Emma Thompson

Content Creation: Your Characters Are Family

This was going to be a review of John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks. I’d read somewhere in the British press after it debuted at the London Film Festival that it was the one to beat, that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In reality it’s simply the most obvious chunk of Oscar bait this season, so much so it’s a caricature of an Oscar-bait film. In this respect it is meta, but I doubt deliberately so; children’s author Pamela Travers didn’t want to sell the rights to Mary Poppins to Walt Disney because she was afraid it would be turned into a cartoon. Aaaaaand, violà! Her own life story has been rendered like a diorama at Disneyland,

Jackson Pollock Number 8

Creative Minds: The Necessary Perfection of Mistakes

I can’t remember exactly what trigger the realization I’d made such a colossal mistake, all I know is it hit me suddenly and it was unpleasant. I was on a hike a couple of days ago and my mind was enjoying itself for a change by leapfrogging playfully from topic to topic. Perhaps I was reviewing the piece I wrote the other day about breaking up with your friends, or maybe I was thinking about the principles of Sufism that I discussed in the article. Whatever led up to it, it suddenly dawned on me—no, it was more like a flood beam

Charles Cullen

Love Is… Never Resenting Success

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.” — Gore Vidal

I’ve always thought that quotation summed up Vidal to be what he was: as a bitter old queen’s bitter old queen. I was reminded of his words the other day when I had a brief private chat on Facebook with my friend Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse, an investigative book about the most prolific serial killer in history, Charles Cullen, which was released last week and entered at number fourteen on The New York Times non-fiction bestseller list. After his appearance on a 60 Minutes special on Sunday, as well as Charlie Rose,

Unequal Opportunity Offender

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | THE INDIA FILES

by James Killough

Let me immediately state that, despite the title, there will be no borderline pornographic body parts in this post.  But just the fact I have willfully boxed PFC into a corner where I have to make that caveat is relevant to this article.  I think.

First, take a look at this viral video currently eliciting belly laughs across the Interweb:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IYeETAVsQA&w=425&h=349]

It’s a fake, of course.  The bride sort of gives it away, but the drunk woman herself is also too alert; her face lacks the woozy, careless expression of someone who is no longer in control of her actions.  In a way — in a convoluted, forced association sort of way — the video is representative of what I’ve been doing with the content of this blog.

The Joy of Stalking

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES

by James Killough

Alan Cumming has a new site up dedicated to obsessions, itsasickness.com.  I would say it celebrates passions more than obsessions in the truest sense of the word, and I am hanging on the truest sense because the site does have “sickness” in its title.  And sick obsession reminds of the time I went truly mentally ill and stalked a former lover.

Knowing Alan as I do, he probably means sickness as in the recent colloquialism “That is so sick,” like it’s a really good thing.  In the video up on the site right now, Zoe Kravitz is obsessed with a green dragon plushie costume, with how it makes her feel empowered.  This isn’t my particular experience of people obsessed with plushie.  The plushophiles I’ve met are rather lovable, extreme introverts who like to dress up as cartoon characters and have kinky sex.

Zoe Kravitz vogues plushophile lite in Williamsburg for itsasickness.com.

I had a brush with plushophilia and diaper fetishists back in the early Noughties through a friend, Gene, who also had extreme social anxiety disorder (SAD).  Gene was one of a trio of people who would trigger the mnemonic that gave rise to my play Hatter, the film version of which Alan Cumming has been attached to, just so you follow my meandering train of thought.  Gene had some hilarious stories about “furries”

The Circumstantial Exile

How crunchy delicious does "The Borgias" look? It's gonna kick the shit out of "Tudors," I reckon.

BLOGIRADE

by James Killough

Tomorrow will be the season finale of Californication, after which I shall willingly slip into watching Nurse Jackie and less willingly United States of Tara; I find most of Tara’s personas to be more annoying than she does, and I don’t believe her husband loves her so much to put up with that. I’m really psyched about The Borgias.  Jeremy Irons’ voice makes me regret I don’t smoke any more.  He sounds like a total industrial accident.  So glamorous.

