Live from the Dubai International Film Festival: Monday, Dec. 9
How bad can a film-festival day be when you see four movies - and only one of them is terrible? And the best one is the last one of the day?
That was my Monday at the Dubai International Film Festival.
The best film of the day was a joint production from Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the USA: Traitors, a film by American filmmaker Sean Gullette (who was the star of Darren Aronofsky's breakthrough debut, Pi).
Starring newcomer Chaimae Ben Acha as a would-be punk-rocker in Tangier named Malika, the film starts with her meeting with a producer, who tells Malika she likes her songs on the rough demo she sent her. So she's willing to produce a real demo for Malika and her band, Traitors, and try to get them signed.
One catch: Malika has to come up with the money for the recording studio time, a fairly princely sum for an unemployed singer. "I'm a producer, not an ATM," the producer notes.
Desperate, Malika takes a job that will earn her all the cash - but which could cost her more. She agrees to help a drug smuggler by driving an SUV into the mountains, where the car's cavities will be filled with drugs. Then she and another young woman, Amal (Soufia Issami), will drive it back to Tangiers - through the various drug-interdiction roadblocks along the way. But the farther into the job Malika gets, the less she wants to do it.
There are not a lot of actual incidents in the film: no chases or shootouts. Yet Gullette creates real tension, through silences, quiet encounters with the drug lord and the extremely expressive face of Ben Acha. She looks like a cross between Rashida Jones and a young Joan Jett and has the tough swagger of Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books. Issami also brings a blend of the callous and the vulnerable as her new acquaintance and partner in crime. It's a strong, gripping film from start to finish.
This commentary continues on my website.
Movie review: <i>American Hustle</i>
It's not until two-thirds of the way through American Hustle that the word "Abscam" even comes up.
Because, while David O. Russell's new film is about a fictionalized version of that FBI sting of the late 1970s and early 1980s, it's less about the game itself than about the players. There are a lot of people with their fingers in this particular pie; the question is whether anyone will came away from it with more than a few crumbs.
At heart, American Hustle is about love among con artists - is it ever real? Or is it always a con? And how can you tell the difference?
It's not easy, even for a seasoned operator like Irving Rosenfeld, the second amazing leap Christian Bale has taken as an actor this year, along with Out of the Furnace. Irving is a conman from way back, the kind of guy who runs small-time investment scams, like Bernard Madoff but on a penny-ante scale.
He thinks he's died and gone to heaven when he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a fellow con who affects a British accent to play an expatriated Brit who claims to have insider connections to the Bank of England. Together, she and Irving assemble a nice little illegal living from their Long Island office - and a sexy relationship, despite the fact that Irving is married to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and has adopted her son.
Things get tricky, however, when Irv and Syd are busted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), a mama's boy with anger issues who is looking for the big takedown to advance his career.
This review continues on my website.
'Jupiter Ascending' Trailer: Channing Tatum & Mila Kunis Made Sci-Fi For The Wachowskis
Those unhappy that Hollywood has become a mass producer of worn out ideas should take note of "Jupiter Ascending." The new film, an original science-fiction feature from Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix," "Cloud Atlas"), stars Channing Tatum as a splice ("I'm a hybrid wolf and human," Tatum said this year), Mila Kunis as the possible queen of the universe, and looks positively massive. Warner Bros. released the first "Jupiter Ascending" teaser trailer on Monday, days before it's set to go into theaters with prints of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Check it out below (the music is by composer Michael Giacchino), along with the film's official synopsis. "Jupiter Ascending" is out in theaters on July 25, 2014.
Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in “Jupiter Ascending,” an original science-fiction epic adventure from filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski. Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
'Sleepy Hollow' News: Head Honcho On What's Next For Ichabod, Abbie And The Horseman
In these troubled times, when America is polarized by political rancor and persistent social divisions, only one thing can unite the nation: A time-traveling patriot from the 18th century, and a 21st century cop, banding together to avert the apocalypse.
Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" is one of the year's biggest hits, and despite its "bonkersawesome" premise -- Revolutionary War spy Ichabod Crane and upstate New York sheriff Abbie Mills battle the Headless Horseman and a host of other supernatural baddies -- the show didn't just coast on special effects and loony developments. Throughout its first season, the show has displayed solid storytelling, er, chops and its two leads, Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, have displayed the most crackling chemistry this side of Walter White's meth lab.
