Friday, March 27, 2009

I've been watching Catherine Keener since she played a thirtysomething New Yorker who ends up dating the video store guy (Kevin Corrigan) in Walking and Talking, Nicole Holfcenser's first film, back in the mid-1990's.

If you ever wondered what living in New York is like, it's sort of just like Catherine Keener: cool, smart, not too into itself, prone to little emotional disasters, and ultimately a bit of a closet sweetheart.

It's great to see that she has gone on to have a fantastic acting career, because she always fell a little bit in the cracks between the pretty girl (I think the other one in Walking and Talking was Naomi Watts) and wacky sidekick (think Joan Cusack).

Catherine Keener is the pretty, wacky sidekick, and her presence in anything makes it worth checking out.

She has two new flicks coming out: Genova, and Where the Wild Things Are, a popular kid's yarn that Spike Jonze turned into a movie that has freaked out the studio who made it. (More about that later).

The Great Withnail

You can have your Rocky Horror Picture Show, or your Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or any of those long ago films that have gone on to become midnight cult classics (OK, I love Rocky Horror). But for a certain generation of film lovers, one of the greatest cult comedies remains Withnail & I, Bruce Robinson's 1987 British classic about an aspiring actor and writer living the boho life in London, circa 1969.

Starring Richard E. Grant, a British actor who has worked plenty since but never in a role that quite demanded the brilliance that the part of Withnail did, it's a film that I loved. The first 45 minutes or so are just about the funniest 45 minutes of film comedy I've ever seen. The dialogue is great, the tempo spot-on and the little absurdities of London life for the poor, starving artist are abundantly on display--particularly the way the apartments in London don't really have any heat.

Here's Roger Ebert paying tribute to Withnail & I in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Felder Rushing, The Slow Gardener

Some people like their yards to be nothing but a lawn, as manicured as the 12th green at Augusta National.

Others, like North Carolinan (if that's a word) Felder Rushing, have a higher tolerance for a little more variety.

Appropriating the term from the slow food movement, Rushing is preaching slow gardening these days: lo-fi, modest in scale and making use of all sorts of wacky junk most people do not associate with a garden.

He's also a radio host of a show called The Gestalt Gardener on National Public Radio.

As you get older, the world sometimes seems to be divided between organized and disorganized people, and the organized people get all the year-end bonuses, (at least they did until year-end bonuses became little acts of economic treason).

Nice to see there's a third way: slow.