It's dress-up night at Dex's apartment!
Diva (1981) I think the reason that Jean-Jacques Beineix's stylish, neo-wavey thriller about bootlegged cassette tapes and the people who chase them is so easy to love is that nearly everyone in the movie is an obsessed fan (an obsessed music fan, to be precise), much in the same way and capacity the audience no doubt is - a little bit dreamy and a little bit bad, but for the best of reasons. Frédéric Andréi (who also starred in another classic from the early 80s, The Facts of Life Go to Paris) is Jules, who moons over opera diva Cynthia Hawkins (the elegant Wilhelmenia Fernandez) to the point that he snatches a dress during a premiere performance in gay Paree. One thing manages to lead to the next, of course, in the way that only things can and do in sweet little movies like this: a politically-explosive cassette is slipped into Jules' bag at the train station; the opera singer not only forgives her overeager fan but falls in love with him; and a chance encouter with a sexy teen shoplifter leads to another particularly advantageous meeting with a spacey, cigar-smoking artist. Chock full of fab music, even more fab loft apartments, and a chase through the Paris subway system, Diva is exactly what you thought the City of Light was like when you were 20.
Sorry, Haters (2005) While writer-Director Jeff Stanzler's gritty thriller meshes the cultural landscape of post-9/11 New York, the philosophy of collateral damage, and the secret shame of altruism in unexpected ways, it's still much more clumsy and less believable than it should be, especially when it becomes clear how Stanzler intends on bringing those themes together (and then the ick factor should be somewhere in Todd Solodnz territory). While what we get is daring, it never quite comes together like it should, but nevermind that - all of the film's shortcomings are picked up and sorted by Robin Wright Penn, who delievers one of the boldest performances I've seen from an actress in recent memory. If anything, you'll never hear Sonic Youth's 'Bull in the Heather' the same way again.
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) Well, it's a story of love, deception, greed, lust, and unbridled enthusiasm: Scarlett Johannsen continues her slow upward arc towards being a real actress (she does just fine when she has something to do, but she just can't be still otherwise); Eric Bana, who has yet to recapture the spark that made everyone sit up and take notice in Chopper (2000), gets busy with the Boleyn girls, but then gets all broody. Natalie - sweet, sweet Natalie - pouts and flirts and cries and acts up a storm.
I didn't give a shit about Henry, King of the Whopper or the Boleyn Girls before I saw this, and I don't now. That said, the film isn't all that bad, and both Johannsen and (especially) Portman look fabulous throughout. What's important, after all, is that I see as many non-Star Wars and/or comic-book-related Natalie Portman movies as I can stand, so when I meet her - yes, when - we'll have lots and lots to talk about.
Wicked, Wicked (1973) A recent feature of Turner Classic Movie's always-incredible TCM Underground, Wicked, Wicked was screened in "duo-vision," or the split-screen shots that Brian DePalma deployed so skillfully in the early sequences of his culty hit Sisters. While DePalma's use of the technique exacerbated tension, Wicked, Wicked writer and director Richard Bare pushes "duo-vision" in this trashy story of hotel dicks, sleazy broads, and Z-grade Tony Perkins-eque sex slashers for an overlong 95 minutes - switching back to full screen for the gross-out scenes - and the gimmick only occasionaly makes up for the stockroom characters, dull plot, and awful script ("That manager of yours - are you makin' out with him?" "Good night, Rick! I don't have to listen to that jazz!"). But maybe that was the point. Even still, Wicked, Wicked is so brazenly, cheerfully dumb that there's at least 70 minutes of fun.