filmmaven's coffee chat

a morning discussion of film and popular culture over coffee


February 2015

Good Morning Java, a brief introduction and am I the only one that loves winter?

Good Morning Java, a brief introduction and am I the only one that loves winter?.


Directors ….do we need them or are they just set decor?

Directors ….do we need them or are they just set decor?.

Directors ….do we need them or are they just set decor?

Good Morning to my second day on WordPress……I’m finding it easy to manage and so far have not had any urges to hit my computer or throw anything across the room …not that I have anger issue only that I’ve grown weary of sites that over complicate the ‘hidden curriculum” …okay maybe its true, I am old (er) and have some issues with patience.

I realize since I shared my large bag of Guatemalan bean story I won’t have a lot of variation for quite awhile in the coffee part of our chat…but always know that as I ramble it is at least 47.33% caffeine induced. Suffice it to say my deep green art pottery mug is warm with fresh coffee, a splash of of vanilla, two splashes of cinnamon, and a dash of Sweet Cream.

Directors get our attention when they come across the screen as a major part of the film. We often seek them out, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, or avoid them as with Michael Bay. With the wide jump to American independent film directors become truly entwined in the films and its their personality as writers and directors that grab ahold of the story and setting. Showing the audience what feels like a secret glimpse into the dark deep places of their minds. After a few films, we feel collectively as if  we know them and become a part of a secret club. (that’s not just me right?) ……So I give you here a few directors and their films who are not just directing but maintain a thread through out the story telling and even when their style becomes evident we can’t wait for that next story.

Jim Jarmusch as with most of the directors I will talk about is best watched chronologically. So while I am not sharing those first films I do recommend if you haven’t seen anything by him to start at the beginning. For now I will simply mention my two favorites which I periodically have to watch again. “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” and “Mystery Train” are so vastly different and yet, of course, so adamantly Jim Jarmusch. Quiet, thoughtful, full of music and walking; these stories take you on a ride. You are the passenger in the character’s pocket. Its so intimate and affectionate as you go on the adventure with them and yet, you have no idea what they are really thinking or how they will get out of this loop in their lives.

Susan Seidelman if I made lists, Ms.Seidelman would have to be in my top ten favorite directors simply for “Smithereens”. For many obvious reasons I connect greatly with her characters but that is another story all together….for now, “Suddenly Seeking Susan” is one of Rosanna Arquette’s greatest roles and I often wondered which part of Susan or Susan (Roberta) was more like the director. Watch for the clothes alone this film is eighties all over but find some of those subtleties presented ….oh and a peek at Lauri Metcalf as the nosy sister n law is hilarious! “Gaudi Afternoon” based on a mystery novel is cute and sweetly done but shows some of the gorgeous Gaudi buildings and parks in Barcelona…Its not one that shares insights into the director other than to show her adaptation of story and use of scenery hold back some of  the short falls of the characterizations.

Robert Rodriquez covers all aspects of filmmaking with what seems like effortless ease ….He jumps from Indie low budget to partnerships with the king of IndieTarrintino for horror and clever dialogue to block buster events like “Spy Kids” and “Sin City”. Yet it is those home movies and independent gems that give the audience a tiny peek into his world views. When an independent film is captured by a large audience and whipped up into a major film with a moderately big star I generally have no hope for it to be worth watching. Rodriguez is definitely a writer/director that crosses several boundaries and always maintains himself as a force within the system. From “El Mariachi”  to “Machete” the movement, sound and thrills all settle on Robert Rodriguez in style and visualization. His first work is short, cheap and dusty but such a fun ride. His latest work is large, monied and not as dusty ..but always fun and filled to the brim.

…some real life couples and movies …

Courtney Vance and Angela Bassett 

The Preacher’s Wife” — Courtney Vance was perfect for his role in this 1996 remake as the quiet distracted Preacher usurped in his wife’s affections by the dashing Denzel Washington. I just found this film too normal, too steady … might have been interesting if they had used Denzel as the husband …but its really worth watching and I give a big kudos to Courtney for holding his own against the STARS of this movie.

