Tuesday, November 27, 2018

FilmStruck - It's a damn shame

Right now I am in between articles at a job I enjoy. Is it my dream job? No-I am one of the millions of people who get up every morning and go to a job I don’t love. I just finished an article about the Sheriff and the Police Department having a dispute. Next, I will work on an article about the local Girl Scout Troop attending a funeral for one of their own. I don’t get to write about what I love-which is Classic film unless I write about it here for free.
When I’m not writing for the newspaper or writing here I’m reading about Classic film, or I’m watching it. The most significant source for classic cinema is TCM or FilmStruck-or it was. Tomorrow we lose one of the two most significant sources of classic and unique films. What a damn shame it is for all of us. 
Two years ago my film pallet included classic films that I was able to catch on TCM, movies that everyone knows from the seventies and eighties like Terms of Endearment, Caddyshack and Ghostbusters, and the films I have grown up with and watch now. I felt that I had a good knowledge of movies.
Then came FilmStruck.
FilmStruck means a little bit of something different to everyone. It was introduced to it at a particularly difficult time in my life. I was in a tailspin of depression that I hadn’t quite recognized yet and I was going home from work every Friday afternoon and not getting out of bed until I had to go back to work on Monday morning. During that time I had many hours of films to watch. 
Guys, do you know who I was introduced to during those dark days? 
First, let me tell you that I traveled to Grey Gardens so many times with Big Edie and Little Edie. Those two brought me so much joy and so many laughs. I feel in love with Little Edie, and now as I’ve started to claw my way out of that dark time in my life, Little Edie remains such a bright light in my world. 
I had dipped my toe into foreign films thanks to TCM about a year before the launch of FilmStruck thanks to one Black Friday showing of Il Sorpasso, but, FilmStruck introduced me to Betty (Blue) and Zorg and their intense and troubled love affair. It reminded me that great films come from all over the world. 
When I had men come at me at work and make snide comments about the job I was doing I would find a great woman director or dominant female lead or both like Lily Baldwin in Swallowed. That isn’t exactly a film I can find floating around just anywhere. 
This fall I wanted a refresher on all of the previous A Star Is Born films, and FilmStruck gave me all of them to watch before going to see the Bradley Cooper version. I didn’t have to rent them all or go buy them. They were all right there, and I was able to sit on a Saturday and watch them all in one place. That is something that I took for granted, but appreciated so much. 
I also appreciated that I was able to see people I genuinely like live their dreams and work writing about the films they care about and produce content that mattered to people like me. Did they know that there were people like me who were sitting in bed, unable to get up and take a shower or change their clothes or even function some days? Did they know that some days the only human contact I had outside of my immediate family were the intros that were on FilmStruck or TCM? That was the only thing I really looked forward to. I needed and craved that knowledge to keep me going another hour or day. It was a choose your own adventure game for film lovers, and for a full calendar year I needed it, and it got me through many weekends.
The people of FS were living the dream and I envied that so damn much. They were some of the lucky few.
Thank you, everyone, at FilmStruck for all you did for so many. Tomorrow or Thursday or whenever I log in, and there is nothing, it will be such an empty and sad feeling. It will be a little jarring because it was such a fear I had every weekend when I came home and climbed in bed to get ready for my ‘hibernation’ from the world for a few days. I was always scared that I would be abandoned. 
I hope FilmStruck finds another home-you will all be missed more than you know. 
Thank you so much for getting me through.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

