Category Archives: Movies

The Endless Sommar

Well, this is a surprise.

Jason Adams, whose My New Plaid Pants blog keeps me informed about movies—especially scary movies and the hot actors who appear in them—wrote that he got to see the director’s cut of Ari Aster’s Midsommar at a special screening in New York a couple of weeks ago. He was impressed.

This weekend, a lot more people will be able to share the experience. The unrated, 171-minute version, with new scenes and extended footage, runs almost half an hour longer than the original release. Click here to find where it’s playing near you.

Midsommar was Aster’s follow-up to his first full-length feature, Hereditary, which scared the hell out of everybody in 2018. Many people—me among them—are still irate that Toni Collette didn’t get a much-deserved Oscar nomination for her performance in that film.


Here’s the original trailer for Midsommar:

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The Return of Jesse Pinkman

Confirmed at last!

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie written and directed by Vince Gilligan, will premiere on Netflix on 11 October 2019.

Here’s the first trailer:

The promo is set in the offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and if you look closely, you’ll see framed photographs of DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez on the office wall. Inside, low-level meth dealer (and surprisingly talented keyboard player) Skinny Pete is being interrogated by DEA agents about the location of Jesse Pinkman. He graciously declines to cooperate.

Netflix reportedly did not plan to announce the movie this early, but leaks, including a fake web page for El Camino, started showing up on Reddit yesterday, forcing the company’s hand.

Aaron Paul returns as Jesse, There’s no word yet about which, if any, of the other Breaking Bad cast members will appear in the movie. That probably depends on Vince Gilligan’s use of flashbacks, since so many of Breaking Bad’s characters wound up dead.

I’ve already cleared my calendar for Friday, 11 October 2019.

Here’s the poster:

“Gloria Swanson’s Mansion” Is Ready for It’s Close-Up

Prepare to be dazzled.

Some of the articles describing Gloria Crest, a spectacular estate a few miles from New York City, identify it as “Gloria Swanson’s Mansion”. Depending on which rumour the author cites, Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of future President John F. Kennedy, either gave Swanson the property or installed her there in the 1920s, when she was his mistress.

It’s well documented that Swanson had an affair with the elder Kennedy that began in the mid-1920s and lasted into the early 1930s, but the rest of the story is almost certainly untrue. Property ownership is easy to trace, but no one is particularly interested in debunking the myth. As the old newspaper adage put it, “the story is too good to check out”.

Gloria Crest is in the news these days because it’s for sale at a greatly reduced price. Don’t call your mortgage broker quite yet, though. The sale price is $9,999,999.*

What makes that a bargain is that Gloria Crest was previously on the market with an asking price of almost $40 million.

Gloria Crest

Gloria Crest

Here’s what Forbes had to say about the estate:

“Gloria Crest is a 24,000-square-foot mansion on one of Englewood, New Jersey’s historic streets. It was built in 1926 for Stefan and Edith Poniatowski (Stefan is said to be a descendant of a former King of Poland) but their fortunes soon crumbled when the stock market crashed in 1929. …and they soon had to auction their house along with most of their belongings in order to move to a condo in New York City. The home has had numerous owners over the years, and comes with the unconfirmed but oft-repeated rumor that it was occupied by film star Gloria Swanson while she was involved with Ambassador Joseph Kennedy…..

“Its most recent sale history had it on the market for $39 million back in 2013…then nearly going to foreclosure a little while later, then almost finding a foreign buyer for $20 million. Throughout all this Gloria Crest is still standing, as an eight-bedroom, 14-bathroom home on five lake-front acres, with its original Mediterranean style design intact now asking $9.99 million for the entire estate. While New Jersey does have some of the highest property taxes in the country, this is still a good deal.”

For those interested in purchasing Gloria Crest, here’s the listing.

For those interested in Gloria Swanson, here’s the last scene from Sunset Boulevard:


* I think the owners were afraid that people would be scared off if the property was listed at an even $10,000,000, so they lowered the asking price to attract bargain hunters. Clever sellers!

