Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Vera Farmiga directs and stars in “Higher Ground” her directorial debut

Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga at the SXSW Festival to premiere their film Source Code in Austin, Texas.

"Walking into a movie set in a born-again Christian commune, one might expect a bit of a freak show. But that isn’t what Vera Farmiga provides in “Higher Ground” her directorial debut. The film is about the struggle to find meaning and belief in life and refuses to reduce people to caricatures, no matter their beliefs. Farmiga approaches the material with a sly sense of humor and an understanding of what it means to look for your place in life. The film is never mean-spirited and is full of rich details of life on the commune that presumably come from screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs, who developed the script with Farmiga based on her memoirs, “This Dark World.”
Vera Farmiga plays Corinne in her directing debut "Higher Ground" (2011)

Farmiga plays Corinne, who as a girl dreamed of being a writer. But she and her wannabe rock star boyfriend, Ethan (Joshua Leonard), drop their plans and get married when she gets pregnant while they’re in high school". Source:

Vera Farmiga arrives for the LAFF premiere of "Higher Ground" held at the Redcat Theatre on June 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California on 24th June 2011

Emily Mortimer, Martin Scorsese and Vera Farmiga attend the Cinema Society, Gucci & the Film Foundation screening of "La Dolce Vita" at the Tribeca Grand Hotel on June 1, 2011 in New York City.

"Farmiga has a reputation for being a director-friendly actor. Speaking with Rich, Farmiga talked about choosing roles: “There’s gotta be something about a woman that turns my head.” Working with Martin Scorcese: “Marty loves to talk… yap yap yap. He’s got so much fervor and enthusiasm, but he talks until the cows come home.” Her attraction to the script of her directorial debut, “Higher Ground” which was at the festival: “I have a great admiration for those solely focused on spiritual enlightenment. My father always feels the breath of God on his face. I sought to grasp that.” Source:

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th July!

Robert Mitchum and Barrie Chase in "Cape Fear" (1961)

"Cape Fear": Fireworks are as much a part of July 4 celebrations as the ability to recall whether it was Jefferson or Adams that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Independence Day parades aren't as omnipresent as they used to be, but you can still find them slowly traveling down Main Street in some towns. Martin Scorsese took both the parade and the fireworks motifs common to July 4th celebrations and infused them with the kind of sickly truthful malevolence that only he used to be capable of pulling off.

Robert de Niro as Max Cady in "Cape Fear" (1991)

Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" utilizes Independence Day celebrations as a metaphorical reminder that Max Cady may well have done some bad things, but he was still entitled to fair legal representation. The noble perversion of Max Cady as a streetwise combatant for the very rights being demanded by those attending the Continental Congress usually passes over the heads of "Cape Fear" viewers; probably because to consider Max as the contemporary offspring of Sam Adams and John Hancock is just too much perversion to bear. Source:

36 Reasons It's (Still) Good to Be an American Man
Right after 9/11, we conjured 162 ways to love this place. Ten years later, there's every reason to feel just as patriotic — or at least as hungry, happy, thirsty, and proud to be a part of it all. -By Charles P. Pierce

The Great American Novel.
Route 66.
Highway 101.

Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth
Pamela Anderson
Taylor Swift
Ashton Kutcher
Hayden Panettiere as Carrie at prom dance
Britney Spears
Ava Gardner

Scenes from "Naked Alibi" starring Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden

-Chief Joe Conroy (Sterling Hayden): Are you in the habit of hauling in cut-up strangers?

-Marianna (Gloria Grahame): Yeah. It's a hobby with me.

Scenes from "Naked Alibi" directed by Jerry Hopper in 1954, starring Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden.

