I guess -- last night The People's Choice, tonight The Critic's Choice, this sunday The Golden Globes... When will it stop?!?!? Not for another 2 months -- & in the midst of all that, you lovely reader, have the Lulus to enjoy as well...
In tonight's award romp, Kate Winslet was up for two awards: Best Supporting Actress for Finding Neverland and Best Actress for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She won neither, losing to -- respectively -- Virginia Madsen and Hilary Swank. But, having just seen Finding Neverland this afternoon, StinkyLulu decided to just be in movie star love with the lovely, funny & always impeccable Ms. Winslet.
See, StinkyLu was a little slow to warm to the charms of bonny Kate. Never much for Jane Austenish froufrou, Titanic nearly sank StinkyLulu's appreciation of Ms. Winset... But with her turn as the incredible Clementine in Eternal Sunshine and as Peter's Mum in Finding Neverland... Holy bejeebus. The woman can work StinkyLulu's heartstrings. Seeing her, Julie Christie, Johnny Depp & that Freddie kid who's gonna be in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in Finding Neverland today... Well, it was nice to enjoy the preponderance of A-list talent squished into one movie for a change...
StinkyLulu doesn't think it's gonna be Kate's year to win any prizes. Alas. But golly she's a treat to watch...


Phantom of the Poopera: The Stinkiest Movie of the Year?

StinkyLulu finally saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera and the film stands out for being the most utterly joyless musical StinkyLulu's ever seen. A problem when the dang thing is nearly entirely sung & that the central emotional conflict of the piece follows a tragic hero's elation as it turns to anguish. It's deeply unfortunate but director Joel Schumacher drained all passion from the dang thing -- reducing the musical to an elaborate case history of bipolar disorder with really big wigs & incredibly tedious music. Most cruelly, Schumacher's production so completely evacuates joy from the proceedings that any real camp appreciation of the film is inhibited. Suffice it, the film left StinkyLulu feeling a touch drained. BUT -- though it's hard to say without a moment or two to recover/reflect-- Phantom may just end up being the Stinkiest movie of the year...

And there have been some real Stinky doozies this year. Hilary Duff's Raise Your Voice was incredibly lame and Soul Plane was astonishingly unfunny. And can't forget Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights...no matter hard one tries. Shockingly, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera beat out the interminable Troy for "most unrelentingly boring despite pretty scenery." Whew. It's good long list of Stinky movies this year & StinkyLu's just not strong enough to relive any more of them right now...

So check back to see if Phantom remains the Stinkiest... It'll be a tough one to beat.

and don't forget--
for an obsessively updated list of the films screened by StinkyLulu, see
StinkyLulu's Screenings!


Cute Actor Alert! (Part 1) - Paul Bettany

StinkyLulu hate hate hated last year's Master & Commander but granted that the scientist guy was interesting. But Paul Bettany's heart boggling performance in the extraordinary Dogville caught StinkyLulu a touch unawares. Here was a cute charismatic actor who could hold his own opposite such different celluloid-chewers as Nicole Kidman & Russel Crowe. Very very innersting... And then came Wimbeldon. A movie that Bettany very nearly had to carry entirely by his charismatic lonesome (owing to his charm-free co-star/line-reader Kirsten Dunst). And carry it, he did. Even when barely wearing a towel...

StinkyLulu like.


Most Exciting Animation of the Year: Closing Credits of LEMONY SNICKET...

Strange. In a year with no shortage of animated features (computer and hand drawn and whatever the hell Polar Express was), the most exciting animation arrived in the last wheezes of an otherwise tedious movie.

The closing credits of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, as designed by Benjamin Goldman, deploy a most thrilling animation style that conveys the tale of the Baudelaire orphans with so much more style and humor than Brad Silberling's ponderously insipid direction of the feature. Goldman's credit animation blends the cut-out card looks of Indonesian shadow puppetry and Victorian memory book collage, sends them through the texture menus available to the computer animator, and the result? A darkly giddy, wryly sweet animated narrative of perilous humor. Pitch perfect for Daniel Handler's odd books. Would that Goldman could have helmed the film using this same style...

StinkyLulu encourages you to theater surf into Lemony Snicket to catch Goldman's closing credit animation. It's actually worth the price of admission, though StinkyLulu hopes to spare you the tedium of the actual film which precedes it...

and don't forget--
for an obsessively updated list of the films screened by StinkyLulu, see
StinkyLulu's Screenings!


