February 26, 2010
February 24, 2010
The ladies took to the ice last night in Vancouver for the figure skating short program, and you had to be under a rock not to hear about Joannie Rochette. The Canadian figure skater's mother died suddenly of a heart attack last weekend and in spite her overwhelming grief, Rochette skated a nearly flawless program from the heart and finished in third place.
After completing the program Rochette burst into tears while acknowledging the standing ovation from the crowd. It was the most heartbreaking and moving moment of the Games so far.
There were however other ladies who skated last night. Two Americans, Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu are in fifth and sixth place respectively, but the top two spots are occupied by two titans of Asia.
My favorite was Mao Asada of Japan even though she's in second place behind North Korea's 19 year-old dynamo, Kim Yu-Na who skated her program to a medley of James Bond music.
February 23, 2010
When you look at the title of this post, you might think, "Hmm, which of the many women nominated for Best Director should have won the Academy Award?" Well, the problem with that is you'd have to stop and remind yourself that in the history of the Oscars, only four women have been nominated for Best Director.
Sophia Coppola, Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, and this year's nominee for the film Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow.
What up, Hollywood? And while we're at it, where are the women of color?
Just a couple of weeks ago, Bigelow became the first woman to win the Director's Guild of America award for Hurt Locker.
And last weekend, she won Best Director at the BAFTAS, the British version of the Oscars, another first. Hurt Locker won as Best Picture.
So if history holds up, those wins will propel Bigelow toward taking home an unprecedented Oscar. But as we all know, in Hollywood, anything can happen.
Interestingly enough, women didn't always have it so tough in Hollywood. During the silent era, according to the excellent book, Women Directors and Their Films, by Mary G. Hurd, "opportunities for women were plentiful, ranging from positions as typists, assistants, writers, editors, actresses, with some women gaining chances to direct, and a few creating their own companies."
When movies became big business and unions and talkies came into play, slots for women became more scarce and the current old boy network took root. Still, women directors like Dorothy Arzner and actress Ida Lupino made a variety of films while working within the constraints of the old boy system.
However, it's only been in the last 30 years that women directors have begun to break through in Hollywood. Several should have been nominated for their work and rewarded with a win. I set out to find 10. I only partially succeeded.
You see, I didn't realize until I started my search that I haven't seen a lot of what I thought were really good movies directed by women.
I've heard of Eve's Bayou, directed by Kasi Lemmons; Seven Beauties, directed by Lina Wertmuller; and Clueless, directed by Amy Heckerling -- but I haven't seen them. I've obviously got some catching up to do.
In the meantime here are my, er ... six:
February 22, 2010
When I was in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I dabbled in writing. I wanted to be a writer, but I was afraid to be a writer. Afraid to make mistakes, afraid to show my work, afraid to put anything down on paper that might expose too much of who I was.
Though I'd always loved mysteries, I'd never read anything by Francis. I tended to stay away from mysteries written by men (too violent, or bad women characters), or mysteries written in the first person (too personal).
I made an exception for Reflex because the protagonist was a jockey whose hobby was photography, and at that time I was very much into photography.
After reading a couple of chapters of Reflex, all of a sudden, a light bulb went off. This was the style of writing I had been looking for.
All of my writing attempts up to that point were stories written in the third person. Though writing that way made me feel safer, less exposed, it never felt right. What did feel right was Francis' sparse, yet descriptive, first-person style.
The other thing I loved about Reflex was that the main character, Philip Nore, liked women. Not just loved women, had sex with women, or was raised by a woman -- he liked women. That theme carried through many of Francis' novels.
Add to that a murder and several photographic puzzles it took our hero, some bruises and a darkroom to solve, and by the end of the book I was a devoted Francis fan.
February 19, 2010
Last night Evan Lysacek proved that the world of figure skating judging can get it right once in a while. That's because last night he became the first American man in 22 years to win the Olympic gold medal.
And he did it without a quad, but with a command of the ice that all the other male jumping beans couldn't match.
In his comments after the competition, the reigning Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko was more than a little sour grapey when he said that an Olympic champion without a quad wasn't a real Olympic champion.
Well Yevgeny, I beg to differ. You've been getting away with those flailing arms and the pretense at artistic interpretation for years, while skating to music that might as well be playing in an elevator, for all that your program has anything to do with it. You've been getting away with stringing jumps together and calling it a program for far too long.
What Lysacek did over the two nights of competition was put together a technically proficient program--without a quad, mind you--that was exciting, interpreted the music and that created the kind of Olympic moments figure skating fans look for.
The only thing I found shocking was that the lame numerical judging system actually rewarded him for his efforts.
Since the figure skating higher ups implemented the numerical system, programs have pretty much become interchangeable as skater after skater adds up points by doing exactly the same moves as everyone else.
And then once a really good program is over and the audience is trying to figure out if the judges thought is was good or not, here come the numbers.
"Evan Lysacek, you got a...42!" Oh that's exciting.
Please, please bring back the 6.0 system and put in some judges who aren't in the national federations' pockets.
