Happy New Year (2023) & Life Update

Hey wonderful readers,

Can y’all believe this blog started 15 yrs ago (when I was still in my 20s)!? Whoa… Also, it has been almost 3 yrs since the COVID-19 pandemic began (March 13, 2020). I even lost my pandemic weight (12 lbs.) in 2.5 mos- YAY! I got another vaccine (bivalent booster) in mid-NOV 2022. Are some of you continuing to work from home (WFH)? My team voted to ALL do WFH; a few had been doing the hybrid work. We met for lunch (OCT 2022); it was V nice to see some of work team (esp. those who were hired in the middle of the pandemic).

Are you more comfortable being social (indoors)? I’ve been out in the past 4 mos. for a few events, mainly b-days of friends. I went to Arizona (Scottsdale) for Thanksgiving; my nephews are growing up SO fast (and looking cute, as always)! As I noted before, I was at the Noir City DC film fest (OCT 2022) in AFI Silver Spring (my neighborhood). Going to new movies about 2x/mo. (as I did for several yrs.) is NOT common anymore! Since 2019, I’ve noticed that MANY new movies have a (short) theatrical release, then go over to a streaming service. What is your fave streaming service?

You can follow me on IG and Twitter at knightleyemma. On IG, I’ve posted mostly re: beauty and food (in the past), BUT am branching off into other topics. Lately, I tweet (or retweet) re: Adam Driver’s work and related matters. The actor was shooting Megalopolis in Atlanta before the Christmas holidays; this is a movie dir. (and financed) by Francis Ford Coppola. The trailer for 65 (a sci-fi movie out in March 2023) was released recently, so do check that out (below). There will be a new podcast out soon re: Driver’s work.

Thanks for reading, subscribing to, and sharing my blog!

Best wishes,

Emma.

UPCOMING REVIEWS (2022 Releases):

Everything Everywhere All at Once (rent: Amazon Prime)

See How They Run (HBO Max)

The Menu (HBO Max)

White Noise (Netflix)

UPCOMING REVIEWS (Film Noir):

Impact (1949) (rent: Amazon Prime)

Niagara (1953) (rent: Amazon Prime)

Elevator to the Gallows (1958) (HBO Max)

UPCOMING REVIEWS (TV/Streaming Shows):

House of the Dragon (all eps NOT previously covered on blog)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (S4 & S5; Amazon Prime: Paramount+ Channel)

The White Lotus (S1 & S2: HBO Max)

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

Doctor Who (S6; HBO Max): Starring Matt Smith (recently on House of the Dragon).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (S6): 2nd re-watch of this season.

Trailer for “65” starring Adam Driver

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis” in Peril Amid Ballooning Budget, Crew Exodus (Exclusive): https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-features/francis-ford-coppolas-megalopolis-in-peril-1235284875/

Francis Ford Coppola: No Truth To Apocalypse On “Megalopolis” (includes response from Driver): https://deadline.com/2023/01/francis-ford-coppola-no-truth-to-apocalypse-on-megalopolis-1235216222/

#Noirvember: Films from Noir City DC (OCT 2022)

This year was my 2nd time attending the Noir City DC Film Festival at AFI Silver Theatre (here in my current neighborhood- Silver Spring, MD). I ended up seeing 3 movies- one of which I’d never watched before. During the 1st weekend, TMC’s Noir Alley host, Eddie Muller, introduced the films. I bought Eddie’s book on the behind-the-scenes story of Gun Crazy (1950).

All the King’s Men starring Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanna Dru, John Derek, & Mercedes McCambridge

Jack Burden (John Ireland) is a newspaper reporter who hears of Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) when his editor sends him to Kanoma County to cover the man. What’s SO special about this “nobody” running for county treasurer? He’s supposedly an honest man! Burden discovers this to be true when he sees Willie delivering a speech and having his son pass out handbills, while local politicians intimidate him. Willie is honest and brave; he’s also a “hick” whose schoolteacher wife educated him at home. He loses the race for treasurer, BUT later makes his way through law school. He becomes an (idealistic) attorney who fights for what is good. Someone in the governor’s office remembers Willie, when they need a patsy to run against the govermor and split the vote of his rival. While these (wiser/experienced) political types underestimate Stark, Burden (who becomes Stark’s biggest supporter) overestimates the man’s idealism.