TCMFF 2018 The Final Day

This is my final TCMFF 2018 post. We made it to the end, and I hope you enjoyed this journey. This year was a lot more different than in previous years. I didn’t attend as many films as I usually do and I have a lot of mixed emotions about that. I’m sad that I didn’t take in the full festival like I typically do. I love going from one film to another. That is the experience that I want and the experience that I love. This year we were able to travel outside of Hollywood, and that was incredible, and I don’t regret that for a second. I’m so glad we were able to do that.
Sunday I had plans to attend Woman of the Year, Growing Up Mankiewicz, This Thing Called Love, Finishing School and then I would finish the night with A Star is Born or The Phantom of the Opera.
It was an ambitious final day, but when I woke up, I was so exhausted. I didn’t want to go to the first movie, so we decided to get breakfast at Mel’s. Did I mention that I live for Mel’s avocado toast and eggs? I do-sidebar, I made this for myself the week we got back. I tried so hard to copy what I thought Mel’s recipe was. I ended up with a broken tooth, crying. Guys, I broke my tooth on avocado toast, eggs and bacon. Also, I consider myself a decent cook. I’ll also never try to make it again.
After Mel’s, we attended Growing Up Mankiewicz at the Roosevelt Hotel in Club TCM. It was interesting, but the turnout was so huge that we were stuck in the back corner and couldn’t see or hear the conversation. I want to suggest that for people in back TCM maybe think about getting a few TV monitors and louder speakers. What I did hear was interesting. I would like to see a future panel with just Josh and Ben Mankiewicz talking about their father. I am also wildly interested in him and his work with Bobby Kennedy, but that is something I would be interested in because I love anything about the Kennedy’s and politics in the ’60s.
After that Lauren took Brian and me to Silver Lake to eat at Little Dom’s. I didn’t realize it until looking it up just now that it is a favorite of Jon Hamm, Katherine Heigl, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Reynolds. It’s a small Italian place in Los Feliz. According to my Bible, Bravotv.com the person you’re most likely to run into here, however, is Ryan Gosling, who dines so frequently he’s been spotted coming and going at least three times in a two-week span. We didn’t see any celebrities the Sunday afternoon we were there, but the food…guys the food.
I had the Nutella Panino and then proceeded to eat Lauren's potatoes, possibly the greatest potatoes I have ever eaten in my life. It was a great lunch made even more significant by the fact that for dessert, yeah dessert from the Nutella Sando I had, I ate the most fabulous cake I have ever had in my life with my hands as we drove down Hollywood Boulevard.
Sitting with two of my favorite people in the world eating the most magnificent cake I have ever had in my life with my hands as we drove in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on our way to see more great films during the TCM Film Festival...as I sit here watching the snow blow outside this Starbucks in Lincoln, Nebraska on this frigid November day, that moment in time is what gets me through the year. This feeling that I have right now, thinking about how happy that one moment made me, the sights the sounds and that moment is what makes the hard work, the saving, the budgeting all year so worth it. That moment is one of so many that make saving all year so worth it.
When we got back, it was too late for Brian to see Bull Durham and he has yet to let me live this down. Lauren went to test for the TCM intro thing while Brian watched and chatted with his best TCM lady friend, Zillah, while I took off over to wander around Grauman's and the rooftop of the mall area. I found a great view of the downtown area and the Hollywood sign took some pictures and tried to make my final decision on what film to end the festival.
I went into the festival with the final decision of seeing The Phantom of the Opera. I love Lon Chaney so much, and he holds a special place in my heart. I have left feedback for TCM to show a Chaney Sr. film at a film festival, so I felt that I had to go. I don't really care for Phantom. I had been so looking forward to seeing the new Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga adaptation of A Star is Born so I wanted to see the Frederich March version on the big screen in the same calendar year because that would be amazing, but I also wanted to see Blessed Event.
I guess if you picture it, me at the top of the Hollywood and Highland Center looking out over Hollywood Boulevard deep in thought contemplating which film to see, it's so stupidly dramatic.
I heard a lot of chatter that people were going to see Star, so I decided to avoid the crowd (DUMB) and skip that.
Theater four, Nah.
It's Lon Chaney, life and game-changer. He makes me feel the feelings. I was sold, and that was the plan. I walked into the theater to get in line, took a number and immediately changed my mind. I gave my number to someone else and walked over to The Miracle of Morgan's Creek!
What the hell?
I know-I broke the first rule of TCMFF, do not repeat films. Is that a rule or is that just my rule or common sense? Whatever it is I broke it. It was just so much fun, and I saw all the fun gals like Kellee and Aurora headed in, and I was like, I need to finish on a fun and upbeat note. So that's exactly what I did. It was a great crowd, not as good as the first crowd, but good. I laughed and loved it again. This was the year of seeing the same film on the big screen more than once, well at least it was for me.
I recently saw Blessed Event on FilmStruck and I really didn’t like it, so I’m glad I didn’t battle my way into that. Also losing FilmStruck is a fucking shame and pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. That’s all I have to say about that for now.
I regret not going to see A Star is Born but that is a Nikki problem, and I will have to live with that.
After the film, there is always that awful dread of knowing its over, but I had a highlight of the festival of getting to sit poolside at the closing party held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and chatting with Nicole, Kate and Casey. It was terrific getting to know these girls I talk to online, all year long even better. I will probably do another long, sappy post about how much I genuinely love my TCM friends. I say it all the time, and every year but honestly there is nobody like them. I have grown so close to my TCM pals. I recently got back from a weekend in Vegas with one of my best friends whom I met at a TCM Film Festival. I would also like to plan another with these girls I just mentioned. I could go on for days about what Classic Film/TCM and the Festival has given me in the way of friendships, but I'll save that for another time.
We ended our night with a traditional trip to In-N-Out and our final goodbyes.
If you're on the fence about attended a Festival, please feel free to reach out and ask any questions. I would be happy to answer honestly or direct you to someone who can. With anything, there are things to be improved upon and things that I love.
My main piece of advice is to talk to everyone as much as you can in line and savor the moment. Take it all in because it goes so fast, but mainly talk, talk, talk. You never know whom you will meet or whom you will connect with. The people guys, the people. My heart could just burst when I think of each person who has pulled me out of the darkness over the past few rough years. It's a great community that I am so damn blessed to be a part of; it's honestly something special.

Friday, November 2, 2018

What film 'broke you?'