Angela ..well… one can discount her as the only woman who could pull off playing Anna Mae in “What’s Love got to do with it” The woman was a powerhouse from the first frame and moved easily around the beginnings as struggling artists to the last toss of that wild hair …while I have enjoyed all of Ms.Bassett’s roles, this one just stands out for me as a pinnacle of her strength.

Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres 

I adore Gina Torres and her work in “Dark Angel” “Firefly” and “Angel” three of my all time favorite television shows – I cringe hated her as Jasmine and wanted the gang to take her out in huge action drama. Then I liked her just a smidge more when I found out she was married to Larry Fishburne…I don’t know what it is but they make such a great power couple! So for Gina, I full heartedly suggest anyone would love watching “Firefly” you don’t have to be a Whedon fan or even a sci fi geek to love it.

“Othello” I’m sure most everyone has seen “Matrix” and maybe even the sequels..but for Laurence Fishburne I’m going to suggest watching this 1995 film …its just an amazingly well done version. Now some may shift around about Shakespeare and maybe find the language an issue…but if you are a Fishburne fan or a film nerd give it a try. Fishburne smolders with emotion and carries passion and obsession around like its a weight he thrills to have in his life. oh, I just talked myself into watching it.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner 

I am not a huge Ben Affleck fan …but …(haha) when you are a Kevin Smith fan you just have to go with the flow here…..”Chasing Amy” and “Mallrats” or “Gone Baby Gone”  are the reasons Ben Affleck is okay with me…You have to watch Kevin Smith films in order if you are a movie geek ..but if you are watching for Ben, any which way will be fine. I personally like him as a director and find his mood, scenery and pacing to bring an otherwise TV movie type story into good filmmaking. “Gone Baby Gone” the 2007 film starring his brother Casey is eerie and the rest of the terrific cast (including Ed Harris and Michael K. Williams) make this an interesting film to watch as the mystery plays out through a very character driven film.

“Invention of Lying” (2009) While Jennifer is often cute and reliable, her character in this film is quirky and its fun to see her sort of break that good girl romantic romp character into silly and somewhat naughty. A really off the beaten path film that does preach a little too much ( tee hee fun pun) but does a great job creating the world of honesty and its problems. Of course you have to find out what happens but it does take an odd lull as the last third of the film doesn’t find its way to the wrap up with the same energy as the first portion.

Have a favorite movie real life couple? Share!!

Good Morning Java, a brief introduction and am I the only one that loves winter?

I recently found myself munching on free snacks at a huge box store, wandering isles I don’t normally bother with and discovered …Coffee ….an entire half isle dedicated to my favorite drink. I don’t mind admitting that I had a “Moscow on the Hudson” moment every time I walk in the main doors ….but this …this was …it was a Cary Grant swooning moment for sure …..As soon as I started talking to myself and stuttering out loud some inner salvation instinct kicked in and I grabbed the prettiest bag near me and fled to the checkout lane.

So here I am on this new adventure with you to write about film and casually have a morning chat over coffee with the deliriously delicious beans from Guatemala… the request of my coffee drinking partner who likes a pot going all day I am currently using a Mr. Coffee…which is fine ..but I will rant more on that another time ….for now I will say that these freshly ground beans swirled with a bit of cream are distracting me from the point of this blathering …which is to somehow introduce myself and my need to write and hopefully chat with you ……

Its a moderately cold and snowy winter here in Detroit (Michigan). With only one major snow storm (of 15 inches) and a few days below zero I really have no excuse for staying indoors. Yet, the coffee is hot and the availability of films and tv is mind numbingly wonderful. I’m waiting patiently for the mid-late-early-feb episode of “Walking Dead” and can’t wait for “Game of Thrones” to start. I think this tells you a lot about me – I write because I have to, the demons won’t get out of my brain unless the words rattle on the page …..My taste’s are eclectic and my opinions are too oft not on track with most….but that’s okay since I’m also always right and persuasive (or did I mean argumentative?).

For anyone who catches this …..Please drop a note – I want to know your favorite film, your favorite book and if you mention more than 5 of each we might become best friends.

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