I’d never seen this movie before; it will esp. interest those of you who follow politics. Here we find some of the same themes as in A Face in the Crowd (1957)- a must-see for fans of classics. After living through the Trump presidency, you’ll (no doubt) find comparisons aplenty! The basis of this movie is a Pulitzer-winning novel, All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren; the book was loosely based on the life of a Louisiana politician- Huey Long. The screenwriter/director, Robert Rossen, also worked on Body and Soul (1947) and The Hustler (1961). Ireland reminded me a BIT of Henry Fonda w/ his looks. This is the 1st movie role for McCambridge; she makes a big impression as a tough/unapologetic political operator. Dru is NOT able to convey deep emotion, so in several moments, she dramatically turn away from the camera. Crawford, known for playing mostly “heavy” (tough guy) roles, seems to inhabit his role here. Both Crawford and McCambridge won Oscars for their work!

A Place in the Sun (1951) starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, & Shelley Winters

A chance meeting w/ his uncle after his father’s passing leads to George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) being caught in the middle of two worlds and NOT truly belonging in either one. The son of poor Christian missionaries, George meets his wealthy (paternal) uncle, Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes), while working as a bellhop in his uncle’s hotel in Chicago. Wanting a better life for himself, George takes his uncle up on his offer for a job in one of the Eastman factories in California. Under his cousin Earl’s directive, George is placed on the factory assembly line. George sees this position as a stepping stone to something better, which he’s willing to work hard to achieve. Feeling lonely, George breaks the rule of no fraternization when he starts dating a fellow assembly-line worker, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). Several months later, Mr. Eastman suddenly promotes George professionally and personally. Although he’s NOT used to high society, George is soon befriended by beautiful/young socialite, Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor- then just 18 y.o.)

Quite a big audience was present to watch this film; it’s a classic and that stands the test of time. I watched it (w/ my family) as a kid. Mike Nichols said this film was his favorite; the filmmaker watched it 50+ times! Nichols noted that it also influenced how he directed his 1st movie- The Graduate (1967). The director of A Place in the Sun, George Stevens, was one of the most respected/prolific of his era. He came up through the Hollywood studio system, working as a stills photographer, then as a cinematographer. Stevens directed MANY critically-acclaimed/well-loved films, incl. Alice Adams (V early in Katharine Hepburn’s career), Woman of the Year (teaming up Spencer Tracy w/ Hepburn), The More the Merrier (a fun/early rom com), Shane (considered one of the best Westerns), and the epic family drama Giant (also w/ Taylor). The source novel for this movie, An American Tragedy, was written by Theodore Dreiser; it’s based on a true story. The book was adapted into a play by Patrick Kearney. The screenplay was written by Michael Wilson; he also worked on The Bridge on the River Kwai and Laurence of Arabia.

In 1991, this movie was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. One critic wrote that this film represents America, where people are NOT satisfied w/ what they have, BUT always looking for something better. Another critic pointed out the connection shown btwn social class and desirability. The costumes, set design, editing, music/sound, directing, and acting ALL combine to make this an effective (and affecting) story. The director makes some great choices, incl. those memorable close-ups of two of the hottest actors to appear in film. In one pivotal scene, George embraces and speaks reassuringly to Alice, BUT Clift’s body is hidden from the camera. When George and Angela interact, she is often shown in the power position (as a male love interest). Notice their embrace on the balcony, where Clift hunches down and enfolds himself tightly in Taylor’s arms. At the lake, Taylor is sitting up w/ Clift laying his head down in her lap. In the end, did you think that George was a victim of circumstance or a calculating villain?