A few weeks ago I went with Brian to see the newest version of A Star is Born It was my second time seeing it and Brian’s first. Okay, gang, I won't sugar coat it-I love Cooper’s telling of this tale. The star who is born is Bradley Cooper, and I can’t get enough of it. I have heard that people love it and people absolutely hate it. I get it-I really do. I have seen all of the previous versions of ‘Star,’ and honestly, I had to go into Cooper’s version by separating myself from the others. I went in telling myself that this was an entirely new film. 
What this post isn’t is a review of the film, what this is, is a question for all of you  When Brian and I walked out of A Star is Born, he was moved to tears and couldn’t speak. We walked a few blocks in complete silence. He had seen the Frederick March version and absolutely loved it. In fact, he still declares it the best; however, he walked out of the Cooper telling of the story, turned to me and said ‘ No other film has ever made me feel the way this one has.’ 
That statement probably should have made me feel bad for him, but instead, I was elated. After many years of trying to explain to him why a classic film or indeed what all films mean to me, he was finally getting it. He was having his first real emotional reaction to a movie. He felt what many films made me feel on any given occasion. I watched as he worked through this emotional roller coaster of feelings.
I truly loved this entire thing because I felt that he was now going to understand it all and he was now open to a whole new film-watching experience.
Do you remember the first film that made you feel that way?
There are several that made me feel so many emotions.
I remember feeling complete devastation when Leonardo DiCaprio killed himself in Romeo+Juliet in 1997 (the movie came out in 1996, but we watched it on VHS over and over a year later). As I sit here writing this on my laptop as an adult 21 years later, I can see me and my sister, and our best friend Jessica sitting in front of my grandparent's television watching it over and over at their tiny house in Dawson, Nebraska. We memorized each song, each line as we cried hysterically and ate chocolate ice cream with potato chips crushed up on top.
My first real heartbreak, the real heartache I truly understood came from William Wyler’s 1939 version of Wuthering Heights. I saw Laurence Oliver’s face and was totally mesmerized that beautiful sunny day in 2002. We lived on Barada Street, and all of our windows were open as Brian mowed outside. It smelled like grass as I watched Heathcliff tell the tale of Cathy. My heart broke as I cried and cried. For days I thought about the two ill-fated lovers and teared up.  A great film sticks with you for days; like a ghost, it haunts you. 
Months later I found myself up late for a Silent Sunday night on TCM and was introduced to two films that broke me wide open. It was one actor that made me realize that a movie can make you feel so many different things. I met Lon Chaney in a film that I still consider the greatest silent film and the most exceptional acting performance of all time, The Unknown. I was blown away. To this day I can’t find the words to describe how Chaney’s performance made me feel. I was so moved by his portrayal of Alonzo The Armless Wonder. I know, I know, you wouldn’t expect a couple of circus movies to the turning point for me, but they were.  The other was He Who Gets Slapped. I was so haunted. I remember turning off my TV and lying there with my eyes wide open for hours. I had gone from hating Chaney for being a bad guy to sympathizing with him for loving a woman so much he would do anything, to feeling his pain deep within my soul, to being so terrified of him in another movie where his clown get-up is the most terrifying thing I have seen….I mean. My emotions were all over. No actor had up to that point or since then made me feel the way Chaney did. I knew I felt my emotions a little deeper than I had before when it came to a movie and there was no going back. Films were in my blood now. I tried to explain that to everyone I knew but until you found that movie that ‘broke you open,’ you didn’t understand. 
Which brings me back to A Star is Born. I loved it, and it did give me goosebumps and made me cry and feel many things a newer film hadn’t made me feel in a long time. I didn’t expect it to give me the feeling it did, but I am so glad it did, but I'm even more glad it broke Brian open like Chaney did me so many years ago.
I would love to know what film ‘broke you open?’ We all have one that emotionally ‘destroyed’ us in the best possible way. Let me know yours!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

TCMFF 2018 - This aggression will not stand, meditation with Jeff Bridges

Saturday, April 28, 2018
I made it to Grauman’s in time to get in the massive line that ran right along the NYSNC ‘Dirty Pop-Up Shop’ line. People were confused, myself included and some were in the wrong lines, myself included. Once I was directed to the correct line, I tried to salvage what I could of my purse and make sure all I had all of my belongings. Luckily here we are nearly six months later, and I’m not missing anything, so that’s good. I stood in line for maybe half an hour or so. It really didn’t seem like long at all. 
The street hot dogs have smelled so dang good for three years now, and I was dying for one. Unfortunately, I always get talked out of getting one. Everyone thinks I'll get sick from it and I shouldn’t trust ‘street meat.’ I disagree and if you have eaten one of those delicious dogs being made on the street on a pop-up cart next to a guy holding a snake, please send me an email and let me know that you're alive. I would like to use you as proof that I can live through a street dog next year. I settled for more ramen because I will never get sick of it, ever. 
Brian was quite a bit ahead of me in line, so he was in the theater sooner and got us seats while I purchased us some incredibly expensive but incredibly necessary White Russians. 
One sip and I was drunk. 
The biggest complaint I have about the film festival this year is that they didn’t do the big interview with a celebrity at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre this year. That is something I look forward to and something you absolutely don’t get anywhere else. Luckily the interview with Jeff Bridges prior to Big Lebowski kind of made up for that. 
This is a movie that I was never fully into until I was in my 20’s. I never appreciated it for what it really was. I couldn’t tell you what that is but whatever it is, it's great. Jeff Bridges talked for quite a while and opened by not knowing what anniversary the film was celebrating. I thought that was fitting. He led the entire audience in meditation which was totally unexpected. If you had asked me what I would be doing as I entered that theater, meditation with Jeff Bridges and hundreds of other people wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. 
Some highlights from the interview:
Bridges has the sweater and shoes from the film, not the rug. He said the clothes for the film were his. The costume designer came to his home and found most of the wardrobe for the Dude in his closet. 
He said it was so cool to face off with Ben Gazzara and he was so wonderful to work with. He discussed Iceman Cometh, but honestly, I can't remember a lot of what he said about it. I can tell you that during those interviews you get to see during the festival it is so surreal. The first year I tried to take notes and record a lot, so I could ‘report back’ for the newspaper. For the past two years, I have been better at just enjoying it. There are moments that I have to stop and tell myself to ‘realize where you are and enjoy it, take it all in so you remember this feeling and this moment.’ This was one of those moments. I have some audio from this interview, but I can't find it at the moment. When I do, I'll add to this post. 
The interview was incredible. Bridges is highly entertaining and fun just to sit back and listen to. 
The Big Lebowski (1998)
“The Dude” (Jeff Bridges) Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, a couple of guys break into his house and pee on his rug that happens to tie the room together. He goes to the millionaire Lebowski’s house to ask for the money to pay for his rug, he accepts a job to pay some people off and find the rich Lebowski’s wife Bunny. His bowling buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donnie  (Steve Bucheme) try to help, but there just a lot of white Russians, mix-ups, and dudery. 
I could go into the entire plot, but there is just so much to unpack. So if you want the play by play, I suggest you watch it. Better yet, I plea with you and beg that you watch it.
Getting to see it in a packed Theater like Grauman’s was incredible and getting to see it while drinking White Russians and being introduced by Bridges, well that was on another level. 
The movie went a little late due to Bridges unexpectedly long interview, so we decided just to go back to the hotel and call it a night so we were all rested up for the last day of the festival. . I