The Cats Trailer We Need. The Cats Trailer We Deserve

When the grotesque trailer for the movie version of Cats was released a few weeks ago, the reaction was near-universal horror. Remember that scene in The Producers when the theatre audience responds to the first song from the musical Springtime for Hitler with stunned disbelief? It was like that.

For anyone who has (understandably) suppressed their, uh, memories of the disaster, here it is again:

YouTube to the rescue. A YouTuber mashed up shots from the trailer with clips from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and has given us a trailer for Stephen King’s Cats:

Vast improvement, isn’t it?

King himself has tweeted his approval.

A Faithful Man –– Official U.S. Trailer

Louis Garrel, my favourite French actor, reminds me of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Franco. Like them, Garrel is a hugely talented actor who has created a body of work that mixes intriguing indie projects with big mainstream hits. They all take risks and make often-brave choices in the roles they play. All three are about the same age.

With his new romantic comedy, A Faithful Man, Garrel has progressed from acting in memorable films like The Dreamers, Ma Mère, and the delightful Les chansons d’amour, to writing and directing one as well.

In A Faithful Man, Garrel plays Abel, whose partner Marianne (played by Garrel’s real-life wife, Laetitia Casta) tells him that she’s pregnant and that he’s not the father. They go their separate ways, and time passes. Eight years later, Marianne’s husband Paul is dead, and Paul’s little sister Eve has grown from a 13-year-old girl into an attractive young adult who has had a longtime crush on Abel….

It’s all very French.

Eve, btw, is played by Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.*

A Faithful Man was released in France on 26 December 2018, and opened in the US with a  limited release on 19 July  2019, and will expand this weekend.


*Garrel, Gordon-Levitt, and Franco might want to take cautionary note. That description of their careers in my first paragraph could once have been used to describe Depp’s early trajectory. Both personally and professionally, the last 10 years have not been good ones for Depp.

“Infinite Space” at ARTECHOUSE

“Infinite Space, the first major retrospective of the work of award-winning, Los-Angeles-based, Turkish-born artist Refik Anadol, invites visitors to open their senses to the endless transformation and infinite possibilities at the intersection of man and machine.”
—from the program notes

That quote got me thinking about the endless transformation and infinite possibilities at the intersection of me and my vacuum cleaner, but perhaps I was taking it too literally.

The current environment in the main room at ARTECHOUSE suffered from a long, dull opening sequence that drove many of us from the room. It was only later that the artist gave us a taste of the mesmerizing beauty that keeps us coming back to the venue:

The walls in ARTECHOUSE’s main room are 30-feet high, so the video is best viewed full screen.

The real fun at this show was in the Infinity Rooms in the side galleries, where mirrored, angled walls created a high tech funhouse effect. Seeing two people who look vaguely familiar simultaneously approaching you from a corridor on your right and from a side hall on your left, and then realizing that they’re both you, is a wonderfully disorienting experience.*

If you wanted, you could be a one-person chorus line.

Two’s company, four’s a crowd.
Look closer. There are only four people in this picture.

“Infinite Space” will run through 2 September 2019.


The Lady From Shanghai
That Scene from Orson Welles’ 1947 film noir.


*Even though those two people are considerably older and heavier than you are.

North Bergen High School’s Alien. The Story Just Keeps Getting Better

Remember the North Bergen (New Jersey) High School production of Alien that went viral last month? After audience members posted a few key scenes from the play to YouTube, it was praised by everyone from Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, to Ridley Scott, director of the original film, and Sigourney Weaver, who starred as Ripley in the Aliens movies. Scott was so impressed that he donated $5,000 so that the North Bergen kids could stage it again for a limited run. The encore production opened Friday night.

Guess who showed up to surprise the cast and crew, and to introduce the performance.


Redditor Gato1980 posted this video of Friday’s full performance:

Gato1980 also posted the timestamps for key scenes: The Face-hugger scene is at 29:00, the Chest-burster scene is at 48:30, the alien reveal is at 54:08, the alien attack scene is at 1:10:45, and Sigourney outro is at 1:24:50.