Tag Archives: movies

Picture Paris…

Our good friends Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have made a wonderful short film that will make its debut this weekend at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“Picture Paris” will be shown on Saturday, January 28th at 7:40 pm and Monday, January 30th at 10:10 pm. To watch the trailer, click here.

Click here for tickets.

In “Picture Paris”, Julia plays Ellen Larson, a Southern California suburban mom with an empty nest and a longing for the City of Lights. I won’t give away anything else, except that the film – written and directed by Brad – is shot beautifully, the ensemble acting is pitch perfect, and Julia is better than ever. The music is another great character in the film – and Steve (another good friend) Rashid wrote the original score.

It must also be noted that Mr. Hall took meticulous care to get all the details right – on both sides of the pond. Not only do the locations and street scenes in Paris capture the spirit and romance of that grand European capital – exacting attention was also paid to Ellen’s house in Southern California. In fact, after a vast and exhausting search to find the perfect suburban home, Brad and Julia used our house in Woodland Hills. They shot for a week at our domicile this past June while Victoria and I were in Chicago doing “The Vic & Paul Show” at the Prop Theatre with Steve (there’s that name again) Rashid.

See “Picture Paris” soon, if you can. If you can’t get to Santa Barbara next weekend – hopefully Brad & Julia’s charming, funny (and surprising) opus will soon be coming to a film festival near you. Meanwhile, check out the “Picture Paris” blog here.  Adieu, mon ami!

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Filed under Art, Beauty, Comedy

“Now, Voyager” Revised

My wife is a huge Bette Davis fan and years ago she introduced me to one of Bette’s best films: Now, Voyager.

Based on the popular romantic novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, Now, Voyager was released in 1942. Mega-star Bette Davis was Oscar-nominated for her performance in the film, which was selected in 2007 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. Like all the great movies accorded that honor, Now, Voyager was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now Voyager may be a timeless classic – but there’s one central aspect of the film that has not aged very well: all that smoking.

Of course, until the last 20 years or so, everybody smoked in the movies – and in the 40’s and 50’s, cigarette smoke filled nearly every romantic drama, gangster movie, western and film noir frame. But Now, Voyager made smoking a central character.

In the film’s signature moment, Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes in his mouth at the same time and hands one to Bette. Henreid’s ultra-romantic two-cigarette move was first used ten years earlier in the film, The Rich Are Always With Us – but when Paul Henreid did it in Now, Voyager — it caused a sensation. For years afterward, Henreid couldn’t go anywhere without women begging him to pop two cigarettes in his mouth and fire them up.

Back then — unlike Bette and Paul’s relatively chaste and unrequited lovers — Hollywood and the cigarette companies were in bed together. Check out this fine article for some eye-opening details on this unhealthy alliance, including Bette’s contract with Lucky Strikes – and Paul Henreid’s own radio promotion, using his role in Now, Voyager to flog cigarettes.

68 years later, Now, Voyager’s smoky and sensual signature bit of dramatic business just wouldn’t fly in today’s more health conscious, socially and politically correct Hollywood.

So, while we were working on “The Vic & Paul Show” early this year, we asked ourselves, “What would happen if Now Voyager was re-made in 2010?”

Here’s our answer to that question, performed puff by puff at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills in June 2010.

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Filed under Art, History

Date Night Decision

Rarely does one weekend provide such a dramatic cinematic dichotomy: the ultimate guy movie vs. the classic chick flick.

I’m an unabashed Sylvester Stallone fan. From ”Rocky” to “Cop Land” to “Rocky Balboa”, I’ve enjoyed watching Stallone on the big screen: a macho not-all-that-guilty pleasure. So, as the weekend approached, and the big Friday 13th movie premieres loomed, my choice was easy. I suggested to my wife Victoria that we go see Stallone’s latest action opus “The Expendables” – and she agreed.

I wasn’t sure that Victoria was truly prepared for the level of sense-surround mayhem and bloodshed she might witness, but she knew “The Expendables” was a guy thing – and an older guy thing at that. For a 52-year old gym rat like me, the opportunity to sit in the dark next to my hot wife, eating popcorn and watching Stallone and his mercenary buddies kick butt and crack wise, constituted the perfect date night.

Then, this morning, as I stepped out of the shower, my wife presented me with a new idea.

“What do you think,” she asked, “about seeing ‘Eat Pray Love’ instead?”

It was almost too much to wrap my soggy head around. “The Expendables” vs. “Eat Pray Love”. What’s a guy to do?

It was obvious that my darling wife would prefer the gauzy, romantic, introspective Julia Roberts vehicle to watching Sly and the boys wreak havoc on a fictional South American island. And at such a moment the less experienced, less mature husband or boyfriend might have been in a quandary. But I held firm, secure in the knowledge that my marriage was strong enough to withstand my choice of a potentially corny comic-book action yarn over the filmed adaptation of a romantic, best-selling, Oprah Book Club-selected memoir of one woman’s search for self.

Luckily for me, Victoria is one of only six or seven women in the U.S. who has not read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. So, it was relatively easy for me to make a quick deal with my entirely reasonable wife. We agreed to see “The Expendables” tonight (Friday the 13th) and catch a weekend matinee of “Eat Pray Love”. Having had my testosterone level sufficiently pumped up by Stallone’s high-explosive heroics, I could withstand the mellowing, sensitive and emotional travails of Julia Roberts on a round-the-world journey of self-discovery after a bitter divorce.

Tonight, as we wait in line for the opening of Stallone’s summer blockbuster, it will be interesting to see the group lining up for the other blockbuster, “Eat Pray Love”.

How many men in the “Eat Pray Love” line will be looking over at guys like me with a hangdog, wish-I-was-you look? And how will the women in line for “The Expendables” differ from those in the queue for Julia Roberts?

Which couples will look like either “The Expendables” or “Eat Pray Love” was their one and only possible choice between the two films? And how many other couples will look like they might have made the same deal that Victoria and I made?

The people-watching might be as fun as the film.

As for the under-30 crowd, there’s no choice to be made. They won’t be in either of those two lines.

They’ll be with their dates waiting to see that other summer blockbuster: the one starring the completely anti-Stallone movie hero, Michael Cera, and a non-Julia Roberts-type heroine named Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

“Scott Pilgrim Saves the World”.

And that is as it should be.

Definitely not Sly Stallone and Julia Roberts.

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Filed under Art, Random Commentary