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

TCMFF 2018-I'll just move into the Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, April 28, 2018
When I received the schedule for the Festival, this was the day that I had no problem scheduling. It was a slam dunk for me. I looked at it and knew exactly what films I would be seeing all day long. For the first time since I started attending the festival, my schedule didn’t change from the moment I received the schedule.
I planned to see His Girl Friday (1940); This Thing Called Love (1940); Wife vs. Secretary (1936); Girls About Town (1931); Show People (1928); The Big Lebowski (1998); Night of the Living Dead (1968).
To start the day we went to the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre) to see one of my favorite films of all time, His Girl Friday. When the schedule was announced I didn’t think twice about seeing this movie at the world-famous Hollywood theatre-however was the festival drew closer I went back and forth with my decision. I wondered if I should try to see something I hadn’t seen before, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist seeing one of my favorites with an audience on the big screen at Grauman’s.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to give you all the details of these movies because I want to encourage you all to see them. Each of the movies that were shown on this particular day were incredible. So I may not give you the ending. Find them on TCM or rent/buy them.
His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed by Howard Hawks, Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is the editor of The Morning Post learns his former reporter and ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is engaged to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). The engaged couple is going to settle down in Albany, NY and go to tell Burns the news. Burns doesn’t want to lose his best reporter or ex-wife, so he asks her to cover one last story, the story of the upcoming execution of Earl Williams. Along the way, Burns does everything he can to keep Hildy from leaving including getting Bruce thrown in jail (twice). In the press room near the prison, Hildy joins the rest of the newspapermen to await the execution and finds herself trapped in the pressroom with Earl Williams. The Sheriff shows up as does the mayor, Walter and some of the other pressmen. Once they get out of the jam, Hildy realizes that she loves the thrill of the job and Walter so much that she can’t marry Bruce.
Jean Arthur was the first choice to play Hildy. Usually when I hear of someone else who was to be cast in the film I cringe and say ‘No way that person could have don’t that character justice,’ but…..I can see Arthur working in this role. I still love Russell though. Other actresses who turned down the role included, Carole Lombard, Margaret Sullavan, Ginger Rogers (who said she regretted it once she saw that Grant had been cast), Claudette Colbert and Irene Dunn. A ‘Girl Friday’ is a helper, especially a junior office worker or a personal assistant to a business executive. I glamorized a life as a newspaper reporter due to this film. I thought it would all be fun and exciting. Today I am the interim editor of my local newspaper. It's in a tiny town, and we are short-staffed because its 2018 and newspapers are very different from how they were in 1940 so I don’t live the life of Hildy Johnson but seeing this film made me want to.
After chuckling in the seat next to historian and author, Cari Beauchamp who introduced His Girl Friday, we went to check the line for This Thing Called Love. It was shown in the famed ‘Theater Four,’ and the line was long. We stood and chatted with a few pals for a while, but we ultimately decided to walk to In-N-Out for lunch. Naturally, a stop at In-N-Out is a must when you’re on the west coast. There is nothing better than a double-double and a coke. After lunch, we took a long walk down Sunset Boulevard and did some light shopping as we waited to get in line for Wife vs. Secretary at the Egyptian.
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
Directed by Clarence Brown, Van Stanhope (Clark Gable) is happily married to the beautiful Linda (Myrna Loy). Their relationship is picture perfect and built on trust, but friends and even her mother-in-law, start to warn her of her husband’s close friendship with his secretary Whitey (Jean Harlow). With all the pressure from all sides, Linda begins to doubt their relationship and question his faithfulness. When Van and Whitey go to Havana, Linda assumes the worst and asks for a divorce. Whitey and Van return to the U.S., and Van begs Linda to reconsider. Whitey goes to Linda and tells her that she would be a fool to walk away from a man like him.
I always love to show this film to people who declare themselves to be ‘anti-Harlow’ people. These are the people who have never seen a Harlow film and have a preconceived notion of who she is as an actress. I have found that several people imagine her to be a Marilyn Monroe character. That is so infuriating! Nobody who has seen this movie walks away disliking Harlow. She is so endearing and sweet.
This was one of six pairings of Gable and Harlow and the first of two pairings of Loy and Harlow. The film was a massive success for MGM bringing in a profit of over $876,000, ($15,648,914.78. in 2018.)
We left the theater walked outside and got back in line for the next film in the same theater. We were going to be seeing three consecutive films in this same venue.
The next film was Girls About Town from 1931. I had never seen it and guys I have some regrets with this one.
Girls About Town (1931)
Directed by the great George Cukor, Wanda Howard (Kay Francis) and Marie Bailey (Lilyan Tashman) go out with men to help businessman Jerry (Alan Dinehard) close a sale. Wanda is tired of how she is earning money, but her roommate and friend isn’t. The ladies go aboard a yacht with a prankster and his associate Jim (Joel McCrea). Jim starts falling for Wanda and vice versa. Jim asks Wanda to marry him, but Wanda informs him that she is already married. She asks her estranged husband for a divorce, and he agrees.
This is the point of the movie where I decide that people in the crowd look restless and you know what? They are probably going out to get in line for the next film, Show People. Show People was my big movie of the Festival. It was my must-see, can’t miss. Each year when the festival sends out their survey with suggestions I always suggest they show a Lon Chaney film or a Marion Davies film. Well, this year they showed both. I couldn’t risk not getting into them or getting a great seat. Plus our pal Lara Fowler at Backlots was going to be introducing it.
I got up and went outside to get in line. Probably not my wisest idea, okay it was flat out dumb! I was in the top 20 in line so I wasn’t the only one with this idea
. My thought process was that I could find Girls About Town on Itunes or YouTube, buy it while in line and watch it. It would be so simple. WRONG. You can't find it anywhere. Now I am going to solicit suggestions on where I can find it to finish it because I was really enjoying it. So I missed the final half of this movie while I stood outside waiting for my Marion.
I did make it in for Show People though so there’s that. Finally, in the few short years of attending the festival, I was blessed with a Marion Davies film. I had hoped it would be The Patsy, but it Show People is so great!
Show People (1928)
Peggy Pepper (Marion Davies) wants to be an actress in the pictures, so she and her father drive to Hollywood. While there she meets Billy Boone (William Haines). Billy gets her some work in a film. Peggy enters only to be squirt in the face with seltzer. She is heartbroken, but with some help from Billy, she becomes a success. Peggy is signed with a studio where she can become a more dramatic actor, and she separates herself from Billy. She becomes conceded and ends up losing her fans. Just as she is about to marry her stuff co-star, Billy comes in and rescues her reminding her of who she really is.
There were several great cameos in this film, look for John Gilbert, Charlie Chaplin, Luella Parsons, Mae Murray, Leatrice Joy, Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies, William S. Hart, and Norma Talmadge.
William Randolph Heart was rumored to not have liked Davies in comedies and didn’t want her to make this film worrying it would damage her career and reputation. He was said to have tried to cancel this film before it went into production.
I love this movie because it showcases Marion Davies’s comedic talents and Billy Haines is so charming and wonderful as well. I absolutely love this movie so much, obviously, I missed half of Girls About Town for it, and I had seen it several times before!
Brian had ducked out early to get to Big Lebowski at Grauman’s because that was what he was looking most forward to at the festival.
During the film, the fire alarms went off. Because the Egyptian Theatre shows nitrate films, they take those alarms so seriously. I was seated in the balcony, so a lot of us evacuated and went outside. As we made it outside the ushers told us we could head back in. Some went back in, some left. I decided to go ahead and head on up to Grauman’s and get in line for Lebowski. I wasn’t sure when they would get the film going again and I wasn’t going to then risk being late for Lebowski, which I knew would be a big-ticket event.
As I ran down a very packed Hollywood Boulevard my beloved popcorn purse strap snapped and all of my belongings went all over the ground.
I was at Hollywood and Highland in front of a man holding a giant snake, a street performer who was break dancing, those people cooking those fantastic smelling hot dogs with peppers and onions (that Brian and my sister refuse to let me eat) and a million people walking and nobody helped me pick one thing up. I guess that’s good? I have never moved faster in my life though to scramble to pick up all of my stuff. I carried my bag up to the line for the Big Lebowski and grabbed my number. The line ran along next to the line for the NYSNC Dirty Pop Up Shop, so it was a bit confusing. There were people everywhere. I was pretty far back, but Brian was in the top 100, and he was going to try to save me a seat and a white Russian that I felt I so deserved after that trek down Hollywood Boulevard.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

