Have you ever been at the grocery store before going to a party or making dinner, and you want to buy a bottle of wine while you’re there, but then you realize that what you’re looking at is not wine but “wine product”? I might write about wine sometimes too on this blog. Deal with it. Wine is fun.

So, according to “Truth in Wine Advertising,” wine product is: The definition of a “Wine product”, to be changed to: a blended formulation of wine, water, sugar or sugar syrups, with or without flavorings and an alcohol content of less than 7% can not be advertised, marketed or sold with a wine variety designation.

I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

I’m putting forth the idea that there is a distinction to be made between “films” and “film product.” Movies with any stylistic or narrative ambitions are films (I’m not a snob, I mean anything), but movies that exist solely to sell Happy Meals or that take all of the trappings of a movie but none of the substance, those better belong to the category “film product.” Some people would just call these bad movies – I don’t think they are movies at all. I think it’s silly to even suggest it.

Talking about this with a colleague (my friend Marc, a Film Studies student also), he referred me to a book I already knew pretty well, Richard Dyer’s Pastiche. It is pretty darn entertaining, as far as academically-minded books go, and it talks a lot about the differences between terms like homage, parody, copy, and, finally, pastiche.

I’m going somewhere with this.

Straight up, the film industry puts out too much “film product” directed to women and not nearly enough “films.” This fall has been pretty prolific in terms of women writers and directors putting out what I deem superior films about and (to an extent) for women: I’m thinking of An Education, Bright Star, even Whip It! (Hey. I liked Whip It!) But my point is that there are too many romantic comedies that are neither funny nor romantic, and way way too many movies centered on a wedding. Seriously: My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Date, The Wedding Planner, Wedding Daze… some are good, some aren’t, but it’s just a lot of wedding, don’t you think?

That said, even those exhibits are intereresting as anthropological items. Let’s pretend that’s why I watch them, and not because they are the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy so sweet that your teeth ache after eating too much of it. Anyway, we must always be vigilant: is this a film or film product? Does it attempt originality in its presentation or its message? Or is it a three-minute movie trailer stretched out over ninety minutes? It’s all of interest to me, but the sooner we become vigilant in labelling film versus film product, the sooner (I hope I hope) Hollywood will step up and make us better movies: the movies we want, not the ones they think we want or that they expect us to accept without protest.


Yo, Readership

March 6, 2010

I’m back, chickies.

I could come up with a million excuses for why I haven’t blogged since September. A big one — and I’m not proud of this — is that I have been trying to come up with an “angle” so that I could get a book deal (see: Julie Powell, Julie and Julia).

But, as it turns out, I’m not an “angle” kind of girl. As my Facebook profile says, my interests include “high art, low art, [and] extremely low art,” so let’s call that the subject of my blog, shall we? All of that good stuff. Like Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.

On a personal note, life is good. I’m currently unemployed but likely to be living the student life again come fall… enjoying NYC while I still can… and just starting to embrace the fact that I turned twenty-five in January. TWENTY-FIVE. Goodness.

Love Happens With Robots.

September 11, 2009

On a lighter note.

I work in midtown for the moment, and treading the same few blocks every day, I encounter the same posters for upcoming movies and television shows. The more I see them, the more issues I find I have with these two promotional images.


Okay, I get it: it’s Robo-Jolie. I am strangely tranfixed by the idea behind this high-concept movie: it’s like Cruising meets “The Sims” — and, for no extra charge, you get Bruce Willis in a terrible toupet! (You gotta watch the trailer for this.) That said, fixation confessed, this “edgy” campaign is not edgy at all. Sexy robots? Really? Does anyone remember the fembots from the first Austin Powers? That’s right. S&M aesthetic or not, sexy robots are high camp, and these posters seem to have no concept of that.

Love Happens.

Great title: now I don’t have to go see it. If anyone had asked me, I would have said, “Hey, don’t tell me the ending in the title. That’s what trailers are for!” Wouldn’t it have been better to call the movie “Maybe Love Will Happen” or “Hey, Is Love Going to Happen or Not?” or “When is Jennifer Aniston going to find a husband already?!?!”

You know I’m a sucker for chick flicks, but this is not my kind of movie. When Love Happens, must it look like two golden retrievers nuzzling?

Double Indemnity is one of the greatest film noirs ever made, and this is a great article about it. You should read it. What the author does not mention in the article is how shooting a woman from below, as Wilder does in this scene, is not very flattering: makes the hips look wider, among other things, and if you’ve seen those paparazzi photos of heiresses and starlets taken from the gutter, you know how invasive that kind of shot is too. So, that’s something to think about: our femme fatale is meant to be sexual without being sexy, sort of crude, you know? Anyway, Stanwyck is a very brave, not-vain actress, and that is just one reason why I love her. (Trivia from IMDb)

And watch the clip too… and if you are pressed for time, start from 4:34. Impeccable noir banter. I adore it.

This is for your cinematic education, kiddies.

An Unexpected Delight!

August 18, 2009

Dear Friends:

Thank you for requesting the following email notice.