Too ArtsyPooPoo for StinkyLulu?

StinkyLulu dragged MisterLulu to see The Saddest Music in the World cuz it promised to be a really cool stylized comic melodrama. Well. It surely was all of those things. But it was obviously way too cool/stylized/comic/melodramatic/somebullshit for StinkyLulu's simple brain. Granted, the film did do some really awesome experimentations with film stock, processing techniques, etc. But StinkyLulu 'sposes that's mostly entertaining for MFA film people & the like. Mark McKinney was really good & Isabella Rosselini has to be the most entrancing film actress occasionally working today. But this film reminded StinkyLulu of Brad -- of criticlasm -- who often asks the question (especially of live theater): who is this FOR? Well StinkyLulu has no idea who The Saddest Music in the World was for...but good for them. StinkyLulu won't be crowding that table anytime soon.

To be rigorously honest, though, it would be wrong of StinkyLulu to rant so about The Saddest Music In the World without mentioning that it did contribute one of the most indelible cinema visuals of recent memory: Isabella Rosselini's glass leg, especially as it filled with beer... Wild, just wild, and so strangely beautiful...

Ah well. Just too ArtsyPooPoo for StinkyLulu...


Who's THAT?!: StinkyLulu's Favorite Breakout Performer of 2004

StinkyLulu never noticed Rachel McAdams before enjoying her Alpha Bitch turn as Regina George in the most excellent Mean Girls... Who had? And as Regina George, McAdams' vicious charisma was a crucial anchor for a film that would otherwise prolly have fluttered away into the pop culture effluvia of 2004. But, in no small part because of McAdams, Mean Girls emerged as one of StinkyLulu's favorite films of 2004.

But. Playing the uber-bitch in a smartish teen comedy is -- honestly -- a real easy place to shine. So it was in The Notebook -- the unabashedly sentimental romantic epic that no one saw -- that StinkyLulu really sat up to notice Rachel McAdams. She was playing the kind of plucky 40s heroine, involved in a wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance, complete with southern accents, that inspires most movie actresses to excel in banality. (Hi Ashley!) But not Ms. Rachel... Parrying with Ryan Gosling (whose preternatural screen presence crowds most everyone from his scenes), McAdams more than holds her own. Even more she makes you believe that she would grow up to be Gena Rowlands (which -- in the film -- she ostensibly does). Either of these accomplishments StinkyLulu considers totally remarkable. That a heretofore unknown actress did, doing so in a thoroughly charismatic way... well, StinkyLulu was suitably impressed...

Even more though: in either role, any seriously competent actress would likely have done well. However, it takes someone with the uncommon gifts of a real movie actress to (a) dodge the cliches scripted like landmines all over both characters and (b) to put a personal but not-distracting stamp on two such incredibly different roles. Rachel McAdams does and -- StinkyLulu suspects -- might just be the rare kind of movie starlet who can really act. (Sorry, Kirsten). StinkyLulu's got the appropriate digits crossed!

Yay, Rachel McAdams, yay!


FAUXMOSEXUALITY - Most Annoying Movie Trend of 2004

Clearly the most annoying trend in movies this year is something StinkyLulu's taken to calling "Fauxmosexuality" -- the inclusion of gay characters or themes that bear no resemblance to anything mildly "real" and, worse, carry little to no entertainment value whatsoever.

Basically, you're seeing "fauxmosexuality" when you see a putatively queer character and you ask yourself: "WHERE did they GET that? And can we send that BACK?" But the thing about fauxmosexuality is that it's not simple homophobia, of either the banal or brutal variety. Rather, it's when the out homos crafting the characters let the hollywood process boil things down to some misshapen & ultimately unwearable form of queerness. It's queer eye blind. It's the Stephen Spinella character in Connie & Carla, the reigning drag queen of Los Angeles who quavers in fear of coming out to her younger brother. Or the procreating lesbians in Cheryl Dunye'sMy Baby's Daddy. Or the flamer-turned-gay-republican in Paul Rudnick'sThe Stepford Wives...

Fauxmosexuality is to queerness as olestra is to butter. Not as tasty, not as dangerous, and may cause... any number of generally stinky side effects. Avoid avoid avoid.