TCMFF 2018-The second most fun screening I've been to.

Day two, Friday, April 27
The thing about the TCM Film Festival is every year I go with a set schedule and every year it goes right out the window as soon as I step foot in Hollywood. On this particular day my schedule plan was to see Intruder in the Dust (1949); The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944); Harold Lloyd in 3D; The Odd Couple (1968); attend the Roaring Twenties party poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, then attend the screening; The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962).
It was a packed schedule, but I wanted to cram in as much as I could into the festival. The moment we woke up things changed. I was starving and tired. I was still battling my cold and didn’t feel ‘up to snuff.’ So we decided to walk down to Mel’s Diner for breakfast and go over our schedule. Listen I know that some people don’t like Mel’s I do. I happen to really love Mel’s. I love their latte’s, I love their avocado toast with poached eggs, and I love their mac and cheese. I just love a greasy diner meal, and I can’t get avocado toast anywhere near where I live, and I happen to adore theirs the most. There I said it.
We decided that we would just go with the flow and see what happened. The only movie on the list for the day that was a must for me was The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. My sister actually introduced me to this film years ago, and I knew I really enjoyed it, but I hadn’t seen it in so long that I knew I wanted to see it again on the big screen. Brian hadn’t seen it, and I knew he would love it.
Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)
Trudy Kockenlocker played by (Betty Hutton) is a sweet small-town girl who wakes up one morning after a farewell party for the soldiers married. Not remembering anything front the night before she doesn’t know who she is married to or what his name is, "it had a z in it. Like Ratzkywatzky… or was it Zitzkywitzky?" She learns she is pregnant and asks the local boy, Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) who also happens to be in love with her to marry her and help ‘fix’ the situation. Before they can get married Norval is arrested and finds himself on the run from the law.
I won't reveal how this film ends because I really want to encourage you to see it if possible. Watching it in a packed theater was one of the most fun screenings I had been to, actually, it was the best one I had been to since Roar in 2016. Everyone cheered and laughed throughout the film and erupted in applause at the end. Miracle ended up being my favorite screening of the entire 2018 festival.
How to Marry a Millionaire
The next film we chose to see was How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) starring Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe. Schatze Page (Bacall), Loco Dempsey (Grable) and Pola DeBevoise (Monroe) play three women who plan to use an apartment in New York City to attract wealthy men to marry them. Schatze meets Tom Brookman after he carries some groceries to their apartment for Loco and brushes him off as some poor ‘gas pump jockey.’ Loco meets Eden Salem who she thinks is a wealthy landowner, but it turns out he is a forest ranger and not rich. She falls in love with him anyway not caring about his financial situation. Pola, who is can’t see and won't wear her glasses in the company of men, "Men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses," falls for an Arab oil tycoon. She is going to meet him in Atlantic City but boards the wrong plane and ends up meeting and falling in love with the man who owns the apartment the women are renting, who is also on the run from the IRS. Schatze dates J.D. Hanley (William Powell) a wealthy oil tycoon from Texas for a while until he decides to return to Texas. During this time Schatze starts seeing Tom and falls in love with him. Hanley returns to town, and he and Schatze decide to get married, but she calls it off because she is in love with Tom. The film ends with the three couples discussing their financial woes and Schatze asking Tom about his finances, to which he replies he is worth about $200 million. After pulling out a $1,000 bill to pay the check the women faint dead away and Tom proposes a toast to their wives.
I have always loved this film. I think that Monroe is not credited enough for her comedic talent, especially in this movie. She delivers lines that make me laugh out loud. The colors were beautiful, and the iconic shots of New York City were incredible. I probably should have attended a screening of a film that I haven’t seen 30 times, but I couldn’t pass up seeing this one with an audience and on the big screen. I don’t regret my decision.
Honestly this year I was just off. I was coming off the flu and just couldn’t handle the grind as I have in years past. I needed a break and food. So we walked down the street to Micelli’s. The previous year we had visited the small Italian restaurant and loved it so much we managed to squeeze in a few visits during our short trip. This time, however, we were extremely disappointed. The food was awful. I don’t know what the issue was, but both of our meals were so bad we couldn’t finish them.
I Take This Woman
We made it back to theatre four in time for I Take This Woman (1931). Illeana Douglas was set to introduce the film and unfortunately she started to intro the (1940) version starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr. It was a few minutes before someone finally yelled out and let her know that we were actually seeing a different version. Poor, Illeana. A rich, New York girl (Carole Lombard) falls for and marries a cowboy (Gary Cooper). Her father disinherits her, so she has to try to make it as a poor wife in a small farmhouse with no money. She decides to go home and divorce her husband, but then changes her mind and tries to win her husband back.
I tend to love everything that Carole Lombard is in, but this one was a rare miss for me. I was glad I took a chance on it and don’t regret my decision, but It just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t find Lombard or Cooper’s character’s all that likable. They were alright, but I not really as endearing as other characters they have played before. The film itself just felt like it went on a little too long and it only clocked in at an hour and twelve minutes.
Again I was just not feeling well, and Brian was tired, so we opted to skip the rest of the night's films and see if anything was going on at Club TCM. We walked over to the Hollywood Roosevelt and chatted with a few of our pals before we went back to Jimya Ramen and sat out with our food and people watched over Hollywood Boulevard for a while.
I know a lot of people don’t like Hollywood, and I usually don’t necessarily love it, but sometimes after being here where I live where its so quiet sitting and seeing the people and hearing the commotion is nice. I kind of like having that time to sit and watch it all and take it all in. I need that stimulation and getting it once a year on the streets of Hollywood is nice. It was good to take an hour or so and sit above it all and let the cool breeze hit us in the face and watch it all with the skyline of LA in the background.
We turned in early that night because the next day there wasn’t one film I wanted to miss.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

