December 3rd, 2010

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In the Spirit

The Spirit Award nominees have been announced. As an IFP member, I'll be voting again. I've only seen a few of the movies so will soon be venturing out in the cold for screenings. I already saw:

"Jack Goes Boating" (screenplay, supporting male and female) - I saw this at the IFC Center, where we did several "Wordplay" Q&As in 2006. This movie is an adaptation of a play with most of the same cast and still seems a bit stage-bound. Philip Seymour Hoffman directed and stars as an awkward limo driver stumbling into a relationship and learning to swim. Nominated actor John Ortiz and various producers spoke afterward... and I was then recognized in the subway station.

"The King's Speech" (foreign) - As with "An Education" last year, this high-profile British film is in the foreign category, which seems unfair to its lesser known non-English language rivals. The movie has Oscar written all over it, with Colin Firth playing the speech-challenged King George, Helena Bonham Carter the Queen Mother, and Geoffrey Rush a speech therapist. Firth, Bonham Carter, and director Tom Hooper did a Q&A afterward moderated by Rolling Stone's Peter Travers (who we met at a "Wordplay" showing in NJ - everything is about "Wordplay"). Neighbor J (who happened to be there) knows Travers personally and stopped to say hi, but I waited on the side since it was crowded and it can't always be about me.

"Tiny Furniture" (first feature, screenplay, cinematography) - I was at the premiere at MoMA. IFC exec Ryan Werner (who worked with us on "Wordplay" - there's that connection again) introduced the film and brought out writer/director/star Lena Dunham. As a tattooed, very young woman came up the aisle and made a few gushing remarks, I thought, "Uh oh, not another it girl" - but I ended up liking the movie. Dunham is indeed young (Oberlin '08), but her semi-autobiographical story of a recent college grad drifting in Manhattan (filmed in her family's Tribeca loft with her artist mother and younger sister playing her artist mother and younger sister) was absorbing and even endearing.  Cast and crew lined the front for a Q&A afterward. Press photos later revealed the guy in the reserved seat across the aisle from me was Judd Apatow, who is working with Dunham on a new project.

The other it girl that came to mind above was Diablo Cody, who I saw during her "Juno" tour. I recently finished her book "Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper." She had mentioned it might be considered a "stunt book" and I don't know if she went into stripping solely to write about it. Whatever the motive, the book's snappy writing made it an easy, but still sleazy, read. And if the aim was to get noticed, it worked as she's been racking up the show-biz credits.
 


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I Love (reading about) New York

They say "write what you know" and I take that a step further and "read what I know."  Not every book I read is about a female in New York City, but some are.

"A Walker in the City" by Alfred Kazin - After 38 pages, I gave up on this classic memoir of the author's Brownsville (Brooklyn) childhood. Just couldn't get into it.

"Modern Love" by Leslie Glass - I finished all 276 pages, which seemed like more. Slooowwww. Annie deals with various men, her sister's family's move to perfect domesticity in Connecticut, work issues. Yawn.

"Jury Duty" by Laura Van Wormer - It's a good thing I didn't notice that Van Wormer also wrote "West End" or I might not have picked this out of the pile to read. While the other book was forgettable, "Jury Duty" was riveting. Van Wormer got the details of Manhattan jury service exactly right, and both the court case and personal interactions among the jurors were enthralling.

"The Booster" by Jennifer Solow - "Solow steals the show," says People magazine, and they mean that literally. Jillian Siegel lives to shop and to steal, even though she comes from a wealthy family (so wealthy that... well, I won't give away the story but there's a contrived plot point). She comes to the attention of some pros and gets in deep. It's scary, disturbing, and fascinating.

"Lipstick Jungle" by Candace Bushnell - Your female friends aren't CEOs dating billionaires? Forget the implausibility and get lost in the luxe settings. This doesn't pretend to be great literature, and there's enough plot to keep it moving.

"Bicoastal Babe" by Cynthia Langston - Next to New York City, evil Hollywood is my setting of choice, and this book has both. Lindsey gets paid to alternate living in NYC and LA and track and write about trends. The job seems amorphous and BS'y, sort of like the one in "Citizen Girl." She juggles men in each location, and deals with evil co-workers. A sequel is rumored - can't wait!