You wouldn't blame Fox for wanting to prolong the Horseman's run, but Mark Goffman, executive producer and showrunner of "Sleepy Hollow," said in an extensive interview with HuffPost TV that the network was steadfast in its commitment to a 13-episode first season. The show will air its next new episode on Jan. 13 and then "Sleepy Hollow" will have its two-hour Season 1 finale Jan. 20. After that, we won't see Moloch or Ichabod or the "Leftenant" (Crane pronounces Abbie's job title in the British way) until Season 2.
I am not sure what will we do when we can no longer revel in Crane's annoyance at modern life or watch the team converse with a man without a head (this actually happened). But would fans get our heads chopped off if we were to begin to hope for a Season 2 expansion?
"I don't know. My head would explode," Goffman said with a laugh about a longer second season. A representative for the network said Fox is committed to airing "at least" 13 hours of "Sleepy Hollow" when the show returns, but won't decide about adding to the episode order until next year.
I'll cross my fingers that Season 2 is longer than 13 hours, but not too much longer. One of the pleasures of Season 1 has been its density, its drive and the momentum it's built as it hurtles to a showdown between Moloch and Team Anti-Apocalypse (which also includes Ichabod's wife, Katrina, who is stuck in a kind of inter-dimensional purgatory. Long story). Twenty-two episodes of bonkersawesome frolics -- headless or otherwise -- would have probably been about six hours too many. As it is, 13 has felt just about right, and there have been some very memorable character moments amid all the beheadings and so forth.
Regardless of the length of the season, "Sleepy Hollow" would have felt very hollow indeed if Goffman, the writers and the cast hadn't grounded the characters' adventures in real and relatable concerns. Both Ichabod and Abbie know what it's like to be estranged from their families, and they and Abbie's boss, Frank Irving (Orlando Jones), know what it's like to make huge sacrifices in one's personal life for the greater good. Ichabod, Abbie, Frank and Abbie's sister Jenny are lonely, driven people in the process of forming a new family, one that is threatened by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
Before I get to the Q&A with Goffman, I'll just say that a couple of the most welcome developments of Season 1 were the show's willingness to dive into the exciting espionage aspects of the Revolutionary War (some tales of derring-do arose from the writers' historical research into the period, others from Mison's training in swordplay). Even more impressive is "Sleepy Hollow's" disarming willingness to take on matters of politics, class and especially race.
Goffman said a future Season 1 episode addresses, somewhat in passing, the Second Amendment -- the right to bear arms -- and in previous episodes, the characters have discussed race, slavery and other thorny topics that don't seem quite as thorny when Ichabod Crane brings them up.
"I do think there's something innocent about the way that Ichabod Crane can approach it, because he is not from our culture," Goffman said. "So he can ask these questions out of a genuine curiosity, and they're not as loaded."
Spoilers ahoy: Don't read beyond this point unless you've seen "The Golem," Monday's episode of "Sleepy Hollow."
Below is a shortened version of my Q&A with Goffman, in which we discussed whether whether John Noble's Sin Eater figures into the show's future, whether Ichabod's newly discovered son Jeremy figures into the ongoing mythology and what Revolutionary War stories Ichabod and the Horseman might have up their sleeves. For the whole interview, check out the most recent Talking TV podcast, which has my entire conversation with Goffman and a discussion of the show between myself and Ryan McGee.
The first question is about Jeremy. Could he be revived or he can somehow still interact with the characters that we know? Is that a possibility?
Yeah. One of the great things about this show is that dead doesn't always mean gone. The important thing in this episode for us was really for Ichabod to have closure with what happened to his son. In the episode prior, it was the first time that he ever learned that he had a son. And I think it was really about, for us, all of the feelings it had stirred up in him, knowing that he and his wife did have a son, this family that he had always dreamed of.
There will be a lot more opportunity to do flashbacks where we get to see other pieces of [Jeremy's] life and how that related to Katrina and Ichabod, and how he factored into everything that was happening after the war ended. We placed Ichabod's suspension in 1781, which is toward the end of the Revolutionary War, and part of that is so that we can play some of the aftermath. I think we'll find out a lot more about that in future seasons.
The coven that exiled Katrina -- are they going to come back into play in the present day? Will they necessarily have the same agenda as Ichabod and Abbie?
Well, it remains to be seen just how many of the witches are still around. The Revolutionary War took a major toll on the coven and a lot of the supernatural forces that were around. In this episode, we saw that the Four Who Speak of as One still had been around but they were in hiding, in a way. In the pilot, we saw Reverend Knapp, who was around during the Revolutionary War. He was another warlock who was killed protecting the secret of the Headless Horseman's head. Unfortunately they're a dying breed, but we'll see how they get to interact and how many more of them are around.