Finally, how ironic is it that 71 year old coach Frank Carroll doesn't get his first gold medalist pupil in the form of the great Michelle Kwan, but in Evan Lysacek? Gotta love it.
February 15, 2010
Image: 20th Century Fox
There's a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Andy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, comes upon her boss Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep. Miranda is sitting at home in a robe, lacking makeup and her usual fashion industry 'tude. She's just discovered her marriage is over and although clearly devastated, she struggles to maintain her pride, her arrogance and her grand, Miranda Priestly-ness.
In that one scene, Meryl Streep turned what could have been a terribly cliche moment into something very real and very moving. She made what might have been a caricature into a very flesh and blood woman.
It was that kind of scene that made The Devil Wears Prada more than just an exercise in ho-hum fluff.
But that's what Meryl Streep does: She transforms words on a page into magic on a screen.
February 14, 2010
Today is the 3rd blogiversay of Megan's Minute and I couldn't let it pass without putting up a quick post.
Yes, I know it's also Valentine's Day too, and a happy one to you all.
But more importantly it was three years ago today that I started on this blogging adventure and little did I know then the wonderful places it would lead.
I've met great people, online and off and I've grown as a writer in more ways than I can count.
Life has been very complicated lately and I haven't been posting nearly as much as I would like, but I'm totally committed to Megan's Minute and finding out where it takes me next.
Of course none of this would be possible without my readers, some who are steady visitors and some who just stop by once in a while. I treasure all of you and the time you take to read what I have to say.
So a big Thank You to you, and a big Woo Hoo to me!
February 12, 2010
Have you heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game? Well TCM is programming each Oscar winning movie like the game, so that every film is linked to the film after it by a shared actor or actress.
So for example, last weekend TCM played one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films "Rebecca" starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. The film that came right after was "Wuthering Heights" starring Laurence Olivier. "Wuthering Heights" co-starred David Niven, so the film after that was "The Pink Panther" starring David Niven.
You get the idea.
This weekend has some more really great movies and some favorites of mine like, "Roman Holiday," "The Guns of Navarone," "Jezebel," "Notorious" and "Murder on the Orient Express."
31 Days of Oscar will end on March 3rd and of course the Academy Awards themselves will air on March 7th on ABC.
You can check out my reviews of some Oscar nominated films at the following links:
Pass the popcorn!
February 05, 2010
It's gotten nine Oscar nominations and is destined to take home at least a couple, but how good is "Avatar?" Here's my review.
Some have called director James Cameron's "Avatar" a visually stunning film that's not to be taken more seriously than an afternoon's entertainment at your local multiplex. Others have called it another in a long line of films illustrating Hollywood's racial insensitivity.
Which is it? I'll get back to that.
First let me tell you what "Avatar" is all about. Set on the futuristic planet of Pandora, "Avatar" is about a native people, the Na'vi whose planet is being exploited for a valuable natural mineral, unobtanium, by a colony of money grubbing humans. The humans, who include a non-money grubbing staff of scientists are trying to negotiate mining rights to the unobtanium, but if that doesn't work, they're not above taking it by force.
Sigourney Weaver is Dr. Grace Augustine, the head of a science team who've developed a way for humans to become one of the Na'vi using computers and a home grown Na'vi body. Or something like that.
The scientists do it to learn. The military do it to "win the hearts and minds" of the Na'vi and get their unobtanium without a fight.
Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine who becomes part of the experiment when his brother who was scheduled for the program is killed. As Jake becomes accustomed to the nine foot, blue bodies of the Na'vi, he becomes enamored with the Na'vi people, their spiritual connections, culture and traditions.
February 03, 2010
"Lost" has returned and it's terribly good and terribly sad!
Good because the premiere jolted us back and forth like a ping pong ball and made us question everything we know about our intrepid characters and the island world.
Sad because it's almost over! Only fifteen more episodes before the end.
Look at these pictures from last week's screening in Hawaii of the Season 6 premiere, "LAX" Parts 1 & 2.
The cast looks happy. Hurley, Kate, Jin, Michael, Ben, and Ben's wife--who plays on "True Blood" by the way.
They don't feel our pain, our loss, our devastation at the thought of no more island mysteries.
Oh the humanity!
February 02, 2010
"Julie & Julia" star Meryl Streep is the only two-time Academy Award-winner contending this year. She widened the gap for the most total acting nominations by earning her 16th nod today. And she broke Katharine Hepburn's record of an even dozen Oscar nominations in the lead race, landing what she must hope will he her lucky 13th bid.
The most glaring omission on first glance is "Star Trek." As usual with the Academy voters, out of sight, out of mind.
"Star Trek" came out in the summer and despite it being a very good film and there being ten nomination slots, movies that came out more recently took up the bulk of the slots.
February 01, 2010
Jon Hamm seriously needs to host "Saturday Night Live" more often, 'cause the show is so much funnier when he's on it.
Check out this fabulously funny sketch where top Democrats have bedroom fantasies about the newly elected Republican senator, and former Cosmo pin-up boy, Scott Brown.