He would discuss the scene, but not the lines, and would photograph the second or third rehearsal so the scene had an almost improvisatory quality. Stevens would print the first take, then spend the next three hours minutely rehearsing the scene, then film it again. He explained to me that in this way he often got actors’ unplanned reactions that were spontaneous and human and often exactly right. And often when actors overintellectualize or plan their reactions, they aren’t as good. -Winters, describing Stevens’ way of directing

…because Monty was the New York stage actor, and I felt very much the inadequate teenage Hollywood sort of puppet that had just worn pretty clothes and hadn’t really acted except with horses and dogs. -Taylor, on feeling intimidated to act w/ Clift (before they became the best of friends)

Body and Soul (1947) starring John Garfield & Lili Palmer

Charley Davis (John Garfield) wins an amateur boxing match and is hailed as a local wonder. He meets a young woman, Peg (Lili Palmer), the winner of a beauty pageant. Peg lives in the West Village of NYC and is studying to be painter. The young men of Charley’s Lower East Side (LES) neighborhood are mostly jobless; some are looking to make some quick money. Charley’s friend, Shorty (Joseph Pevney- later director of many eps of Star Trek), tries to get the attention of a boxing promoter, Quinn (William Conrad), when he comes to the local pool hall. Suddenly, Charley’s father is killed in a bombing of his small candy store! Charley’s mother, Anna (Anne Revere), is strongly opposed to him fighting; she wants him to continue w/ night school and become a “professional.” Instead of letting his mother sign-up for “relief” (the precursor to welfare), Charley gets Shorty to set up a fight through Quinn. Charley travels to many states and his career grows, as he keeps winning fights. When an unethical promoter, Roberts (Lloyd Gough), shows an interest in Charley, he finds himself faced w/ difficult choices.

This movie (directed by Robert Rossen) is considered to be the best of Garfield’s short/bright career; the screenplay was written by one of his childhood friends- Abraham Polonsky. This role fits Garfield like a (boxing) glove; he also produced the film. Revere (who is related to that Paul Revere) is perhaps NOT the 1st choice for a Jewish mother, BUT she does good in her role (as usual). Palmer (who is British) and Garfield have good romantic chemistry, BUT her (posh) accent is out of place in the gritty world of the LES. Canada Lee plays Ben, a Black boxer who fights Charley, then becomes one of his trainers/close pals. Lee gets a few meaty scenes (rare for this era for people of color in film); he mainly worked in theater. The cinematographer, James Wong Howe (Chinese-American), filmed the pivotal fight holding the camera while being pushed around the ring by an assistant on roller skates! Martin Scorsese saw this movie as a boy; its influences can be seen in Raging Bull (1980), as some viewers noted.

Happy New Year (2022)!

Hey to ALL my wonderful readers,

Can you believe that it has been almost 22 mos. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 13, 2020)!? A few wks. ago, someone on my Twitter feed wrote: “Your reward for surviving the pandemic is more pandemic” (TOO real- also a BIT funny). My 2nd nephew was born- V cool! I became permanent at my job at GWU (after a long wait). I got a holiday bonus (rare in past jobs). Most importantly, I was able to get vaccinated in a timely manner (and later got the booster); I stayed healthy all year (luckily)! I cut way back on the news after the past Summer; I was a MSNBC watcher for several yrs. I don’t know how I’d have made it through this (crazy) time w/o my neighbors/friends, podcasts, and this blog (which helped me feel less anxious- NO joke).

Thanks for reading, subscribing, and sharing my blog posts!

You can also follow me on IG and/or Twitter: knightleyemma.

-Emma

UPCOMING REVIEWS:

Movies w/ Adam Driver:

Silence (2016)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The Report (2019)

The Last Duel (2021)

Star Trek Universe:

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – This is the final TOS movie.

Star Trek: Voyager (S7) – This is the final season.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (S4-7)

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

And Just Like That… – This is the SATC reboot; 5 eps are available on HBO Max. I’m most interested to see what happens w/ Seema (Sarita Choudhury), who is Carrie’s realtor and new friend.