TCMFF 2018 Red Carpet Arrivals and Opening Night

Attending the red carpet arrivals during the TCM Film Festival has been something I have done every year. Each year has been different, but great. 
The first year I attended with Angie of The Hollywood Revue and JP of Comet over Hollywood. I don’t recall if we waited in line all that long, but we had great seats that year and in three years of attending TCM red carpet events I can say that first year was the best I have attended. Sidenote: Sean Cameron should emcee everything TCM does. 
The second-year Brian attended with Angie and me, and we stood in line for nearly an hour and a half, and we had front row seats. This year we stood in line for a little under an hour. It was warm in the sun, but not as bad as the year before. I had yet to eat at my favorite place, Jinya Ramen, so I ran to get some food to tide me over as we stood in line. I sat on the dirty Hollywood Boulevard curb and inhaled my first ramen meal of the festival. It was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be.
The first two years the bleachers where we sat were at the end of the red carpet facing east, so we had a view of the entire length of the red carpet as the talent walked toward us and did their interviews with the media. This year was much different as they had us placed directly in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater facing north, where we only saw the stars as they curved to make their entrance into the theater from the right side. Arriving from the left side were the TCM Spotlight pass holders who walked the red carpet.
It was kind of fun to have a different vantage point. This year we were treated to some fun stuff as red carpet spectators.
Mel Brooks, a personal favorite of mine walked the red carpet because his film The Producers was the opening night film. Brooks wasn’t able to attend any other events during the festival because he had a show in Vegas.
Paul Sorvino walked the red carpet and stopped near us to sing opera; Dennis Miller, of Saturday Night Live and countless other things, came into the crowd to shake all of our hands. He also told us how TCM is his escape from the real world and told us how much he missed Robert Osborne. It was a touching moment.
Others who walked the carpet were, Cora Sue Collins, The Unexpected Father (1932), Smilin’ Through (1932) Anna Karenina (1935) and Treasure Island (1934); Dana Delany, China Beach and Desperate Housewives; Kate Flannery, The Office; Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff; Ruta Lee, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Witness for the Proseution (1957) and Funny Face (1957);  Leonard Maltin; Ben Mankiewicz; Wyatt McCrea, the oldest grandchild of Joel McCrea; Eva Marie Saint, North by Northwest (1959), A Hatful Rain (1957) and On the Waterfront (1954); Eddie Muller; Melvin Van Peebles, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (1971); Mario Van Peebles, Redemption Road (2010); Cicely Tyson, Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Sounder (1972); Norman Lloyd, Saboteur (1942) and Spellbound (1945) and the star of the night, Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese was due to receive the first annual Robert Osborne Award. It was to be presented by Leonardo DiCaprio, who sadly didn’t walk the red carpet.  
In March 2018, Turner Classic Movies announced the establishment of the Robert Osborne Award, to be presented at the Festival “to an individual whose work has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic films alive and thriving for generations to come.”
The award was presented by actor Leonardo DiCaprio who is a frequent collaborator with Scorsese. During his introduction, DiCaprio discussed Scorsese’s Film Foundation, founded in 1990, which has emphasizes the importance of film preservation.  “The impact of Marty’s passion and his dedication to cinema is absolutely immeasurable,” DiCaprio said.
During Scorsese’s speech, he talked about the importance of educating younger generations on the value of knowing the history of a film. During his speech, Scorsese referred many times to cinema’s place as the art form of the past 100 years. He praised the late Robert Osborne saying some historians make you feel like movies are over your head and others who look back with a mix of irony and nostalgia. However, as Scorsese emphasized, Osborne “understood the value of cinema, and that movies are always under threat.”
Some of Scorsese’s most notable work includes: Taxi Driver, Cape Fear, Goodfellas and The Departed.
The theme of this years festival was “Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen.”
Newspapers seemed to be a reoccurring theme for the festival this year with several films highlighting the power of the press through the written word. Movies included in that category were His Girl Friday (1940); Blessed Event (1932); The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944); Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939); and Woman of the Year (1942). Each film dealt with newspapers or the storyline directly affected by someone working in the newspaper field.
After the red carpet, Brian, Angie and I walked down to Pig ‘N’ Whistle for dinner. The first block of movies had started, and we had time to kill before the next block of films began. After dinner, Brian and I went to get in line for Stage Door a personal favorite of mine. I was thrilled to be seeing one of my favorites on nitrate at the famed Egyptian Theater.
The film was beautiful and every bit as amazing as I had hoped. It was the perfect way to kick off the first night of the film festival.

