Film & TV

The Surprisingly Good Movies
Of Spring 2013


Mud Movie Poster

I love movies, sometimes I write them, but my first love wasn’t movies it was books, and lately I’ve turned my attentions there, having discovered the joys of writing prose.

I read early, at age 3 — at the eight grade level, or so the story goes, though I remember reading The Little Engine That Could (kindergarten level, I believe), and having a whole world open up to me. It is the genius of children’s literature that it says so much about the journey that lies ahead. The Little Engine That Could taught me boundless possibility, Where The Wild Things Are put me in touch as it did with the absolute validity of my own wild and untamable nature, And Oh, The Places You’ll Go?, which I read as an adult, taught me the most fundamental lessons about navigating the narrative arc of a life. Hats off to Dr. Seuss, who also penned this indispensible little dittie: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”

But enough about Seuss, and enough about books. This post is about film, my second but no less beloved child.

I fell in love with film in my mid-twenties when I started writing screenplays. I came at it through an interesting doorway, having realized that the legal career I’d set in motion wasn’t right for me. After several long walks and some jottings in my journal, I heard a clear, strong voice, voice of God, if you will, say “you will write for film.” I obeyed. First the conversion, then the understanding.


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We Hate Girls So Much
We Can’t Stop Watching


Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the last two episodes of Girls, you may want to see them before you read this post.

I like Lena Dunham. I liked her feature Tiny Furniture. I like (make that love) that after the major publishing houses duked it out in a bidding war amongst themselves, she sold her book of yet to be written for a whopping 3.7 Million dollars. And I love that she bagged her Grammy winning boyfriend while being shamelessly, unabashedly, “you might be over-sharing a bit” zaftig. Oh, and did I mention that she’s all of 26?

But Girls, the show Dunham created, stars in and helps executive produce? I hate it, the way you hate a train wreck you  can’t look away from — which may explain why I’ve seen every single episode, even though, in the immortal words of my absolute favorite person, they make me want to “barf up.” That is, until last week, when Girls turned the corner into something resembling truly great television. Don’t get me wrong. It was still depressing as all get out. But this time it was depressing in the service of a higher good, namely, the hope that, if you face your hard truths, your life might turn out truly good. 


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The Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2013

Rashida Jones at VF Oscar Party 2013

 The paparazzi take aim at Rashida Jones. 

Naomi Watts & Liev Schreiber at VF Oscar Party 2013

Best Actress Nominee Naomi Watts and her actor/writer/director husband Liev Schreiber.

I’m pretty certain, even though I’ve never been, that the Vanity Fair Oscar Party is the event of Hollywood awards season. It’s the one ticket, other than front section seats at the Academy Awards, that I’d most like to score. The Vanity Fair party is the ultimate insider’s get, with the brightest lights of film, fashion, art and music gathering for a party that always looks, from the outside, like a gathering of new and old friends.

Hollywood is a tough town that chews and spits out the best of them. Ben Affleck’s Best Picture acceptance speech was so moving precisely because he has suffered the slings and arrows of a fickle, unforgiving business, and come out on top, as George Clooney has noted, by directing his way out of an acting slump. It was a smart move, and proof positive that there are too second acts (and even third ones), even in Hollywood.

To everyone who celebrated a second or third act on Sunday night, we take our hats off to you, and thank you for the inspiration to persevere. And to all you beautiful insiders, you look like a million bucks.


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The Beautiful Moments Of
Oscar 2013

2013 Oscars

The Academy Awards were yesterday and I was glued to my TV screen like a crackhead fixed on crack. I’m addicted to award season, to the camaraderie, the unapologetic display of creativity over profits only, the Cinderella at the ball rise from obscurity (or the Hollywood “working classes”) that happens each year (think Jessica Chastain last year or Jennifer Lawrence the year before. Both women have catapulted to super-stardom in the milliseconds since and both were nominated this year for a Best Actress Academy Award, with Lawrence bringing home the Oscar Gold). This year’s Cinderella moments belong to the writers and directors, most notably Chris Terrio, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Argo, but also director Behn Zeitlin, his co-writer Lucy Alibar, and his star Quvenzhané Wallis, who went from obscurity this time last year to suddenly being on everyone’s lips.


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Arguing Torture &
Zero Dark Thirty

With The New Yorker’s
Amy Davidson


Chastain In Zero Dark Thirty


Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty was one of the most accomplished films of 2012, which is why the excoriating moral critique of Bigelow’s film, from the New Yorker’s Amy Davidson, was such a compelling read. I was one among the many who were floored last week when Bigelow was passed over for a Best Director Academy Award nomination, along with Ben Affleck, who deserved a nod for Argo that he did not receive (though he won both the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Awards for his direction of that film). Davidson was not surprised — or, at least, not disappointed. For Davidson, Bigelow’s masterpiece is a moral, and therefore directorial, failure, a supposition I couldn’t disagree with more — which is why I put together this piece on Arguing Torture and Zero Dark Thirty with Amy Davidson, even if she isn’t arguing back.


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