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"There is a charge/ For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge/ For the hearing of my heart." —Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazurus" There’s a certain irony to movie stars earning more for several months of work portraying poets than most poets actually earn over their lifetimes. Nevertheless, exactly 40 years after her suicide, one can go screen director Christine Jeffs’s Sylvia, the story of the Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath drama for $10, give or take the price of popcorn.

Bubba Ho-Tep

"Why didn’t fame hold off old age and death?" Bubba Ho-Tep is a classic B-movie—low-budget, sensational, absurd, laden with subtext, and mind-boggling. Beloved cult actor Bruce Campbell (of the Evil Dead movies and TV’s Xena: Warrior Princess) plays an aging Elvis, one who faked his death, worked as an Elvis impersonator for decades, and now resides in Shady Rest, a dreary retirement home in the bowels of East Texas, where of course no one believes who he is. This Elvis is full of remorse: about the costs of fame, his inability to deal with his life, his drug use, and having abandoned his wife and only child.

Charlotte Rampling

Actress Charlotte Rampling’s cat eyes catch you in their vise. She knows more than she’ll ever let on; she’s seen things she’ll never tell. A glance could hide a sadistic affair; a flicker, a murder. Her angular face is intelligent, subtle. She achieves the maximum with the merest muscle. "She threw me a look I caught in my hip pocket," says Robert Mitchum in Farewell My Lovely (1975) about Rampling’s sizzling femme fatale. In The Night Porter, (1973) Dirk Bogarde says of her, "Those emerald eyes turn to steel within a second." Of course, in that movie Rampling lays a sadomasochistic lover of her former SS commandant.

What’s So Funny: The Schtick of Bill Murray and Jack Black

There’s a reason comedic actors generally don’t win Oscars— and it’s not just because the Oscars are pure mishegos. A lot of comedic actors are funny at the expense of truly inhabiting a part. And when they do try to "act seriously," they take on a forced quality, a knitted brow—à la Jim Carey or Robin Williams—that signals "I am actor, hear me roar." (Although, sadly, Williams did win an Oscar for his "serious" role as the shrink with the crap Boston accent in Good Will Hunting).

A Festival Pops Up in Brooklyn

Underground cinema, by its nature, is not produced to sell or jockey for minor Hollywood directorial roles. Rather, it is born straight from the bizarre, brilliant, and sometimes twisted minds that are able to get their hands on a camera and editing system.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2003

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