Girls (S4) – I’m re-watching the series on HBO Max (b/c Driver is part of the ensemble).

Noir City DC Film Fest: “Road House” (1948) & “Desert Fury” (1947)

Hey y’all, thanks for reading (hope you also subscribe)! I missed out on blogging re: movies during #Noirvember (yup- again), BUT am gonna share w/ you the 2 films I saw at a local film fest (at AFI in Silver Spring- a FEW blocks from my place). The best part- I met TCM host Eddie Muller (looking classy and full of funny stories) and got my book (Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir) signed!

Road House (1948) starring Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, & Celeste Holm

Jefty Robbins (Richard Widmark), owner of a roadhouse in a small town (near the Canadian border), hires tough-talking/world-weary Lily Stevens (Ida Lupino- who does her own singing) for a 6 wk. gig, despite the reservations of his manager/best friend, Pete Morgan (Cornell Wilde). Pete even tries to get Lily to go back to Chicago, offering her some money. Jefty is interested in Lily, as she’s “different from other girls.” He brings her breakfast in bed at her hotel. When Pete goes out of town for a fishing trip, Lily turns her charms on Pete, who is resistant. Pete usually dates the roadhouse cashier, Susie Smith (Celeste Holm). Events bring Pete and Lily closer together, until they fall in love. Lily turns down Jefty’s marriage proposal. Then, Pete and Lily have to face Jefty’s intense jealousy!

Susie: She does more without a voice than anybody I’ve ever heard!

Road House was director Jean Negulesco’s 1st film for 20th Century Fox; he had recently been fired by Warnes Bros. Darryl F. Zanuck told him, “This is a bad script. Three directors have refused it. They don’t know what they’re doing, because basically it’s quite good. Remember those pictures we used to make at Warner Bros., with Pat O’Brien and Jimmy Cagney, in which every time the action flagged we staged a fight and every time a man passed a girl she’d adjust her stocking or something, trying to be sexy? That’s the kind of picture we have to have with Road House.”

Not only was Lupino (one of Muller’s faves) a good actress, she also had a head for business (purchasing the rights to the movie for $20K). This film was a year after Widmark played a sadistic killer in Kiss Of Death. As Jefty, Widmark gets to show some of his “regular guy” side, but evolves (or devolves) into a very troubled man. Wilde’s role is as the straight man (which can be dull), but he does a good job. Wilde and Lupino have strong romantic chemistry. Holm gets the (thankless) role of the “girl next door” who’s overlooked, but she handles it well. I really liked the production design on this film; scenes in the roadhouse’s bowling alley were shot at a real alley located near the studio. Check this movie out- it’s one I think MANY will enjoy!

[1] Despite the hole-riddled ending, it’s still worth seeing because of Lupino’s and Widmark’s performances. She is great as the 2nd-rate singer (singing her own songs with a decent but obviously less than stellar voice–which was perfect for the role)… Widmark was interesting because he combined two totally different performances in one film…

[2] “Road House” is an engaging film–noir with a storyline of unrequited love and obsession. Ida Lupino has an impressive performance, singing with a wonderful husky voice. […] This film is also the third appearance of the outstanding Richard Widmark and his insane smile on the cinema. Cornel Wilde and Celeste Holm complete the dream cast of this unknown gem. 8/10

[3] Widmark’s character is by far the most interesting. A little unbalanced at the beginning, he turns crafty and bitter before he loses it altogether. There’s a good deal of pathos in the character.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Desert Fury (1947) starring Lizabeth Scott, John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey, & Mary Astor

Fritzi Haller (Mary Astor) is a powerful casino owner in Chuckawalla, a small town in Nevada. Her 19 y.o. daughter Paula (Lizabeth Scott) has quit school; she returns at the same time as racketeer Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak), who left under suspicion of murdering his wife a few years ago. Paula and Eddie become involved, despite the big age gap and her being warned against him. Fritzi, a deputy/Paula’s friend Tom Hanson (Burt Lancaster) and Eddie’s companion Johnny Ryan (Wendell Corey- his film debut) try to break up the relationship. Then, Eddie’s past catches up w/ him in an unexpected way!

