Armond White, Wes Anderson and A Loaf of Bread

God help me, but critic Armond White's article about why it takes so long for the "American Eccentrics" — namely, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, Alexander Payne, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sofia Coppola — to churn out their films is really great. White's metareactionary reviews normally get my dander up, but if I didn't cop to digging on this piece, I suppose I'd be guilty of the grandstanding I smell in most of his work. Or did I just evidence it now, already? Oy. Meta, meta, meta and not a drop to drink.

Here's the Amex ad by Wes Anderson he references. Much better than The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.


Russian Dolls (and Me) at the IFC Center

A brief e-treaty: If you're around tomorrow in NYC, come to the discussion I'm leading at the IFC Center's 2:00 screening of Russian Dolls. Although critical reception has been mixy, I actually prefer Dolls to its prequel, 2003's L'Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), which starred much of the same cast, including toothsome Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou. Afterward, I will be interviewing director Cédric Klapisch and moderating audience questions.

Particularly given that he looms as a huge rock star in his native country of France, Klapisch is a very generous interview subject. I interviewed him after a screening today, along with Romain, in his Parisian flat via ichat webcam. Between their wine consumption, the three-second delay, technology glitches, and my retardation directly proportional to Duris' wicked hottyhottyhotness (he was sporting a devastating mustache), the experience could have been misery incarnate. Twasn't, and since Sunday will just be Klapisch, with all technology glitches sorted, the event should prove quite worthy of a sawbuck and change. In a low-budget Jetson sort of way.

So come! And come with questions!

The American Office Is Funny

That said:

"AIDS is not funny. Believe me, I've tried." — Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), The Office season finale.

What can I say? I told you I was sick, man.


My Parents Emphasized the Life of the Mind and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee (Vee)

On Day 4 of this flu, I am beyond generating pithy half-baked puns and am now officially drowning in the snot that swallowed Brookland. There exists but one advantage of being this patheticus maximus, and it's revisiting the delicious boredom of childhood. And this time I get to watch TV.

Like most intellectually but not emotionally precocious kids, I had a lonely childhood. My best friends were Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, The Great Brain, Betsy and Tacey, Pippi Longstocking, and Ramona Quimby. I have no doubt that my best friends would have been Samantha, Natalie and Tootie, Jeannie, Laverne and Shirley, but my old man enforced a strict moratorium on all junkovision — that is, everything but public television. Under the circumstances, I had no choice but to mine my imagination and torture my cat for personal entertainment. I played the violin, conducted science experiments, took disco lessons, wrote dozens of plays about an alternate universe in which Miss Hannigan killed Annie and Ronald Reagan paid dearly for his predilection for jelly beans. And I read. And read and read and read.

Every librarian in town knew my name. I wielded such terms as "capricious" with aplomb in kindergarten. I spelled like a maestro, swore like a sailor (thank you Bukowski), and knew all the Shakespearean terms for sexual organs. But, really, I would have tossed it all over in a heartbeat for one episode of Love Boat. God knows I would have burned every one of those plays for an episode of Fantasy Island. I think anyone would have, frankly.

I had to laugh at that recent New York article about hipsters who try to brand their idea of cool on their children. (The acronym drummed up for the occasion was so uncatchy I can't even google it successfully.) How could the children of hippies convince themselves that any generation would willingly play choir to what their parents preach? Witness the Shiksa whore-mongering Chasid youth; the jacked-up children of the Christian right; the junked-up scions of Mormons and stage moms; the junkfoodjunkies hailing from macropsychotic families; and, me, Little Miss Junkovisionjunkie USA.

For I must confess, truly, I love television. I love film, yes, but I love TV just as unabashedly, if more crudely. Love love love, Eloise style. I squander my limited income on HBO and Showtime. I host Sunday Night Weeds and L Word parties. I rearrange my social life around Gilmore Girls. I miss appointments in order to watch the end of unfortunate Lifetime TV movies. (No, I don't have DVR. Yet.) I obsess over Lost, The Sopranos, The Wire. Even Big Love.

By laboring mightily to ensure they didn't raise a passive child, my poor parents begat an adult who ekes out her living rationalizing her daily TV and movie consumption. The road to hell really is paved with parents' good intentions.


Not What the Doctor Ordered (On Festivals)

I am riddled with flu right now — no doubt filmfestivalitus, a common strain of cinennui, exacerbated by an immunizing shot of bridesmaideningtitus for good measure. Nothing more on the wedding circuit here, I do thee promise, but I must report that, although Ebertfest was a piece of peach pie, Trifecta has already gone Utarded.

I like the model that Ebertfest presents: a showcase for hand-picked films with absolutely no choices to make and very few distractions. It allows for gestation, conversation, even, at times, conversion. (I like silent films now after a screening of The Eagle.) While is Tribeca even an essential stop on the overground film railroad?

Because my whole attraction to movies will always be that luxuriant surrender to another world, the plaguing sense that Something Is Being Missed (not to mention the nonstop flicker of the Blackberry) feels contrived. Oh, I understand braving the hoopla of the Toronto Film Festival (especially as it screens so many international films that don't make it to North America otherwise), and God knows nothing's going to stop the behemoth that is Sundanceteria in its tracks (not even Redford, apparently). But Tribeca? For all its overkill, it simply doesn't slay me.