Friday, September 28, 2018

TCMFF 2018 Sidebar-Turner scripted shows are not to be ignored

About the red carpet.
Before we get into the Mel Brooks of it all can I start by saying that if you are not watching the shows that Turner networks are producing, then you are missing out. I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Turner (TBS) original shows.
In 2006 TBS first aired one of my all-time favorite shows, My Boys. The show revolves around sportswriter PJ Franklin who is searching for love with the help of her closest friends, her ‘boys,’ if you will. She isn’t super feminine and relates more to the men in her world than women. (I relate to it on so many levels.) The show lasted four seasons and is indeed a gem. Please purchase it on DVD immediately. The writing is fantastic, the assembled cast is perfect, the show is just butter. PJ Franklin (Jordana Spiro) is and was everything I want to be in my life and career and who wouldn’t love to be surrounded by good-looking and funny men like Reid Scott, Michael Bunin, Jamie Kaler, and Kyle Howard? I mean come on TBS. One of the greatest crimes Turner has ever committed was canceling that show. It still stings when I think about it.
Years later TBS started to pick up their game again with programs like The Detour, Angie Tribeca, People of Earth, Search Party and Wrecked. Listen I'm a TV junkie, and I like my sitcoms, but I am picky about what I watch. I have limited time in my day, and if I'm going to spend it on any time of film or television, it better be funny and smart. TCM, Turner, TruTV, TBS, none of these people pay me to say that, and I love every single one of these shows.
Imagine my delight when the first year I attended the TCM Film Festival they had three stars of the television show Wrecked walk the red carpet. It was great exposure and fun for someone like me who genuinely loves that show.
The second-year I don’t recall seeing anyone but this year guys. Hold on to your damn hats because this year my queen walked the red carpet.
I have been a significant fan of Andrea Savage for 14 years. Before Step Brothers, before Dinner for Schmucks, VEEP and Party Down, Bravo aired a little show called Significant Others. Before Bravo was all Andy Cohen and Housewives it was an actual network that had other shows in rotation. Significant Others came in with little warning, but I was hooked. I love this show so much that I actually took to VHS tapes and taped all the episodes, and I still have them all on VHS and watch them to this day. The show followed four couples in and out of therapy. Savage is hilarious in this show, and from then on I was a fan. I think she is one of the absolute funniest women out there. I was elated when she landed a show on TruTV.
I’m Sorry is about a comedy writer (Savage) who is balancing her work life and motherhood, but this show isn’t some old school goody-goody motherhood work stuff. For me, it’s a more realistic look at life. The show is one of the funniest on television right now and is incredibly relatable. Show creator, Savage plays it is a little immature and neurotic and blunt, like me. The way she plays a mother and wife on the show is closer to how I am as a mom and wife than any other representation on television. I dig that. Tom Everett Scott plays her husband, and the always incredible Jason Mantzoukas plays her writing partner. Judy Greer also has a recurring role, and Nick Kroll has popped in. I also want to shout out that besides Savage writing on the show, some other hilarious women write episodes as well, like Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider. This show is indeed a who’s who of comedic genius.
Cut to the red carpet at the TCM Film Festival this year and who comes strolling down, but Ms. Andrea Savage and Mr. Tom Everett Scott. The 13-year-old in me was going bananas that Shades from That Thing You Do was gliding by as if it were nothing and the 34-year-old in me was going bananas that one of the funniest women on the planet was passing by me as if it were nothing. So I did what any normal human would do. I ignored Tom Everett Scott and yelled ‘Andrea’ at the top of my lungs and waved at her. Like any sane person would do. Women support women. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I would do it over again.
Thank you, TCM for recognizing Turner network’s original scripted shows and throwing them into the mix. They don’t go unnoticed.
Now TCM, please bring back My Boys and let the Impractical Jokers host a Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton event next year. Brian Quinn is a fan. Please think about it.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Batman '66' Exhibit