I’m going to discuss Californication and its plot, so if you don’t want to read further, please don’t make me say SPOILER ALERT, a term that is equally as annoying as “blog” or “hater.”

The basic story line over four seasons so far: a sexy, rakish writer, Hank Moody (David Duchovny), moved with his girlfriend, Karen (Natascha McElhone), and their daughter, Becca, from New York to Venice Beach in Los Angeles because they were adapting a book of his for the screen.  Hank is deeply in love with Karen, but can’t stay out of trouble much less out of other women’s pussies.  Many, many other women’s pussies.  Snatch is thrown at him like roses at an opera singer.  Hank is basically the wet dream/pet project of almost every male producer in LA I have ever met: the Casanova character: talented, louche, up to his eyeballs in cooch despite himself, chased by the law for things he did but weren’t really his fault.  This is the reason 90% of these guys get into film to begin with: to get laid.  A lot.  And all they end up with is three simultaneous alimonies and a litany of crap on their filmographies.

Duchovny is good at this because he is entirely believable and sympathetic; apparently he checked himself into sex addiction rehab a couple of years ago, so the role of Hank isn’t a stretch for him.  Even better than Duchovny, and someone I would give a molar or two to work with, is Natascha McElhone.  What a revelation she is, and so beautiful to look at.

What An Owl I Am

BLOGIRADE | THE INDIA FILES

by James Killough

It turns out I spoke too soon about Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey.  By the season finale, she’s had more comeuppance than she deserved, and she’s managed to move from super bitch to sympathetic heroine.  I have to hand it to show creator and writer Julian Fellowes: superb job on the old character arc, there, dear chap.

Regardless of what happens outside the house, what is at the center of Downton Abbey is the dynamic between servants and their masters, which is always the basis for shows like this, that intricate Upstairs, Downstairs relationship drama, a perverse master-slave relationship that can be seen as a microculture of the whole employer/employee, ruler/subject dynamic of the world at large.

Servants and masters from "Downton Abbey." Very much like a small corporation.

I grew up with live-in “staff” or “help,” or whatever euphemism works best to chase away the sour taste of having to use the word “servant.”  And it’s correct to use a euphemism in our case because they weren’t servants as the term denotes in a Downton Abbey way.  They really were there to just to help the family, and were treated in as egalitarian a fashion as possible, except for the fact they slept in the servant’s quarters near the kitchen where the laundry was drying, they never ate with us, they called my parents “sir” and “madam,” served us dinner from the left, cleared the plates from the right…. Well, I suppose we did our best not to have servants despite evidence to the contrary.

Just Shoot The Bitch, Already

Very aptly, I am the son of a Mad Man.  In the 60s and 70s, my father was with one of the larger ad agencies that are referred to from time to time in the dialogue of Mad Men.  He accepted a position to head up the Italian operations of that agency, the purview of which was expanded over time, but we the family were based in Rome while he traveled around.  The real reason we were there is probably because the US was afraid to lose Italy and France to the communists during the 70s, so we sent some of our “businessmen” over there to help bolster the interests of democracy.  If I were in a pitch meeting and had to do a mash up of references to describe Dad, it would be Mad Men meets The Good Shepherd.

If Dad has a quibble with the authenticity of "Mad Men," my only problem with "The Good Shepherd" is the women in my world just didn't look like that, which means it was eerily real.

I won’t delve too much into The Good Shepherd aspect because much of it is conjecture, albeit conjecture based on high probability.  Dad has expressed a desire in this last chapter of his life to tell me his story, and I would like him to feel free to do so without fearing that it’s going to end up in a blog side by side with some willfully salacious anecdote that involves sodomy, haute couture and Class A drugs.  Suffice it to say, there is a reason the period we lived in Rome is referred to as the anni di piombo, “the years of lead,” referring to the flying bullets and the bombings that seemed to be a part of our daily lives.  After we left in ’79, things calmed down in Italy considerably.  Hopefully that was just a coincidence.