"It’s here in Border Town that things get hot, and most of the heat comes from gorgeous Gloria Grahame as Marianna. Employed to sing and dance in a tawdry little dive called El Perico, Marianna seems wildly out of place. But her mesmerized, drooling audience of hungry men don’t stop to ask questions, they just stare as Marianna performs a sexy number.
Dressed in a revealing dress that looks more like something for the vamp boudoir, Gloria lip synchs as she sashays around the room. Gloria couldn’t, apparently, carry a tune, but that’s okay because she more than makes up for this in every other department. Her performance rivals that of Rita Hayworth in Gilda, and as you watch her make her moves, the question of what such a gorgeous dame is doing in a dump in Border Town is answered when Al shows up. She’s his girl and she’s been waiting for him.
Marianna, the character who becomes swept up by the hunt and quest for vengeance has plenty of opportunity to walk away. But she doesn’t. Given the opportunity to stay outside of the destructive vortex created by this triangular-cyclone she steps back into the action, committed to the end of the line. Fate is irresistible and unavoidable and explodes into one of noir cinema’s greatest final scenes on the roof of a church.
One of the reasons Naked Alibi works so well is its excellent casting. Hayden, Barry and Gloria Grahame make the perfect noir cocktail. Even though Hayden’s career began as a model, he plays a true straight arrow. At 6’5” he always seemed to be too damn tall to be a criminal and made a much better cop, sheriff, government agent. Perhaps his days as an undercover agent in the CIO (Office of the Coordinator of information) left a mark. Hayden was married 5 times--three times to the same woman.
With previous credits such as The Atomic City (another Hopper film) and Those Redheads from Seattle to his name, Naked Alibi represented a big break for Gene Barry. In spite of the fact he’s uncomfortably convincing as the psychotic Al Willis, Barry’s Hollywood career never really made the big time, but he certainly made an enormous splash in television.
Gloria Grahame, one of my all-time favourite noir actresses, was at the peak of her Hollywood career in 1954 with a string of recent noir films to her credit--Sudden Fear & The Bad and The Beautiful (1952), The Big Heat & Human Desire (1953) when she made Naked Alibi. In her personal life, Gloria and her second husband, director Nicholas Ray were divorced in 1952, and she was dating soon-to-be third husband, Cy Howard during the making of Naked Alibi.
The scandal over her relationship with her stepson, Tony (who later became her fourth husband) was in her past, but certainly not off-the-record.
In Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame, author Vincent Curcio states that Gloria came on to Sterling Hayden so strongly that she frightened him off, and this shows in the scene when Conroy is in bed and Marianna makes a move.
A million men would gladly change places with Hayden as he sprawls in bed and Gloria moves in for the kill, but Hayden doesn’t look comfortable and you can almost see him cringe. Gloria Grahame is at the height of her smoldering beauty for this picture, and the form-fitting dress worn for the El Perico scenes shows off her spectacular shoulders to perfection.
Gorgeous Gloria--one of the greatest and most enigmatic names in noir film never got over her image problems. But for fans, she left behind a legacy of riveting noir films, and Naked Alibi succeeds largely due to her presence". Source:

Martha O'Driscoll as Marian Gale and Tom Neal as Rick Lavery "Blonde Alibi" (1946) directed by Will Jason

Happy 87th birthday, Eva Marie Saint!

Happy 87th birthday, Eva Marie Saint!

On the Waterfront (1954) directed by Elia Kazan: Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy & Eva Marie Saint as Edie Doyle (bar + wedding scene)

Jake Gyllenhaal Jake Gyllenhaal at The Andrews Int'l Training Center in Burbank

Jake Gyllenhaal at The Andrews Int'l Training Center in Burbank, CA, on 30th June 2011

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Why Jake is an attractive name? The arrangement of vowels

Jake Gyllenhaal, inches from the Golden Oscar Academy Award

"In Perfor's preliminary study (Amy Perfors is a graduate student in cognitive science from MIT) the arrangement of vowels According to Perfors, people might make a subconscious connection between a sound in a language and the meanings associated with sensitivity because they're smaller compared to the big, round back vowels that come from down in the gullet.
That means the same male faces were rated as slighty hotter when they were given stressed-back-vowels names such as Jake, Ben, Matt, or Rick than when they were given stressed-front-vowels such as Paul, George, Tom or Lou.

Ben Stiller with Teri Polo in "Little Fockers" (2010)

That means we may perceive Jakes and Bens as cuter and gentler than Pauls and Scotts. (To my ear, front-vowel names also sound crisper and more straightforward than back-vowel names)" -extracts from "Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains--The Science Behind Sex, Love, & Attraction" by Jena Pincott (2009)

"For Simmons, stardom equals box office. In his mind there are only 24 true movie stars working in Hollywood right now (he doesn't appear to rank them, but this is the order in which they're listed): Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Russell Crowe, Jeff Bridges, Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck, Jake Gyllenhaal, Justin Timberlake, and Kevin James. And what do these guys -- no women, notably -- have in common? "All of them can open any movie in their wheelhouse that's half-decent," says Simmons. "If it's a well-reviewed movie, even better." Source:

Friday, July 01, 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow showing her risqué naked side for Vanity Fair August calendar

Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine and Jake Gyllenhaal as Harold Dobbs in "Proof" (2005)

"Once considered the goody-two-shoes of Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow has showed her more risqué side by posing naked but for a pair of fishnet tights and Louis Vuitton jewellery for Vanity Fair magazine's August jewellery calendar.

Paltrow's recipe for Lemony Grilled Chicken to accompany the wrap is as follows: "Marinate chicken breast in lemon juice and a tiny (emphasis on tiny) bit of olive oil. Season well and grill. Serve with the steamed vegetable or vegetable salad of your choice." An afternoon snack of almonds or organic fermented tea is followed by Anderson's "super-low calorie" turkey kale soup for dinner. "I can eat what I want as long as I exercise, which is just as well, because if I put the word 'diet' into my brain, I immediately gain a stone."

Harold Dobbs - HalGwyneth Paltrow's 'Dressed Up' option from her spring lookbook, which she wore to attend Beyoncé's London concert

She regularly dispenses fashion advice through her site and recently teamed up with a shopping website to select a handful of wardrobe "basics". She faced accusations of being out of touch when the price of her "capsule wardrobe" turned out to be £11,894". Source:

Jake Gyllenhaal leaving the Urth Café in West Hollywood on 28th June 2011

Jake Gyllenhaal leaving the Urth Café in West Hollywood on 28th June 2011