The first official day of the Turner Classic Film Festival was well underway as we woke up bright and early the next morning. We could already hear our fellow classic film friends stirring in the hall and down in the breakfast area as we pulled ourselves together to head out for breakfast. We joined Lauren and Roger again, but this time for brunch at Brite Spot.
We were excited to make it to another part of LA that we hadn’t seen and try to eat breakfast somewhere that wasn’t Mel’s Diner (a place I happen to actually love) or Starbucks. The atmosphere was perfect, the coffee was exactly what I needed and the food, oh so good. I had the Southern Decadence, which was a Biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, sausage gravy, and an egg. It was incredible, and I loved it. It’s so hard to beat delicious diner food, and this place excelled in great diner food. It was just enough to get me through the busy day ahead and into the late dinner we had planned with Angie later.
We went back to our hotel and went our separate ways. Brian and Roger went for a hike up Runyon Canyon, Lauren went to get ready to walk the TCMFF red carpet, and I went to meet up with my pal Angie from The Hollywood Revue, to catch up and take in the Batman exhibit at the Hollywood Museum.
The Batman ‘66’ exhibit opened in January and I was extremely nervous it would close before we got there to see it. I have always loved Adam West as a person and as Batman, but when he came to the TCM Film Festival in 2016 to introduce Batman the Movie, I was smitten. The interview was incredible, and he was hilarious. I knew if the exhibit was still open I needed to make time before the festival to see it.
The exhibit featured original props and costumes from the show including the Riddler, Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Batman and Robin's costumes. Life-size sculptures of Catwoman, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, and Julie Newmar. Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl costume, Adam West’s face and mannequin from life-cast molds (slightly creepy), action figures, puppets, toys, and the Batmobile.
Yes, there was shark repellent bat spray, and yes, it was as awesome as you would imagine. I devoured every moment of the exhibit. It was an impressive collection of memorabilia that I could have sat and examined for hours.
After the museum, Angie and I made our way back to the hotel to freshen up for the red carpet. We didn’t have the pass that allowed us to walk the red carpet, but we could catch the arrivals. This year’s red carpet was incredible, so it will require a post of its own.
To be continued.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Finally discovering Los Angeles

This year’s TCMFF was unlike any others I had attended. This year Brian and I opted to spend a few more days in Los Angeles exploring the area outside of Hollywood and Highland.
We decided to make this year more of a vacation and spend a few more days in L.A. because I had changed positions at my job and didn’t know if we would be able to attend the festival in 2019. So we decided to go all out in 2018.
We flew in the Wednesday before the festival. Our tradition is to meet up with our pal Angie and have lunch at 25 Degrees at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, but this year we changed it up a bit. Instead of spending the day at our usual haunts along Hollywood Boulevard we made plans with our pal Lauren to spend the day anywhere else. We dropped off luggage our at the hotel and met Lauren at the Roosevelt to start our adventure. Lauren, a native of Southern California, had insisted for the last year that we get ourselves out of the Hollywood area.
When I first started going to Hollywood/Los Angeles, I hated it. I thought it was dirty, busy, loud and not the California that I had dreamed of for so long. Sure I loved that I wasn’t in the Midwest and I was in a new place, but it wasn’t the Malibu Sands Beach Club that I was promised as a child. The drive from LAX to the heart of Hollywood on my first trip was so depressing. I saw more oil derricks and fewer palm trees. What fresh hell was this? For two years I stepped off a plane, onto a shuttle, stepped out onto a dirty curb on Hollywood Boulevard where I spent five days until I stepped back into a shuttle and onto an airplane. That was the Los Angeles and California that I knew and Lauren wasn’t having any of it.
Months had been spent on the phone discussing where we would go and what we would eat. The one place I really wanted to go more than any other was the beach. I had seen the Gulf and the Atlantic, but I wanted to see the Pacific. I have always loved the ocean so much, and I was dying to see it on at least once on a trip to California, but I didn’t want to force everyone to drive an hour or more to Santa Monica just so I could see the ocean.
Lauren is incredible and must have sensed my desperation because after our happy reunion we were off to have lunch Oceanside in Santa Monica.
There are so many things I have forgotten over the years, but what I felt when I finally saw what I thought California should look like, that’s something I’ll never forget.
After some photos, dipping my toes in the water and putting my feet in the warm sand, we walked over to The Back on the Beach CafĂ© for lunch. We sat outside where we had a fantastic view of the ocean and the Marion Davies Beach House. I’ll talk in later posts about Davies’ film ‘Show People,’ but, Davies is one of my favorite silent film actresses and favorite female comediennes, so having the added bonus of visiting her beach house was mind-blowing.
As much as I wanted to order a Marion Davies salad, I couldn’t do it. I went with the grilled Caprese sandwich. Honestly, I think I was just too excited to think about eating which says a lot about the day.
After our lunch, we went to explore Marion Davies’ old beach house, now the Annenberg Community Beach House.
The Annenberg Community Beach House sits along the Pacific Coast Highway and was built by William Randolph Heart in the 1920s for Marion Davies. The estate featured 100-plus rooms and the most gorgeous swimming pool I have ever seen. They hosted parties with such guests as Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Louie B. Mayer. The property was sold to the state of California in 1959, where it operated as the Sand and Sea Club until 1994 when it was severely damaged by an earthquake.
The Annenberg Foundation provided a $27.5 million grant that allowed the estate to be restored. The site was reopened as the Annenberg Community Beach House in April of 2009. The Marion Davies Guest House holds special events from time to time and tours.
We peeked through the windows, took in all the views and posed for some photos before we headed off to our next destination.
Driving up part of the PCH was precisely what I needed to get right with California. I fell hard that afternoon for the California I was finally being introduced to. It was worlds away from Hollywood and what I had thought of the West Coast for two years. The air was crisp, and the views were spectacular. This was finally a California I could get on board with.
We made our way back to our hotels where we made plans for the night. Our friend Roger was going to join us for dinner in Beverly Hills and dancing in WeHo. Unfortunately a few days before we left I had gotten very sick and was still trying to recover. My taste buds were off, I was battling a fever, fatigue, a stuffy nose, and a deep cough. I planned to just go ahead and take some DayQuil and power through.
Back in September (2017) I had bought a beautiful black caftan to wear on this trip. I had never owned or wore a caftan before, but I found this simple black vintage number with a blue and pink sash and fell in love. It was perfect for dinner at La Scala where I inhaled Mozzarella Marinara, Spaghetti Bolognese and Crab Cakes. It was every bit as incredible as I had imagined. After dinner, we hit up The Abbey for a drink, and I believe we went to Mickey’s after that, but to be honest, I was done.
I was running on a couple hours of sleep a bit of jet lag and the back end of the flu. I was miserable and still had a few days ahead of me. I had to call it a night.
We got a Lyft back to our hotel and prepared for the official start of the TCM Film Festival the next day.

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