Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Kay Kendall!

Happy Anniversary, Kay Kendall (1927 - 1959)

Actress Kay Kendall photographed by Virgil Apger, 1950s

Kay Kendall died young. She was at the height of her fame, but she had leukaemia. Her screen persona was a curious mixture of fifties poise and glamour and a throw-back to thirties screwball heroines. Born in a showbiz family, she was dancing in the chorus at the Palladium by the time she was 12. She got a few bit parts and then got a big role in a major event movie, "London Town". Unfortunately this expensive debut film for comedian Sid Field was one of the biggest flops in British cinema history.

Kay Kendall as Rosalind Peters in "Genevieve" (1953) directed by Henry Cornelius

Her performance in "It Started In Paradise" got her a contract at Rank, and her first film there was the mega-hit "Genevieve". After a teeny part in another mega-hit "Doctor in the House" she became one of Rex Harrison's wives in the bigamy comedy The Constant Husband. There then followed a dispute about the quality of scripts offered to her by Rank and her contract was suspended.

Kay Kendall, Gene Kelly, Taina Elg and Mitzi Gaynor in "Les Girls" (1957) directed by George Cukor

In 1958, Kay Kendall won a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Lady Sybil Wren in Les Girls – probably one of the best-known films of her career – the story of three showgirls in postwar Paris (the other actresses were Mitzi Gaynor and Taina Elg).

"Kay Kendall was petrified at the thought of having to sing and dance and was, initially, promised she would not have to do either. As it turned out, she had two numbers in the film, one with Gene Kelly and one with the two other girls. 'She came to me in a state of shock', said Jack Cole, 'and she was ready to quit when she heard she'd have to do a number with Gene. The result was that whenever she was on the screen, you couldn't take your eyes off her. And she was right. She couldn't dance. But in the 'Ladies in Waiting' routine, her presence was so stunning she took the number clean away from Mitzi Gaynor and Taina Elg -neither of whom had her star quality which, in this business, is all that counts". -"Gene Kelly: A biography" (1974) by Clive Hirschhorn

Kay Kendall married Rex Harrison in 1957 and tried to keep working but it was difficult and Rank had started to sue for breach of contract when she passed on. She left behind a memory of a truly beautiful person.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick in "End of Watch" (2012), Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Hysteria"

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick in "End of Watch" (2012) directed by David Ayer (Trailer screencaps)

Signed talk story about a conversation with Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Both brother and sister have recently appeared in a series of films in the role of the depressed misfit. Maggie just finished filming her first leading role, as a depressed misfit in the movie “Secretary,” a romantic comedy about sadomasochism. Later, when trying to explain why directors always ask them to play depressed misfits, the two blamed it on their “sad eyes.” Source:

Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Hysteria" (2011) directed by Tanya Wexler

The good news about Hysteria is that Gyllenhall’s performance is rich, earthy fun—she’s both fervid and utterly charming, somehow managing to play the character’s contemporary leanings without making it a distractingly contemporary performance. The unfortunate news is that it is very much a supporting role in a film preoccupied with other matters—and matters which don’t intersect with her story in a particularly satisfying way. Source:

"Hysteria" -Bicycle accident clip- starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy. A romantic comedy based on the truth of how Mortimer Granville devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science.

The amusing images of early vibrators employed as accompaniment for the end credit crawl raise one bothersome question, though; would this material have played stronger in documentary form? Maybe--and maybe not, considering that would've deprived us a singularly wonderful Maggie Gyllenhaal performance. Source:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Movie Review: "God Bless America"

"You kill yourself, Frank, and you're killing the wrong person, which would be a shame when there are so many other Chloes out there who need to die." -God Bless America

Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (a former stand-up comedian), whose debut behind the camera was "Shakes the Clown" (1991) about an alcoholic clown, has presented his latest directorial effort "God Bless America" (2011), screened first at the TIFF and the SXSW Film Festival. It's now on limited theatrical release in USA. After "World's Greatest Dad" (2009), starring Robin Williams as a high scool teacher who uses his son's death to gain fame, Goldthwait has consolidated his name as one of the most promising 'dark comedy' directors, in the same league as Terry Zwigoff, Todd Solondz and Alexander Payne. Another blunt example of his skills as sardonic social commentator is shown clearly in "God Bless America", which Goldthwait calls "a violent movie about kindness," starring Joel Murray ("Mad Men", "Dharma and Greg") and newcomer Tara Lynne Barr (who played Sunshine Girl in the horror short "Road Kill" in 2005).

