Movies This Week, “Twilight” and “The Reader”, National Geographic Channel’s “Devil’s Bible”, Director Dropped from “Twilight” Sequel, and more…
Movies This Week.
I saw 4 movies on Monday, one on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Nothing Like the Holidays” (YES)
“4 Christmases” (YES)
“7 Pounds” (YES),
“The Reader” (YES)
“The Day The Earth Stood Still in IMAX (YES)
You don’t have to be a teenage girl to know Robert Pattinson is the sexiest heartthrob to emerge on screen since J.D. jumped on Thelma’s bed.
I know plenty of vampires (and I do not mean those silly “Psychic Vampires”). They are the men and women who draw blood all day, every day, working in doctor’s offices and medical labs. They know blood. I have my own blood extractor. I’ve become addicted to giving blood. My tech uses a very fine needle and never fails to get to the vein the first time. She gives me an extra vial for my own personal use. I need it, I tell her, for my magic spells. She didn’t even flinch. So I recently felt emboldened to ask: “What I really need is the blood of a prostitute.”* She said: “Well, we’re in Las Vegas. It can’t be very hard to find one.” She agreed to keep a vial for me if a prostitute comes in.
Anything can happen in Vegas.
I have an altar to my favorite Brazilian orisha, Exú. Yes, I give tribute to Exú with money, whiskey and cigars. But there is nothing like an offering of one’s own blood.
Anne Rice’s iconic vampires were hard to find aristocrats in Jerry Seinfeld puffy shirts. Alan Ball’s HBO series, based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, are vampire Civil War veterans who have come out in the open when the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional not grant vampire’s their civil rights. Japan created synthetic blood so there is no need to suck the blood of the homeless anymore. I love this series! There is a lot of nudity, Cajun sex, and blood. (Vampires Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) are menacing and barely capable of suppressing their blood hunger.)
Why is there such a huge resurgence of the vampire theme? My capsule psychological opinion is that the obsession with blood goes back to our Reptilian Brain. All religions held blood sacrifice and child sacrifice as a vital, necessary part of worship. Living in the era of AIDS for the past 25 years, we have been made terrified of blood. But it goes against our primal spirit honoring the power and significance of blood. We need, we must have, a relationship, however bizarre, with blood. The AIDS terror kept us horrified that we may come in contact with someone else’s blood. The return of the vampire myth gives us a satisfactory outlet for this primeval need for communion with blood.
Author Stephanie Meyer’s young adult vampire books feature vampires who are gorgeous high school students. I’ve read “Twilight”, “New Moon,” and “Eclipse”. They are poorly written, sloppy, repetitious, but addictively interesting. There is no sex or blood drinking. Vampire Edward Cullen is a 17 year old with an obsessive, loyal and chaste attraction to the lonely new girl in town, Bella (Kristin Stewart). He’s more beautiful than a 20 year old Brad Pitt. He’s got supernatural powers. He can fly.
Bella decides to go live with her police chief father Charlie Swan (Billy Burke) in the cold, gray, foggy Pacific Northwest when her mother marries a young baseball player. Bella feels like an unwelcomed bench sitter.
The Cullens, Edward (Robert Pattinson), Alice (Ashley Greene), Emmett (Kellan Lutz), and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) are four high school students who keep to themselves. When Bella sits next to the brooding, enigmatic gorgeous Edward, in biology class sparks fly. Though not at first, of course.
Edward rescues Bella from sudden death and soon confesses to her that he and his brother and sisters are vampires led by strangely feline Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) and his homemaker wife, Esme (Elizabeth Reaser). The saintly Dr. Cullen has controlled his lust for blood and now “does good” working in the local hospital. His brood of four have learned how to live among humans and not kill them.
The U.S. is infested with vampires, especially a maundering group that stop off in Washington, James (I hope he comes back from the dead dead), Victoria, and Laurent (Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefevre, Edi Gathegi). Jacob (Taylor Lautner) Bella’s new friend, tells her that the local Native Americans have made an unholy truce with the vampires long, long ago.
“Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke has been dropped from the next “Twilight” movie, “New Moon”.
According to Nikki Finke of www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com, “The word from inside Summit is that Hardwicke, the acclaimed Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story director, "was 'difficult' and 'irrational' during the making of Twilight," one insider explains to me. "That doesn't mean anything when you're talking about a filmmaker because they all are, but still..." (Joe Roth and Sony kept saying that about Julie Taymor on Across The Universe. Yet she made a cult classic and is now directing Marvel/Sony's Spider-Man for Broadway.) But an outside source also informs me, "Summit didn't like her. They're saying the DP [director of photography] Elliot Davis is the one responsible for the film's sumptuous visual look, that the editor Nancy Richardson had to save the film in post-production, and Summit thought Hardwicke's [CAA] agent Beth Swofford was alternately ineffectual and hysterical. It certainly demonstrates, while CAA agents boast of their vast influence, how little clout and muscle they actually have, or are willing to use, to protect their artists."
*Required for certain esoteric Tibetan tantric spells.
Winslet is brilliant, fearless and shows other actresses how to play real people without compromising. Kidman (thank you for dropping out of “The Reader”) and Jolie, I’m speaking directly to you. You are movie stars, Winslet is an actress.