It's interesting to me that the show is exploring this era in history because it seems like there's kind of a hunger to know more about that time. From what I understand, you studied history and public policy -- is it a dream come true to be able to unleash your history fixations on the world?
Yeah, it's a blast. You never really know where life's going to take you. I got a master's in public policy from Harvard and had planned on becoming a speechwriter, and actually did a bit of speechwriting, and I've always loved Washington D.C. I lived abroad a couple of years working in government and public service. And then I got to write for "The West Wing" for a while, so I definitely have a background in all that, and a real love of history and government and our founding fathers.
This show offers a really great opportunity to dig into the world of revolutionary times and recast it [as part of an apocalyptic scenario]. Having Ichabod Crane as this character who can comment on both what we were fighting for back then, and who gets to look at America and look at how our society works today and give us the point of view of our founding fathers is really exciting and fun to write.
One of the things that grounds the show is the aspirational quality of trying to save the world, and the sincerity of the core characters too. Was that one of your goals -- to try to keep it as grounded in individual human beings as possible?
Yeah. It's part of the tightrope walk of the show. But one of the really fun aspects is to, as much as possible, put ourselves in their shoes. And yeah, it opens us up to being able to relate to these characters. Both Ichabod and Abbie are flawed in certain ways and very human. And the two of them together -- they complete each other in a certain way. They're both witnesses, they both have these major voids in their lives. Abbie's family was really wrecked through no fault of her own and she grew up in the foster-care system. And Ichabod, to wake up 200 some years later is an impossibility to try to fathom.
There are moments when the show is doing something I just don't see a lot of, or I haven't seen elsewhere. Like them talking about slavery in the midst of trying to trap the Headless Horseman. There's a combination you're pulling off in some of those scenes that can be really enjoyable.
Well, we feel like there is a way to talk about these things in a grounded, real, modern way and we don't have to shy away from it. There's an upcoming discussion about the Second Amendment -- it's brief, but I'm curious what Ichabod Crane had to say about that. We know that [the Second Amendment came about] because British soldiers were quartering themselves in the homes of Americans. So what were those discussions like at that time? And what would they think about where we are today? And whichever side you're on on that argument, I think it's fascinating to know the truth and have these characters just have a little bit of a conversation about it.
It's really interesting that the show addresses race. It doesn't shy away from it. Having this somewhat fantastical premise -- maybe that's what gives you the license to go to these areas that many other shows avoid?
I do think there's something innocent about the way that Ichabod Crane can approach it, because he is not from our culture. So he can ask these questions out of a genuine curiosity, and they're not as loaded. But I think that the cast of the show and the casting of the show makes it very organic to both either talk about race, or not talk about race, and it feels natural. I think that's great. In any of our daily lives, sometimes you talk about race and sometimes it doesn't matter at all, and that's sort of our approach in the storytelling.
Are there a lot of other Revolutionary War stories -- real people and events -- that you want to draw upon?
Absolutely. The Revolutionary War lasted seven years. We set up that Crane's been in the country for about 10 years, so he was there before the revolution started. There are just incredible events, and we like to start from the premise of what we know or things we may have heard about, like Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. And then we tell part of the true story, [as with] Roanoke, and we get to give the "Sleepy Hollow" version of what happened next. Whether it's the Liberty Bell or the Boston Tea Party, there's some really terrific events in the Revolutionary War that I'm excited to get to play out.
We already saw a little bit of the Boston Tea Party, are we going to see more of that?
I think there's more to that event, and there's more to see in Boston -- the Boston Massacre and several other events that led up to the war, to "the shot heard around the world."
The Liberty Bell, we haven't seen that yet, but that's coming?
Yes. There will be something with that. I can't say which season, but that's something we're planning. We do a lot of research on the war and we have biographies of a lot of the founding fathers. And there are actually some really interesting true facts that are going to come to light about George Washington. [He was famous] not just for being a cartographer, but for being a leader in spycraft in the time, and he started something called the Culper Ring, which had spies all throughout Manhattan during the war.
How do you all go about making this show grounded when so many bonkers things are happening?
We've definitely embraced the bonkersawesome mantra, and we talk a lot in the writers' room about the elements of an episode that people are going to find difficult to believe. We're always straddling that line. We work hard to make the impossible seem possible, and it is hard, but I think that's where we have a lot of fun.