Frank (Joel Murray) is a resented divorcée whose life is patently miserable due to frequent migraines and a drone work in an office cubicle, besides an antagonized relationship with ex-wife Alison (Melinda Page Hamilton, who starred in "Sleeping Dogs Lie" directed by Goldthwait in 2006) and spoiled daughter Ava (Mackenzie Brooke Smith). The icing of the cake is when Frank (an insomniac who puts up with impolite neighbours and their screaming baby) gets fired from his job after being accused by a female receptionist -whom he's just lent the parody novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"- of harassment. Almost immediately, he also discovers he suffers from an inoperable brain tumor.

Finding himself trapped in an existential dead end, Frank is prepared to commit suicide while he's surfing through reality TV shows. He's horrified as he contemplates teenage tyrant Chloe (Maddie Hasson) on-screen, whom he recognizes as one of the toxic role models responsible of causing his daughter Ava's disturbed behaviour. Enraged, Frank visits next morning Chloe's school and executes the girl right away, with only a witness: a conflicted 16-year-old student named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr).

Roxy, intrigued and with a possible crush on Frank, knocks on his door at a nearby motel. She convinces him of being his 'partner-in-crime" on his mission to rid the world of all the entitled media stars and more broadly, people who are not nice. Frank reluctantly agrees to allow her to accompany him. As a pair of "platonic spree killers", they hit the road in a stolen car around the country, choosing as targets Tea Party members, the Westboro Baptist Church, Bill O'Reilly / Glenn Beck surrogates and rude people who turn on their cellulars in movie theaters.

God Bless America is a sharp, lucid satire about the pop culture decline and other unhealthy obsessions of the Western civilization, utilizing imaginative monologues as empowering weapons to awake our redoubt of decency and common sense.

Frank: "I refuse to objectify a child... I mean, that's part of what's wrong with everything. I'm not American Apparel, I'm not the creep that came up with those Bratz dolls. I mean, fuck R Kelly, fuck Vladimir Nabokov, and fuck Mary Kay Letourneau while we're at it. Fuck Woody Allen and his whole 'the heart wants what it wants' bullshit. Apparently that erudite genius’ heart wants what every run of the mill pedophile wants, a young hairless Asian. Nobody cares that they damage other people."

Frank represents a mix between the Everyman, the Overman prototype and the resilient outcast (as Howard Beale in Network or Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver) and his journey draws parallels to other films as Natural Born Killers, American Dreamz, Idiocracy, Rampage, Super, etc. Particularly, there are similarities depicting the antihero enduring intense alienation and outbursts of catastrophist speeches in the same vein that Falling Down (1993) -a film that Goldthwait considers 'terrible'-, similarities that disappear in their respective final acts, since Frank remains morally unbeatable. Roxy lying to Frank recounting her family background can remind us of another revenge fantasy flick: Freeway, starring Reese Witherspoon in 1996.

Goldthwait denies the character is literally based on him, but he partly identifies: "I guess maybe I snapped in a way, that I turned my back on the whole Hollywood system."

There is an underlying, insidious theme in God Bless America that maybe escapes the average viewer: the effects of a post-feminist environment triggering male despondency. In expounding the links between pop culture, masculinity and depression, we see how hard is for a middle-aged guy (stigmatized by a PC society) to break free from the chains of determinism. Isolation, or the varying cluster of depressive symptoms is a condition attributable to a context of undermined self-esteem.

When Franks murders Chloe, a part of him wants to kill what he identifies as the very harmful cause of his daughter's detachment. He hasn't got any girlfriend or future prospects of a stable relationship. Frank's only companion is his confidant Roxy, but as he's reiterated, she's an impossible romance. Some criticism to Diablo Cody (Roxy detests being called 'Juno') could further suggest the fear of a ubiquitousness of angsty young females that threaten to limit the modern male's scope. The word 'Feminazi' (a term popularized by talk-show host Rush Limbaugh) appears during a showdown with a famous TV host who promotes xenophobia and misogyny.

There are a lot more of thought provoking references all along the film, enhanced by Stonesiferas's tense cinematography and Matt Kollar's musical score, that culminate in a confrontation via "American Superstars" live-show, where Frank and Roxy will reunite on stage after having broken up their strange liaison and abandoned mutual plans of fleeing to France. On a related note, the French feminists Catherine Clément and Hélène Cixous in "The Newly Born Woman" (1975) decried the "dual, hierarchical oppositions" set up by the traditional patriarchal philosophy of determinateness, wherein "death is always at work" as "the premise of woman's abasement."