The Helmbrechts Death March was 195 miles; Flossenburg to Regensburg Death March: 250 miles; Neuentamme to Sandbostel Death March: 215 miles; Berga to Plauen Death March: 170 miles.
A survivor of the Helmbrechts Death March reported: “We passed through some German town. We asked for food. At first they thought that we were German refugees. The SS man who accompanied us shouted: “Don’t give them [anything] to eat, it’s Jews they are.’ And so I got no food. German children began to throw stones at us.” “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
It was not only German citizens who supported Hitler’s “Final Solution”. Every village in every country Hitler invaded greatly benefited from the elimination of the Jews. While the Germans may have taken valuable art and bank accounts, ordinary people descended upon the property of the Jews. All the possessions of six million Jews were stolen by neighbors. Yet, the Germans have taken sole responsibility for the horror. I don’t think we should ignore the ordinary Europeans, not only Germans, who knew, supported, helped, and benefited from Hitler’s plan to remove all Jews from Europe.
I’m reading for a second time “How Mankind Committed the Ultimate Infamy at Auschwitz: A New History” by Laurence Rees.
“The Reader” is an extraordinary film that only Kate Winslet could star in. What other actress would even consider this terrifying role?
Michael Berg (David Kross) is a 15-year-old suddenly felled by the onset of Scarlet Fever one day after school. He is helped by a mysterious older woman, Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). When he recovers months later, he visits Hanna and they begin an intense sexual affair. Hanna encourages Michael to read to her; in fact, he is required to do so if he wants to make love.
Michael falls passionately in love with Hanna and when she suddenly disappears, she haunts the rest of his life. Eight years later Michael is an honors law student and attending the trial of seven women who worked as guards in the notorious Auschwitz extermination camp. He recognizes one of the women, the guard accused by the others as being the leader, as Hanna. Hanna admits to selecting people for extermination. It was her job. But did she write the order for the burning to death of a group of prisoners?
A survivor of the Dora-Mittelbau camp reported: “One night we stopped near the town of Gardelegen. We lay down in a field and several Germans went to consult about what they should do. They returned with a lot of young people from the Hitler Youth and with members of the police force from the town. They chased us all into a large barn. Since we were 5,000-6,000 people, the wall of the barn collapsed from the pressure of the mass of people, and many of us fled. The Germans poured out petrol and set the barn on fire. Several thousand people were burned alive.” “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
Michael knows something that can save Hanna’s life or, at least, reduce her sentence. Should he come forward and ruin his career goals by giving testimony favorable to Hanna? Directed by Stephen Daldry and written by David Hare from Bernhard Schlink’s novel “The Reader”, it is Winselt who is devastating in the role. Will there be any competition for her for Best Actress of 2008? Daldry brings a realism and beauty to a story not easily told. This is a triumph. Devil’s Bible. My favorite channel, National Geographic Channel had a fascinating show, unraveling the mystery behind the
A forensic investigation of a unique monstrous medieval Bible featuring Satan, demonic exorcisms and ancient medicine. Devil's Bible premiered Sunday, December 14, 2008, at 8 p.m. According to legend, the Codex Gigas (Devil’s Bible) is said to have been written in one night by a condemned 13th century monk who sold his soul to the Devil. It weighs 165 lbs, is 3 feet long in the spine and contains a unique combination of texts, Old and New Testaments, alongside violent spells of demonic exorcisms, medicinal cures and other historical texts.
Most intriguing of all is the bold full-page portrait of the Devil found opposite a depiction of heaven. NGC’s Devil's Bible is a forensic investigation of the largest medieval manuscript in existence.
The NGC special features rare direct access to the Codex as an international team of experts uses ink, illustration and handwriting analyses to come to the astounding conclusion that this one-of-a-kind text was created, not by a team of monastic scribes, but by one singularly dedicated and repentant monk whose exact identity remains a mystery to this day.
The year is 1230. In a remote Bohemian monastery in what is now the Czech Republic, a Benedictine monk broke a sacred monastic rule, a violation so offensive it was kept secret. His punishment was to be walled up alive in a stark cell. In an effort to save himself, the monk promises to do the impossible: to inscribe in one night a massive tome containing all human knowledge that would glorify his monastery forever. Then, in his darkest hour, when he can write no more, he calls upon Satan for help. As the Gospels were guided by the hand of God, legend has it that the Codex was guided by the hand of the Devil.
How long could it have taken to create this virtually perfect manuscript? It is estimated it would have taken 25 to 30 years for one monk to have written and illustrated it!
Finally A Truthful Acceptance Speech.
President of HBO Documentary Films Sheila Nevins didn't want to thank anybody while being honored at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
"After 800 documentaries, who better than I to get this award?" quipped Nevins. "I don't want to thank my parents - my father wanted me to be a nurse and my mother wanted me to nurse her. And I don't want to thank the people who work with me, because it's an 'All About Eve' situation, and I want to keep doing what I'm doing."
Not surprisingly, Nevins has built up a formidable reputation. She's been referred to as the "doyenne," the "De Medici" and the "dominatrix" of documentaries. My favorite HBO documentary series is Brent Owen’s “Hookers”. I now know that it is Nevins I should thank for knowing all about Cindy “The Schoolteacher”.