How do you make a Headless Horseman talk? That was a conversation for a long time, because we knew we wanted to capture him. We knew we wanted to interrogate him. We went through a lot of iterations before we landed on the Necromancer, and then it really seemed to make sense and felt right.
Obviously Ichabod and Abbie obviously have a deep connection that they're still just figuring out, and obviously the fans enormously respond to that relationship in many different creative ways. I spend hours on Tumblr just looking at "Sleepy Hollow" fan art and photos and things.
Oh yeah. It's inspiring, actually.
They're so creative. But I just wonder, does it have to go in the direction of a romantic relationship? I mean obviously Ichabod is still married in his wife in his mind …
In his wife's mind too, I think.
Do you think at this point, Ichabod and Abbie's relationship as friends, colleagues and witnesses is really all that you want to focus on, and the idea of something beyond that just doesn't enter into your thinking? I mean, is there going be a love triangle? Where is your thinking on all of that?
Well, I think we really have to first identify that we're in the middle of -- or not even in the middle, we're at the very early stages of an apocalyptic reality for these characters. They are dealing with an incredible amount of change in their lives and in the possible change of life as we know it. And so I think romance, to some extent, takes a back burner to that.
In addition, we still have Ichabod, who's madly, deeply in love with his wife, trying to understand who she really was, now that it's come out that she's a witch and she had a number of secrets that she had to keep from him. There's a lot of reconciliation that needs to [happen] there.
Right now [Ichabod and Abbie] are there for each other in this incredibly heightened time in their lives. And that's most important, because look, they're also very different people and I think as they get to know each other, we're going to get to see that they have a lot of differences as well as similarities in value systems, cultures, the worlds that they come from. And so all that I think is going to be great to explore. It's going to be hopefully a long time that these two characters get to know each other better and we get to experience all of their trials with them and see what happens with Katrina. Abbie even has a former love interest. So I think there's still a long way to go.
At this point, Ichabod just wants his wife to exist on this physical plane -- that's job one, probably.
But even with that, as important and as critical that is for him, he also knows that there's a larger picture. We're constantly pitting those competing goals against each other. I think we saw in this episode, the simple fact of going to visit her for his need for information [about Jeremy] had very real consequences on our world. And that challenge, that problem isn't going go away, and now he's seen very real consequences from his actions, and that's going to make him think twice about doing anything that dangerous again.
Just briefly to touch on John Noble -- is he in the last three hours of the season?
He is just phenomenal. He's in at least two of the three coming up in January. He's definitely in the finale. It's a great character, really fun to write and just a fantastic actor. So hopefully there's a lot more of him. [Note: Goffman also said we'd see Sheriff Corbin again in a January episode.]
The Talking TV IchaPodcast featuring the full Goffman interview is here, on iTunes and below.
"Sleepy Hollow" returns to Fox with a new episode 9 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 13. The two-hour season finale airs 8 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 20.
Why I Made a Film Called <i>Free the Nipple</i> and Why I'm Being Censored in America
This post may contain NSFW images.
Question: What is the legal penalty and fine for a woman walking topless on the streets of New York City?
a) 3 days in jail and $1,000
b) 1 days in jail and $5,000
c) 5 days in jail and $1,500
Answer: It's a trick question, because, according to statute 245.01 per the Appeals Court of The State/City of New York, it is completely legal for a woman or a man to opt not to wear a shirt (or bra) in public. Of course, a man wearing a bra will get more stares than a woman wearing a bra (thank you, Madonna) and a woman going bare-breasted will draw more stares than a man doing the same, but why? Why is a woman's nipple so controversial? I decided to tackle this subject with my new film -- Free the Nipple.
Is it simply a matter of societal taboos, which is to say, a matter of social conditioning? Or are there perhaps intrinsic biological factors, some deep DNA override to why we are so programmed to stare at a woman's nipples? For the record, today in the USA it is ILLEGAL, a CRIMINAL ACT for a woman to be publicly topless in 37 states, and yes, that even includes breastfeeding in five of those states. Thankfully our country has a very long tradition of amending draconian laws when they no longer serve our modern times. Is it possible with some cultural engineering, a little "societal enlightenment" we could influence legislation and the shock-and-shame reaction that one topless character in my film addresses with the rallying cry: "Don't subject me to your shame, about my body!"