This is the kind of B movie that ONLY a true fan of noir will like (or tolerate)- LOL! Seeing it w/ a audience helped, as did the intro from Muller. The music is unnecessarily dramatic, overpowering some scenes. Fans of this genre MAY be surprised to see Scott as the lead here; she was a limited actress (though V conventionally pretty w/ a distinctive/husky voice). Lancaster (looking esp. handsome w/ his tousled hair and leather jacket) has the straight-shooter role here; Tom (in his late 20s) cares for/is protective of Paula. She doesn’t have many friends in town; other kids stayed away from her b/c of her mother’s profession. The romance between Paula and Eddie isn’t as interesting as the (enigmatic) relationship between Eddie and Johnny. Corey gets a meaty role for his first role; a villain w/ many layers, Johnny is V protective over his friend.

[1] Made in 1947 in perfect glossy Technicolor to distract you from the beserkness and tawdry storyline, this is one terrific exercise in censorship busting antics that managed to fulfill it’s reputation. […] DESERT FURY is genuine queer cinema. With incest hinted, guns and car tire screeching, sinister sunglass wearing and cactus pricks everywhere…

[2] Desert Fury is one of those several films from the studio days where gay was strictly taboo yet it somehow got to the screen. That scene where Corey tells Scott how he met a ragged and hungry Hodiak at the Automat and bought him a meal and took him home sure sounded like a pickup to me. Many from the generation before Stonewall told me that the Horn & Hardart Automat was one of the great pickup places in New York. Romances and flings have started in stranger places. No way that the writers would not have known that. Corey’s devotion to Hodiak can’t be explained any other way as the story unfolds. In fact he’s the stronger of the two.

[3] The best part of Desert Fury is Edith Head’s costumes. Every single scene, Lizabeth and Mary are dressed in gorgeous dresses that will have you oo-ing and ahh-ing for the entire running length. Lizabeth is very pretty in this film, and dressing her up in such beautiful costumes only makes it more fun to watch her, even when she’s exercising bad judgement.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Sephora Spring 2021 VIB Sale (4/9-4/19) Recommendations

Skincare

Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Facial Treatment Essence: A great toner for ALL skin types (I’m combo to oily- FYI). Get mini size to try, or see if part of a skin set (good value). This brand is ONLY at Sephora, not at ULTA (where I mostly shop).

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum: I already like it, though have ONLY been using it for the past 3 mos. I (luckily) found it over at my local TJ Maxx. I’m NOT so knowledgeable re: serums, BUT this works on me!

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40PA+++: Having grown up under the desert sun of AZ, I take sunscreen very seriously! This is a great choice, esp. for those of you who have tan to deep skin tones (leaves no white cast) and/or need a natural-looking sunscreen under makeup.

Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42: Another great SPF choice, if you’re seeking something non-greasy and natural.

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator: I’ve used this 2-3x in the past- need to get one soon. My lips are just in bad shape!

Makeup

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation: I almost couldn’t believe that I used up the bottle in early 2020; I rarely finish my foundations! (FYI: My shade is 300). This MAY be a bit too thick/full-coverage for some, if you’re in hot/humid weather this Summer.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick: These were recently on sale (Sephora and on the brand’s site). I’m all stocked up for myself and gifting! Here are the best colors for those w/ tan skin tones: Spanked (my everyday color), Thicc, Ma’Damn (red), S1ngle (nude), and Freckled Fiesta (terracotta- great for Fall).

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer: If I didn’t have a stack of new lip glosses, I’d get this product again- LOL! I used the original color (Fenty Glow) in 2019; the brownish color (Hot Chocolit) looks fab for tan skin tones.