Most Interesting Movie about RACE in 2004

StinkyLulu was surprised that so few movies made the short list in this category this year. Perhaps a comment on the present historical moment? But, no matter. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is plenty good. The basic set up? Harold (John Cho), a Korean-American corporate dweeb, and his roommate, Kumar (Kal Penn), an Indian-American med student, are bored with their post-college 20something lives and (a) it's Friday night, (b) they get stoned, (c) they start to hankering for White Castle burgers and (d) they head for Jersey.

On first glance, this flick looks like a goof-ball/stoner/horndog/roadtrip movie. Which is exactly what it is. But what is so unrelentingly cool about this film is that, in this pitch perfect disaster-upon-disaster 24hour epic comedy, in every joke/setup, race operates dynamically in a way that StinkyLulu's like to never seen in a mainstream Hollywood film. In Harold and Kumar..., sometimes it matters that Harold's Korean, or that Kumar's Indian, or that they're both Asian, or that they're both not white/Jewish/black... See, in Harold and Kumar..., race always matters. Just HOW it matters changes from moment to moment, from joke to joke. And the jokes work too... All of which, when taken together, emerges as a quite compelling accomplishment, if you ask StinkyLulu.

So, check out Harold and Kumar.... You will be surprised.


StinkyLulu's Niftiest Narrative Styling Trend of 2004

StinkyLulu loves stories. That's why StinkyLulu sees so many movies. But few things drain the blood from StinkyLulu's soul as thoroughly as labored, tedious or trite storytelling. That's why StinkyLulu's always on the prowl for movies that innovate the medium to its very limits to carve stories into the celluloid.

This year, two films made by filmmakers in their 30s, brought what is so derisively called "MTV-Moviemaking" to really cool places. Typically this accusation is deserved by folks like McG who bring the most style-obsessed, marketing-minded aspects of the music video genre to film. But these two filmakers -- Jonathan Caouette of Tarnation and Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights -- deploy the saturated colors and dizzying edits of music video in telling their emotionally saturated & dizzying stories.

Caouette's Tarnation and Berg's Friday Night Lights tell stories, biographical ones, that rely upon but nonetheless confound ready logics of good/bad, victory/defeat, guilty/innocent, etc. Further, the folks whose lives become the basis of the characters in these films refute even rudimentary foundations of characterization for either the filmmaker or (in Berg's case) the actors. Nonetheless, Berg & Caouette both create montages of herkyjerky character moments of intense action, attaching each cinematic moment to the other as tiles in a mosaic rather than beads on a string. The result is almost like one of those computer generated picture montages, where tiny pictures become the pixilated tiles in a larger portrait. What's astonishing to StinkyLulu is just how niftily effective it is as a narrative style of filmmaking.

Berg's and Caouette's films emerge as intellectually provocative, emotionally intense, and visually thrilling films, each telling a searing story of human struggle, a storytelling style both respectful and brutal in emotional forthrightness.



Itsa New Year! Itsa time! StinkyLulu's BIG STINKYS & BIG LULUS of 2004!

Well, it's that time again: End of year "best of 2004" movie lists from all sides. Celebrity necrologies everywhere you turn. The beginning of 'award season' is nigh...

SO StinkyLulu's gonna join the fray.
Every day for the next few weeks, StinkyLulu'll be posting some movie summary (a list, a mini-review, etc) from the larger project of STINKYLULU'S BIG STINKYS & BIG LULUS OF 2004!


This morning, StinkyLulu announces:

The Incredibles

In a large handful of ways, Pixar's latest The Incredibles truly was a delightful film experience. StinkyLulu loved the stylized character design, the uber-retro-modern scenography, the action-packed-but-not-at-the-expense-of-good-dialogue style and the always welcome vocal stylings of Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell.

Recall StinkyLulu's favoritest film of 2003 -- X2: X-Men United? Another superhero film where the central premise drew from the idea that superheroes had to hide because mainstream society was unable or unwilling to appreciate difference as embodied by the superheroes. Another superhero film where the superheroes faced mortal danger from some wacko whose primal trauma with a superhero inspires the bloodlust that currently threatens all superheroes, especially the ones the film introduces us to, and whose campaign of terror and revenge must be stopped.