Freeing The Nipple aside, the film focuses on the hypocritical contradictions in our media-dominated society wherein acts of baroque violence, killing, brutalization and death are infinitely more tolerated by the FCC and the MPAA, who regulate all films and TV shows in the US. Did you know an American child sees over 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders on TV before they turn 18 and not one nipple? Yet the FCC fines CBS $550,000 for Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction; which was covered by a metal "nipple shield" if one looks at the footage. And the mere suggestion of a single lovemaking act with Evan Rachel Wood and Shia LaBeouf in the recently-released Charlie Countryman sends the MPAA into a frenzy, while simultaneously forcing Martin Scorsese to re-cut sex scenes and nudity in his soon to be released The Wolf of Wall Street.
My own film, Free The Nipple (which I directed straight through Hurricane Sandy, unaware of the second, very different "storm of censorship" I would face) is based on the real-life efforts by a group of women who, like Delacroix's "Liberty Leading The People", bravely fought the double-standard body-censor laws in New York which stipulated that only men could be shirtless in public. Their direct actions resulted in the 1992 victory and legalization of public toplessness for women in New York City -- and yet the NYPD continued to arrest women anyway!
How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Just Go Topless
And so, in 2012 I took to the streets with my cast, crew, and armies of topless women in an attempt to end this insane war on women's boobs.
And in a case of life imitating art -- or more specifically, I like to think -- art catalyzing civil, civic action -- the first week we started shooting Free The Nipple, something extraordinary happened: our little independent film exploded into a full-blown "real life" series of direct actions, with topless women, activist groups and graffiti artists invading the streets of New York, waging cultural war for our freedom. It was beyond inspiring to see so many dedicated individuals from so many walks of life, filling in to play their part in a concerted movement.
On formal terms, you could say Free The Nipple is a macro-micro story of personal discovery and societal liberation. For me, the making of this film was also a liberating experience; like "With", the symbolically-named character I portray, the act of being topless in public, is, as my character says: "right up there with being buried alive."
And so (SPOILER ALERT) when my character runs topless through Times Square, it's really me confronting my own deepest social fears, in an act of self-confrontation which I believed to be essential, both for my personal evolution, and by way of understanding viscerally, the taboo-tyrannized dynamic I was trying to change. And what better place to raise a flag for personal liberty than Times Square, the crossroads of the world? Like the coming together of different tribes during the making of Free The Nipple, it was a personal victory I'll never forget.
Of course, these fleeting victories we enjoyed during filming were only the first of our battles. Waging a cultural war via celluloid -- I mean digital -- after completing my first cut of the film, we encountered a serious reality check: Our lawyers informed us that unless we cut our film the MPAA was going to give us an NC-17 rating (AKA The kiss of death) from the Motion Picture Association of America, who don't seem to have come very far from the Hays Code (historical comparisons can be drawn between GW Pabst's Pandora's Box and Charlie Countryman).
This makes me wonder: is violence encouraged and/or tolerated by the FCC and the MPAA because it instills in us a militaristic mindset? Maybe that's a ridiculous question, but what exactly is the MPAA's rationale? That is one of the central questions I am still trying to answer even after shooting Free the Nipple. Whatever the case, after all my research and journey into the "censored heart" America's darkness, one thing is for sure, it is now time to update these codes and the MPAA's backwards ratings system.
And it's also very important to note that Puritanical dicta aren't exclusive to film industry regulators. When I started my online campaign, Facebook and Instagram banned the photos of topless women that were taken on location, faster than we could put them up. Why can you show public beheadings from Saudi Arabia on Facebook, but not a nipple? Why can you sell guns on Instagram, but yet they will suspend your account for posting the most natural part of a woman's body? As President Eisenhower said, in the era of McCarthy: "The most dangerous weapons of any Tyrant, are not weapons and guns, but censorship."
My life's dream is that this movie will make it to theaters, and help change the ridiculous censorship laws in this country by inspiring federal laws to de-criminalize the female body. I would love your help to free our country from tyrants that throw women in prison for the most basic human right, to be topless on a beach or feed your child without the police arresting you or your wife.
Free The Nipple attracted an amazing cast of actors who are also all hardcore activists in real life. Monique Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie in High School Musical 1, 2 and 3 was one of the first to come on board. Stand up comic and actress Janeane Garofalo from Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and such movies as Ratatouille, Half Baked and Reality Bites joined the revolution soon thereafter. Activist and actress Casey LaBow from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One and Two, and newcomer Lola Kirke, who is starring in David Fincher's next film Gone Girl, were recruited to be the other fearless leaders of the revolution.