Playscripts, Inc. is pleased to announce the publication of “Parfumerie” adapted by E.P. Dowdall.  Visit the website below to read a lengthy sample of the play for free, and to order books and performance rights:


Thank you for your support of new work!

Best wishes,
Jason Pizzarello
Publications Director
Playscripts, Inc.

I’ve been waiting for this e-mail for too, too long, and it’s funny, because just the other day, this play was on my brain. This play was the basis for the movies The Shop Around the Corner and In The Good Old Summertime and the musical “She Loves Me,” and also the inspiration for the AOL commercial with a secondary romantic-comedy plot (too harsh?), You’ve Got Mail.

Do you understand what this means, readers? Can you even fathom how many hours I will spend in front of the mirror, by myself, reading this play aloud? Can you grasp my mixed feelings of glee and shame at having admitted that last part?

I must have this play in my possession. Now.

UPDATE: I know, between this post and the last one, we might have to change the title of this blog to “Annie Loves Romantic Comedies and Doesn’t Care Who Knows It.” Do not smirk: that might actually happen.

And I don’t mean because talent is sexy, or wisdom is sexy, or whatever. I mean that Meryl Streep exudes real and actual sex in three dimensions, and Ms. Fox, sadly, does not. I am toying with the term “sexual simulacrum” right now… if I can pull this together into an actual analysis, you bet that you will be the first to know.

That is why I want to see It’s Complicated (link to trailer). Am I totally comfortable with the casual use of internet terminology, “It’s Complicated” as a reference to the Facebook relationship status? Do I like to hear Alec Baldwin say “OMG”? No ma’am I do not. From a young age, I have had a very strong sense of age appropriateness. As a small child (let’s say between 3 and 5), I was very inquisitive about all things. If I saw a blues album cover in my dad’s record collection, I would ask “Why is that man sad?” If we watched a movie in which the leading lady dumped her obstacle fiance or boyfriend to be with the leading man, I would ask, “What happened to the other guy?” (Answer: an intriguing concept for a less-intriguing film.)

But I digress. I also used to ask my dad why an adult would wear a t-shirt or a hat with Mickey Mouse on it, because Mickey Mouse was for kids. This happened, I think, at Disneyworld. He explained because it was fun, because they liked Mickey Mouse too, and according to him, I chewed over the idea and found his answer unsatisfactory. I still do not like to see children act like adults, or adults act like children. My sensitivity to unseemliness verges on British, and acting your age is the only way to be, well, seemly. I think. And social networking: for young people. Over forty, you better be using that Facebook page to post baby pictures, or else I am stamping you with “unseemly” right on your cyber-forehead. You dig?

Anyway, I really want to see this movie anyway and am confident it will be much more enjoyable than Meyer’s previous endeavor into post-menopausal romantic comedy, Something’s Gotta Give, which both me and my mom found disappointing and somewhat embarrassing. (Before you judge… I’m not an ageist… I watch “The Golden Girls”…)

This movie, however, looks very promising, and not just because I am a 30 Rock/SNL buff. It is Ms. Streep: when I think of Meryl Streep as a young actress, I think of her in Manhattan, Kramer vs Kramer… sort of playing these cold, distant beauties. But now, when I see her on-screen, in this trailer or in Julie and Julia, she projects this incredible warmth! Now, even when she plays bitches like in The Devil Wears Prada, you cannot help but detect there is a tender heart beating beneath that icy rib cage. She’s a woman who projects both maternal and youthful energies on-screen (and at once!), and I think this will be a marvelous vehicle for her. Pardon my gush.

That is why I am tremendously optimistic for this movie, in spite of its title. All I’m saying.

UPDATE: Apparently this “Meryl Streep” woman has caught on with people other than me. What do you know?

UPDATE 2: Just adorable. More “Sesame Street” segments to come, I promise…

My great-uncle, who I always called “Pop,” passed away last night; his wife, who I called “Mimi” (but most called Aunt Mill or Millie) died over a year ago. They were married for something like 65 years. We know from a diary she kept for our benefit — given to her by a grandchild, full of questions about family history — that she had never had a boyfriend before Pop, but he had had a girlfriend or two, and she didn’t like that. Fifty years of marriage, and she still had the capacity to be jealous! Clearly we were related. They met at the market. He was a stockboy, and she was fifteen, picking up groceries. As I recall, they were secretly engaged for a while…

The two of them were never apart as long as I knew them, and they constantly worried about one another, she about his health, he about her loneliness. He used to sit in the room with her and hold her hand when she was at the dentist. Maybe that’s what love is, just worrying obsessively, helplessly, irrationally about someone every moment. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve seen of love, so that’s all I have to offer as a definition.

I’m not someone with an immense amount of faith, and in a lot of ways, I believe what I want to when I want to, and care to, and have to. This is one of those “have to” times. I have to believe that they are together, for the first time in way too long for both of them. They are so so happy, still in love, and without a single thing to worry about.

Home to NJ for a few days…