Movie Breaks

No, I haven’t gone all TMZ on you. I’m aware that the winter meetings are kicking off in Vegas. But since I have absolutely no control over what happens there, I might as well take a break for some movies.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival starts at the end of next month and it’s a big deal here in town – sort of a mini-Sundance. It lasts for two weeks and everybody sees tons of movies and hears actors talk about their work. Last year, for example, we had Angelina Jolie (accompanied by Brad) discussing “A Mighty Heart.” We also had Javier Bardem, who cracked jokes about making “No Country for Old Men” with the Coen brothers.
Grrrr. Such a sexy beast.
The year before, we had Helen Mirren, who ended up winning the best actress Oscar for “The Queen.”
Veddy veddy proper lady – until she admitted that she quite enjoys playing nude scenes.
And Will Smith and his wife Jada were on hand so he could tell us about “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
Don’t they look like a loving couple? Either that or they’re….acting.
This year, we’re getting Penelope Cruz and Clint Eastwood, among many others, and I’ll be sitting in the front row for every event.
O.K. I’m lying about the front row. I’ll be lucky if I can see anything from way up in the balcony, but it’ll be fun just the same.
In advance of the Festival, the studios send prints of their films that are in contention for awards and we get to screen them.
Recent screenings have included “Doubt,” “Milk,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Before that, I saw “Body of Lies,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “The Changeling,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” and the French film “I’ve Loved You So Long.” My favorites of those? “Frost/Nixon” and “Vicky Christina Barcelona.”
This weekend, I saw two more films. The first was “The Reader” starring Kate Winslet.
Interesting shoes if you like dog collars.
It opens January 9th and co-stars Ralph Fiennes. Set in post WW II Germany, it’s based on the bestselling novel and Oprah pick. Here’s the setup: Ten years after his affair with a mysterious older woman, a law student discovers she’s a defendant in a war crimes trial. It’s not a Holocaust story; it’s more about the generation of Germans dealing with its aftermath. Very compelling. I bet Kate gets an Oscar nom.
The other movie was “Frozen River” starring Melissa Leo. Remember her as Detective Kay Howard on “Homicide?”
It’s an indie flick that was shot in, like, 20 days for hardly any money, and it takes place in a border town on the Mohawk reservation, somewhere between New York State and Quebec. Melissa’s character is drawn into the smuggling of illegal aliens in order to feed her kids. It’s winning all kinds of pre-Oscar awards. It certainly opened my eyes to the problems of Native Americans.
Here are the trailers for both films in case anyone else needs a break from speculating about which free agent will land where. (Come on, Cee Cee. Sign already.)


  1. levelboss

    wow Kate Winslet looks great! and even those dog-collar shoes look nice on her..

    so when are you gonna sell the rights to your book for a movie-deal, Jane?

  2. Jane Heller

    I wish I knew, levelboss. My agent says that the movie business is in a state of paralysis, just like the book business. Thanks to the economy, the layoffs, the pending strike, it’s tough to sell Hollywood on a book about a woman and a baseball team. BUT she thinks once the book actually comes out and producers start to think about baseball in the spring, we’ll have more activity. Hope so!

  3. Elizabeth D

    I definitely want to see Frost/Nixon… I’m also interested in seeing The Spirit (I love Frank Miller), and Valkyrie. “Dog collar shoes” LOL… I needed a break from the whole free agent craze too today, plus… not much to write about. I’m hoping the Winter Meetings will bring a lot of interesting rumors up… actually I don’t need to hope, I’m pretty sure they will.

  4. Jane Heller

    I’m pretty sure they will too, Elizabeth. I have a feeling that when I wake up tomorrow am, everybody on the east coast will know something I don’t!

  5. PAUL

    Kate Winslet’s another one who spent years going on and on about how she’s not gonna give in to the Hollywood requirement to look a certain way and conform, and there she is on the cover of magazines and showing up at awards shows all glammed up and…conforming.
    Did you see “Burn After Reading”? It was pretty funny. My fiancee especially enjoyed the machine George Clooney constructed.

  6. juliasrants

    Frost/Nixon is on my list. In high school I wrote a “great” (!) paper on Watergate and my elementary school actually had TVs on during school so we could watch the Watergate Trials! (okay I’m dating myself – but it was upper elementay!) That’s what got me hooked on politics. Thanks for keeping us distracted during this time of non-action in the baseball world.


  7. steve_t

    Jane, you obviously have great taste, following your kudos for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Mr. Woody Allen may not be everyone’s favorite actor and his direction can, on occasion, be a bit choppy, but the one thing he’s always done well is write.

    Steve T.

  8. Jane Heller

    I did see “Burn After Reading,” Paul. I thought Brad Pitt was hilarious as the dim bulb gym rat. It wasn’t my favorite Coen Bros movie, but it was fun. As for Kate Winslet, go see her in “The Reader.” She’s the opposite of glam.

    “Frost/Nixon” is definitely worth your time, Julia, especially if you remember the hearings on TV as do I. I was riveted by them and sometimes would watch the repeats at night.

    You’re right about Woody, Steve. Wonderful writer. (Have you read his humor pieces in The New Yorker? Hilarious.) “Vicky…” was lots of fun, especially compared to the previous couple of movies, which were sort of gloomy.

    LOL that “Prince Caspian” took your mind off the Peavy situation, Kaybee. We all need something to distract us from whatever is or isn’t going on in Vegas right now.



    I’m looking forward to seeing “Melk,” but I can’t imagine Sean Penn playing him. Can Penn switch-hit? How’s his accent? Does he have the arm?

    el duque

  10. Jane Heller

    I wouldn’t cast Sean Penn in “Melk,” duque. I’d go with Jamie Foxx. He’s a little old, but he could probably dance like Melky.

  11. Jane Heller

    You got me, Jeff. The truth is, I wasn’t at the movies this weekend. I’ve been in Vegas, posing as a member of the housekeeping staff at the Bellagio. You can’t believe what I’m hearing while I pretend to vacuum. (“Valkyrie?” It’s supposed to be a turkey.)


    I think I need to start working on the script to the Respect Jeter’s Gangster movie. I already have the actors in mind, I just need to write a story to bring it all together.

    That Frost/Nixon movie does look interesting. I don’t think I’ll see it in the theaters but definetely a rental.

  13. Jane Heller

    The Respect Jeter’s Gangster movie should star the Jonas brothers. (Just kidding.)

    Maybe it’s not a turkey, Jeff, and the early rumors about it are just wrong. If Tom Cruise were here he’d probably call me glib!

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