To bypass the MPAA's rating system, I've teamed up with a crowdfunding company as a next level marketing and distribution platform to reach the audience directly. I want people to see the film I intended to make not some Puritanical version that the MPAA feels is appropriate for American audiences. It's hard enough getting a film made in this world, without being censored in a country that ironically prides itself on freedom.
If you'd like to take a stand against censorship, you can learn more about the production and join the Free the Nipple team here www.fundanything.com/freethenipple.
Eleanor Parker Dead: 'Sound Of Music' Actress Dies At 91
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eleanor Parker, who was nominated for Academy Awards three times for her portrayals of strong-willed women and played a scheming baroness in "The Sound of Music," has died at 91.
Family friend Richard Gale said Parker died Monday morning due to complications from pneumonia. "She passed away peacefully, surrounded by her children at a medical facility near her home in Palm Springs," Gale added. Parker was nominated for Oscars in 1950, 1951 and 1955, but then saw her career begin to wane in the early 1960s. Her last memorable role came in 1965's "The Sound of Music," in which she played the scheming baroness who loses Christopher Plummer to Julie Andrews.
"Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known," said Plummer in a statement. "Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever."
Parker worked only infrequently after that, appearing in films and on such TV shows as "Fantasy Island," ''Murder, She Wrote" and "The Love Boat." She also starred in the short-lived 1960s TV series "Bracken's World."
"I'm primarily a character actress," she said in a 1988 interview, explaining why she never achieved the stardom of so many of her co-stars. "I've portrayed so many diverse individuals on the screen that my own personality never emerged."
Like William Holden, Robert Preston, Dustin Hoffman and others, Parker was discovered at the Pasadena Playhouse.
She was signed to a contract at Warner Bros., where she played only minor roles until the studio recognized her dramatic depth and cast her as Mildred Rogers in the 1946 remake of "Of Human Bondage."
The Somerset Maugham story had made Bette Davis a star 12 years before. On Parker's first day of filming, Davis sent her flowers and a note proclaiming, "I hope Mildred does as much for your career as she did for mine."
But the film flopped, and Parker was again relegated to mediocre roles until her breakthrough performance as an inmate in a brutal prison in the 1950 film "Caged." The role brought Parker her first Oscar nomination, for best actress.
Her second came the following year as Kirk Douglas's frustrated wife in "Detective Story."
Her career fully blossomed with such follow-up films as "Scaramouche" with Stewart Granger, "Above and Beyond" with Robert Taylor, "Escape from Fort Bravo" with Holden, "Valley of the Kings" with Taylor, and "The Naked Jungle" with Charlton Heston.
She took on one of her most challenging roles in 1955 in "Interrupted Melody," portraying opera star Marjorie Lawrence, who continued her career after contracting polio. Faced with having to lip-sync nine arias in three languages, she holed up in a Lake Arrowhead cabin for two weeks and played records eight to 10 hours a day.
The result: her third Oscar nomination.
Other notable films included "The Man with the Golden Arm" and "A Hole in the Head" (both opposite Frank Sinatra) and "The King and Four Queens" with Gable.
Growing up in Cedarsville, Ohio, Parker had yearned to be an actress, and when the family moved to Cleveland, she began taking acting lessons. In the summer she worked as an apprentice in a Martha's Vineyard stock company, waiting tables to support herself.
After moving to Pasadena, she was cast in her first movie role at 19, a bit part in "They Died With Their Boots On," starring Errol Flynn.
Parker's first three marriages ended in divorce: to Navy dentist Fred L. Losse; producer Bert Friedlob, which resulted in three children, Susan, Sharon and Richard; and painter Paul Clemens, with whom she had a son, actor Paul Clemens. Her 1966 marriage to Shubert Theater manager Raymond Hirsch ended with his death in 2001.
Simply Three Makes 'The Christmas Song' Both Modern And Classical (VIDEO)
It's not unexpected that we get a multitude of submissions sent in to us here at The Huffington Post. What is unexpected, however, is this submission above performed by Simply Three that is simultaneously so modern and classical in its rendition of the iconic tune "The Christmas Song" and that is sure to fill you full of holiday cheer.
Click play to listen to a unique performance that has truly captured the spirit of the original classic, the holiday season at large and all of our hearts here!
<i>Weeklings!</i>: What's the Gayest Musical? (VIDEO)
The hills are alive... with the shrieks of homosexuals who either loved or hated NBC's live version of The Sound of Music. Personally, I thought it could've been a smidgen gayer. In fact, we have so many great gay musicals that I decided to rank them all. What's the gayest musical? Find out in this edition of Weeklings!, my fancy Friedrich!