So. Similar premise. Totally different films. X2 narrated a coalition story where militants (Magneto's radical exceptionalism) and moderates (Professor X's determined assimilationism) must forge possibly temporary alliances in the face of disastrous evil. The Incredibles offers an allegory of Family Values, ala The Promise Keepers. Forget that the film's villian is in effect a superhero serial killer. The only threats that matter in this film are threats to the Incredible Family. Note that each member of the family accomplishes their innate superhero skills not as a mode of self-discovery or individuation BUT in service of the protection of the nuclear family. Throughout this film, the only goal that matters is family togetherness and -- more important -- familial autonomy in which the father's cultural authority as head of household is restored. Putting Papa Incredible back in the Superhero business places the family back in balance, which is what -- according to the film -- really matters. As such, The Incredibles seems to be a perfect story for the Bush era. Protect the nuclear family from the evils of contemporary society. Worry only about your own bio-relatives (and possibly a specially chosen black friend); everyone else is on their own.

Which is why StinkyLulu names The Incredibles as THE CREEPIEST STEALTH NEOCONSERVATIVE FILM OF THE YEAR!!!
Honorable Mentions in this category include:

SuperSize Me ~~~ Spanglish

*PLEASE NOTE that the character of the costume designer will receive further comment in StinkyLulu's forthcoming CREEPIEST RACIAL MOMENTS OF 2004

StinkyLulu's 2005 FilmLog

Movies Screened between January 1, 2005, and January 31, 2006.
(Slop-over into January '06 allows for delayed movie premieres typical in the fly-over states.)

  1. Brokeback Mountain (+)
  2. The Producers (-)
  3. Pride & Prejudice (+)
  4. The Squid & The Whale (+)
  5. Rumor Has It (+)
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (-)
  7. Prime (+)
  8. The Family Stone (+)
  9. Shopping (-)
  10. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire (-)
  11. Rent (-)
  12. Jarhead (-)
  13. Capote (+)
  14. Shopgirl (+)
  15. Stay (-)
  16. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (-)
  17. The Lord of War (-)
  18. A History of Violence (+)
  19. Grizzly Man (+)
  20. RollBounce (+)
  21. Junebug (+)
  22. Billy's Dad Is A Fudgepacker (-)
  23. Deliriously Jen (+)
  24. Ryan's Life (-)
  25. Shakespeare's Sonnets (-)
  26. Taco Chick & Salsa Girl (+)
  27. The Sadness of Johnson Joe Jangles (+)
  28. Oedipus N+1 (+)
  29. The Forty Year Old Virgin (-)
  30. Me And You And Everyone We Know (+)
  31. Broken Flowers (+)
  32. Hustle & Flow (-)
  33. Wedding Crashers (-)
  34. The Bad News Bears (-)
  35. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls/1970 (+)
  36. The Fantastic Four (-)
  37. Sky High (+)
  38. Shortcut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela (-)
  39. Charley and the Chocolate Factory (+)
  40. Herbie: Fully Loaded (+)
  41. Dark Water (-)
  42. Bewitched (-)
  43. Saving Face (+)
  44. Howl's Moving Castle (+)
  45. Mysterious Skin (+)
  46. Me And You And Everyone We Know (+)
  47. Mad Hot Ballroom (+)
  48. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (+)
  49. Palindromes (+)
  50. The Lords of Dogtown (+)
  51. 3-Iron (+)
  52. Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (-)
  53. F Is For Fake/1973 (-)
  54. Monster-In-Law (+)
  55. Crash (+)
  56. The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (-)
  57. The Interpreter (-)
  58. Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (+)
  59. Off The Map (+)
  60. Sin City (+)
  61. Beauty Shop (-)
  62. Bride and Prejudice (+)
  63. Diary of a Mad Black Woman (-)
  64. Home of the Brave/2004 (+)
  65. Born into Brothels (-)
  66. William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (-)
  67. Million Dollar Baby (-)
  68. Bad Education (+)
  69. Beah: A Black Woman Speaks/2003 (+)
  70. Goodbye Dragon Inn (+)
  71. Forever Callas (-)
  72. The Aviator (-)
  73. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (+)
  74. Finding Neverland (+)
  75. Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (-)
  76. Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (+)
  77. Meet the Fockers (-)