In defense of those who Frank considers the weakest victims affected by the mass-media's vitriol, he expresses his inconsolable disappointment in the institutions and people who have devolved into a shadow (Goldwaith thinks apathy is the worst flaw in the American character): "My name is Frank. That's not important. The important question is: who are you? America has become a cruel and vicious place. We reward the shallowest, the dumbest, the meanest and the loudest. We no longer have any common sense of decency. No sense of shame. There is no right and wrong. The worst qualities in people are looked up to and celebrated. Lying and spreading fear is fine as long as you make money doing it. We've become a nation of slogan-saying, bile-spewing hatemongers. We've lost our kindness. We've lost our soul. What have we become? We take the weakest in our society, we hold them up to be ridiculed, laughed at for our sport and entertainment. Laughed at to the point, where they would literally rather kill themselves than live with us anymore."

The leading actors give us sincere performances, and in the case of Joel Murray, he alone turns the film into a cult classic. Tara Lynne Barr, as his 'prodigal daughter,' acts hilariously cynic and tender at once. Unlike other anti-system movies, this is an especially human one, withouth exaggerations or fake tricks, exposing the manipulation without becoming manipulative, just a naked and laid bare portrait of our collective anger and disconcertment, one whose message probably won't be crude enough or offensive enough for those people hooked on cheap thrills (the same folks who are unceremoniously taken out in the film). The power ballad "I Never Cry" by Alice Cooper will linger on your memory long after the credits roll.

Frank only wants to kill people who deserve to die. Is his reasoning ("this is the 'Oh no, you didn't say that!' generation, where a shocking comment has more weight than the truth") really valid or muddled by his apparent self-loathing? The answer is not an easy one.

Article first published as Movie Review: God Bless America on Blogcritics.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Snow White and the Huntsman" new clip starring Kristen Stewart

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) New clip - Kingdom: "Faced with the End", starring Kristen Stewart

GENE KELLY documentary: "The Hollywood Greats" (2011) for BBC

GENE KELLY documentary: "The Hollywood Greats" (2001) for BBC, presented by Jonathan Ross

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Looking for Russian women

Most little girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls. Some even want to look like them. One 21-year-old has become one, or so she says. Valeria Lukyanova has become an internet sensation in her home country of Russia, claiming on her blog to be the most famed woman on the Russian-language internet. Her doll-like features, long blonde hair and ‘perfect’ body make her look like a real life Barbie.

Serious research on the subject has drawn certain conclusions. Academics from the University of South Australia suggest the likelihood of a woman having Barbie's body shape is one in 100,000. So not impossible, but extremely rare. Researchers at Finland's University Central Hospital in Helsinki say if Barbie were life size she would lack the 17 to 22% body fat required for a woman to menstruate. So again, not an unachievable figure, but certainly not a healthy one.

Back on April 18th we were one of the first people to report about "human barbie", Valeria Lukyanova, who looks so doll-like that we weren't sure if she was real or not. Now Lukyanova seems to be making quite a splash all over the news, and it turns out this 21-year-old Russian singer is quite the "hot topic".

You can't help but be fascinated by how this girl looks, and now we have some photos of the girl who claims to be the "most famous Russian woman on the Russian-language Internet" without makeup, and circle lenses. Source:

If you are looking for single Russian women, or a Russian mail bride, you can use an online Russian dating service available for men who are seeking a SRW (single Russian woman) for marriage, love or romance. you can browse through a database to match your criteria (more than 10,000 attractive Russian ladies in the women's gallery), with a rapid processing of your search profile.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"God Bless America" by Bobcat Goldthwait: a violent movie about kindness

"God Bless America" trailer, (2011) directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, starring Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr

Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, and Bobcat Goldthwait at "God Bless America" screening at the Alamo Drafthouse for SXSW 2012.

Aiding in the searing of audience to screen effect that works so well in God Bless America‘s favor is the chemistry found in its lead duo, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr. Murray plays Frank straight as an arrow. In his opening monologue, we’re introduced to his droll worldview, as personified by the hyper-annoying neighbors on the other side of his paper-thin walls.