You can find previous Weeklings! episodes here.
Coping With Loss of Loved Ones Through Theratainment
The holidays can come loaded with affect for those who've had someone close to them die. More upsetting can be a recent loss, one which occurred around the holidays, or the first anniversary with a glaring non-attendance.
To begin with, it's glaringly obvious that their space at the table is vacated, a recipe is lost, or traditions have changed. The goal is for the void to become a less painful footnote to your history over time. However many years pass, though, people are not replaceable, and the empty space can be tangible.
Seemingly innocent comments such as "She's in a better place now," or "I know how you feel," can be counter-productive. Whatever the circumstances were, the company of someone once cherished is still desired. If there were conflicted emotions and fragmented relationships in life, the holidays can be further complicated by death.
Consider options to reduce or eliminate stressful shopping outings or have someone else host instead of entertaining. Set good limits by practicing saying no to whatever is unhelpful or uncomfortable. Keep true-blue support systems close.
The deceased can be a beloved presence in their absence in your heart and memories. It's okay to mention and acknowledge vulnerability around not having them physically present. A donation can be provided to honor their life, or plant a tree or small garden in their name, or volunteer at their favorite charity.
Putting together and going through a memory box with cards and pictures commemorates the departed and keeps them ever-present. Lisa will wear the Icelandic booties her late mother-in-law knit to keep her close. Tara is wearing her grandmother's gloves this winter.
To illustrate the ideas we've been talking about, let's turn to film, television, and books with topics of grief and loss at their core.
Terms of Endearment, 1983
Debra Winger plays a young dying mother and Shirley MacLaine, her mother. This gut-wrenching and heart-warming movie portrays a free-falling fractured family crumble. They ultimately rise above old hurts and wounds by pulling together for each other, and the children left behind.
Steel Magnolias, 1989
A stoic Sally Fields plays a mother grieving the death of her adult daughter, played by Julia Roberts. Being rescued from grief means to work through pain rather than suppressing it by shutting down or going numb. Fields' character finally allows herself, through the scaffolding of her friendships, to feel every crazy-making emotion that grief can bring as a way to heal.
The Lion King, 1994
Simba, a lion cub voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, experiences the death of his father. Instead of facing his father's death, he runs away as if it were a geographical problem. Maturing into adolescence, he realizes the importance of facing his pain, to move forward and recreate normalcy.
The Descendents, 2011
George Clooney is a grieving husband, father and go-to patriarch who navigates choppy emotional waters to hold his nuclear and extended family unit together. A remarkable depiction of the variable emotions during grieving, it's a skillful representation of how families mourn and support one another collectively.
Initially, the show does a nice job exhibiting individual self-expression along with groups suffering loss together and shoring up one another. Jane Lynch's character slips by suggesting the best tribute would be to not make "a self-serving spectacle of our own sadness."
Unfortunately orders like this can cause grieving individuals to believe their sadness is wrong. To pretend that everything is okay, or to suppress feelings and "move on" prematurely, isn't realistic or recommended. When appropriate grieving is short-circuited the risk increases that what manifests later on is worse -- angry outbursts, often with depressive features, such as panic attacks, and/or physical symptoms such as pain that can't be explained by other medical reasons.
In conclusion, managing the finality of death is a personal journey. Surrendering to the process to make meaning of the experience is not a cookie-cutter affair. One size does not fit all.
Author Joan Didion writes about this territory in two fine memoirs: the first, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), about her husband's passing and Blue Nights (2011), her daughter's. She spoke eloquently with interviewer Michael Silverblatt about these twin occurrences, which struck Didion in less than two years' time.
The same month Didion turned 69, her only child, an adult daughter, was in a coma, and her husband of 40 years, writer, John Gregory Dunne (whom she collaborated with at times) died of a sudden heart attack at their dinner table. Her daughter died two years later, while Didion was on a book tour about surviving Dunne's death. Didion described her grief as coming in "waves," meaningless -- a sense of incomprehension or incoherence -- took over, and how hard healing can come.
Rainer Maria Rilke's 1903 classic, Letters to a Young Poet, offers comfort that applies well to mourning:
"I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
Netflix To Debut Mitt Romney Documentary
"Mitt," a documentary about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's (R) pursuit of the presidency in 2012, will debut on Netflix's subscription streaming service, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The film, set to be released January 24, follows Romney and his family from 2006, when he first decided to seek the Republican nomination in the 2008 race, up to his concession speech in 2012. According to Deadline, the filmmaker Greg Whiteley (whose previous works include "New York Doll" and "Resolved") was given "intimate access" to the Romneys' lives throughout both of his presidential campaigns.
Variety notes that "Mitt" will be Netflix's second significant documentary film, following "The Square," an acclaimed look at political unrest in Egypt.
"Mitt" will first debut at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, then on Netflix in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Latin America, the Nordic territories and the Netherlands.
'The Wire' Creator David Simon Goes On EPIC Rant Against Inequality
David Simon doesn't like to mince words.
The creative genius behind such acclaimed television shows as "The Wire" and "Treme" has never been one to keep his opinions to himself. But the former Baltimore Sun reporter and screenwriter may have outdone himself, however, when he delivered an epic address on American inequality.
Simon originally made his speech on Nov. 2 during the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia. The address gained attention over the weekend when various outlets published excerpts online.
"America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics," Simon said. "There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity."
While noting that he is not a Marxist in the traditional sense, Simon complained that capitalism has in some ways failed, as it has "achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress."
In order for societies to thrive, they must believe in the spirit of cooperation, Simon explained. But that doesn't mean everyone gets the same amount. Rather, each person must feel "if the society succeeds, I succeed, I don't get left behind."
And so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.
He later warned that "unless we reverse course, the average human being is worth less on planet Earth" and went on to add that this course could be reversed if societies address what he calls the "socialist impulse" and marry that impulse to the "engine that is capitalism."
Simon was joined by a variety of international thinkers at the festival, including web theorist Evgeny Morozov, journalist Hanna Rosin, environmentalist Vandana Shiva and reporter-writer Erwin James, according to The Guardian.
Of course, this is not the first time Simon has delivered an outspoken take on American politics. Following the verdict of not guilty in the trial of George Zimmerman, Simon wrote in a blog post that he was "ashamed to call himself an American."
"You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it," Simon wrote at the time. "But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
(Hat tip, Raw Story)
'Bad Words' Red Band Trailer Takes Jason Bateman To Another Level
The new red band trailer for Jason Bateman's "Bad Words" is bursting with all sorts of bad words. The boundary-pushing teaser to the upcoming comedy is two crass minutes full of racism, breast ogling, and the basic plot of Bateman going up against kids in competitive spelling bees. Bateman also serves as the director to "Bad Words," which is set to hit theaters in March 2014. Take a look at the clip below.
R. Kelly Compares Chris Brown To Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. And Jesus
--Award-winning musician, R. Kelly compares Chris Brown’s resilience to public scrutiny to Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus. (The Guardian)
Mila Kunis And Ashton Kutcher Attend Her Brother's Wedding
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher haven't made any plans to make things official, but they looked pretty good walking down the aisle at Kunis' brother's wedding in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday (Dec. 7).
The 30-year-old actress turned heads as a bridesmaid in a strapless pink dress, as her older brother Michael Kunis, 36, tied the knot with ballet dancer Alexandra Blacker, 29. The pair became engaged last year after meeting through Mila, who was trained by Blacker to play a dancer in the 2010 film "Black Swan," reports People magazine.
And though it was her brother's big day, Mila reportedly caused quite the buzz herself, as she continued to wear a ring on that finger.
"Mila wore a gold band on her engagement ring finger but it didn't have a diamond, just a simple gold band similar to a wedding band," a source told E! News. "Mila was very happy for her brother and his wife. During the ceremony, she stood at the altar and seemed very focused on the vows."
Rumors that she may be engaged to Kutcher first began when Kunis was spotted sporting the ring in September.
See Mila and Ashton at her brother's wedding below:
Lamar Odom Receives 3 Years Probation In DUI Case
This morning (Dec. 9), Lamar Odom finally closed his DUI case by entering a no contest plea deal. This plea bargain leaves the NBA star with three years probation and $1,814 in fines after his August arrest, reports E! News. He will also have to complete an alcohol education course.
Odom originally plead not guilty after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI last summer. Khloe Kardashian's husband was caught driving under the speed limit and refused to take a breathalyzer test. He spent a night in jail, had his license suspended and faced DUI charges.
A separate DMV hearing has been scheduled to determine the status of Odom's now–suspended license.
As for his relationship with Kardashian, the couple is still working on sorting through their issues. Reportedly, Odom was invited to spend Thanksgiving with the Kardashian clan, but elected to spend the holiday with his father, who is not close with the reality stars.
The closed case is a positive monument for the basketball player, who is rumored to be considering a deal with the Clippers to move his career forward.
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