He’s a tragic figure, but even Murray’s expressionless moments are full of life and energy that move us toward those inevitable, shocking moments of violence. Like any great tragic figure, the lights are on behind Frank’s dead, weathered eyes. The fire rages beneath a stoic disposition. If Murray were not already such a well-regarded big screen player, it would be right to say that this is a map-placing role. Put simply, Murray is exceptional.

Opposite Murray’s brilliantly calm performance is lightning in a bottle as personified by Tara Lynne Barr. To say that she’s got spunk is an understatement. And if calling her “Juno” didn’t send her into a homicidal monologue about Diablo Cody that will make even the most dedicated United States of Tara fan take up arms, it would be an apt way to describe her wit.

In press throughout this film’s tour from its premiere at Toronto last year to this re-cut premiere at SXSW, Goldthwait has at times referenced Peter Finch’s speech at the end of Network as an inspiration. With God Bless America, he’s created the feature-length manifestation of Finch’s rant. Agree or disagree with the message — which, again, is simply that the world needs kindness — it’s a magnetic film that provides 100 minutes of subversive, blood soaked fun. It’s the film that so many other directors have tried to make, but failed because they allowed the politics to get in the way. Source:

Christmas Holiday (1944) by Robert Siodmak, starring Deanna Durbin & Gene Kelly

Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly in "Christmas Holiday" (1944) directed by Robert Siodmak

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Right Cross" (1950): romantic rivalry in a boxing drama by John Sturges

"Right Cross" (1950) directed by John Sturges stars Dick Powell as cynical sportswriter Rick Gavery and Powell's wife June Allyson as boxing manager Pat O'Malley. Subbing for her incapacitated father (Lionel Barrymore), Pat grooms prizefighter Johnny Monterez (Ricardo Montalban) for the championship. Johnny holds a grudge against the world because he feels that his Mexican heritage has made him an outcast, though curiously the audience never sees any prejudice levelled against him.

Gradually, Pat falls in love with the tempestuous Monterez, while Gavery, who's always carried a torch for Pat, observes from the sidelines. The film wisely avoids the usual boxing-flick cliches, most commendably during the climactic Big Bout. With Lionel Barrymore (as Sean O'Malley): I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired and Teresa Celli as Marina Monterez.

The romantic rivalry between a boxing champ and a sports writer for the love of daughter of the fighter's wheelchair bound manager. This off-beat drama chronicles the results of that rivalry and is particularly interesting for avoiding most of the stereotypical situations that usually plague boxing movies.

Marilyn Monroe appears unbilled in the opening scene as Dick Powell's dinner companion.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal: a realistic portrait of a LAPD officer in "End of Watch"

Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal in a publicity still of "End of Watch" (2012) directed by David Ayer

END OF WATCH hits theaters nationwide on September 28

For his upcoming drama "End of Watch," actor Jake Gyllenhaal went to great lengths to believably transform himself into an LAPD uniformed officer. He spent five months in physical and tactical training, he rode along on patrols, and, it should be noted, he shaved his head.

How successful was he at turning himself into a cop? So much so that real police officers didn't realize he was an actor and not one of them.

In an email interview, the film's writer and director David Ayer (who also wrote "Training Day" and "The Fast and the Furious") explained how it happened. He said that the movie's "found footage" shooting style required the camera crew to stay out of sight while Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, who plays his partner, performed their scenes.

Ayer said, "There were times where Jake and Mike are in uniform in a marked police vehicle," and there were no cameras to indicate a movie was being filmed.

Ayer recalled, "Cops in LA will do a hand sign with four fingers to say 'everything's good.' Jake threw a 'Code Four' at some LAPD cops rolling by and they threw a 'Code Four' back. I don't think they had any idea it was Jake Gyllenhaal!" Source:

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard welcome daughter Gloria Ray

Jake Gyllenhaal at "Prince of Persia" Press Conference (May 9, 2010) in London -new additions in IHJ gallery-

Jake Gyllenhaal leaves a private party on Central Park West around midnight last night, then walks to the local subway station.

Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal attending "Death Of A Salesman" Broadway Opening Night on March 15, 2012.

Parenthood just became twice as nice for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. The couple welcomed their second child, daughter Gloria Ray, on April 19 in New York City, a rep for Gyllenhaal tells the Daily News.

This is the second child for the “Hysteria” actress, 34, and the “Lovelace” actor, 41, who are already parents to daughter Ramona, 5. The couple, together since 2002, wed in Italy in 2009. Source: