For Live Oscars Coverage 2015; Follow Me On Twitter!

It’s a known fact; I do some of my ‘best work’ on Twitter. Join me tonight starting at 7pm eastern for Live, up to the minute clever, clever land coverage. I’m not one for making predictions but I will say that I loved JK Simmons jarring performance in Whiplash, I thought Birdman was willllllllllllllldly inventive and while I think a twelve year production deserves to be celebrated, the *actual* narratives in Boyhood didn’t move me. I also was not blown away by the much lauded performance by Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything,” in fact I’m not ga-ga-goo-goo about him as an actor in general. Something about his mouth distracts/bugs me. I’m also an anomaly in that I could barely sit through “The Imitation Game“—and while Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor, FOR me it was not a memorable performance. Perhaps the disconnect to emotion had something to do with it, as Cumberbatch played a character who was a genius savant—and perhaps this is why he DOES deserve the big Oscar prize, the fact that he played it SO WELL! So there you have it…Michael Keaton & JK Simmons for Best Actor & Best Supporting. For everything else I’ll leave it up to the professionals. These are the only performances that I felt were Tour De Force, reaching me deep in my Soul.

Sorry Reece, a long contemplative trek among the foothills does not an Oscar performance make. Anyhoo, PLEASE follow me tonight on TWITTER @ReneeGold1   B-enkl8CIAAl7p0 XOXO

The Pop Culture Rainman™

This is Where I Leave You…the Sequel?


This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I Leave You

I recently watched the ‘dramady’ This is Where I Leave You, the adaptation of Jonathan Troppers New York Times best-selling novel. The premise (in a nut-shell) is about the Altman family—a dysfunctional, disjointed brood (whose isn’t?!) who all regroup for a week to sit Shiva for their father/husband who has just passed away. 

In theory, the Altmans are like a mango-salsa chutney. All have their own complex flavors—yet taste amazing together on a nice piece of fish. *I don’t know what that means either.

First off, it must be noted how much I enjoyed this film! Director Shawn Levy, who is known for money-making box-office wins yet critical acclaim disappointments, really surprised me–specifically the fact that he didn’t insert himself in a cameo, which is somewhat of his calling card. Yes, there were some predictable cliché’s abound, but I thought the cast was exceptional, the story compelling and well-paced. The characters were richly portrayed, all having their own wonderfully supported story arcs. Through multiple episodes where I found myself laughing and bawling (Tina Fey does an excellent fake-cry)—it struck me that this film would make for a great sequel!

Here are some of my ideas in no particular order.

I must admit, I regularly fall into marathon rabbit holes watching Jason Bateman interviews and MovieFone appearances on YouTube, so knowing that Bateman was in this film was an easy sell for me. I thought Jason Bateman’s character as Judd Altman was really interesting despite his penchant for look-alike-brunette Chiksas with barely-there noses.

I think he should return as a single dad—wading through the dating scene and all of the sensitivities that present itself while trying to raise a young daughter. I didn’t think he and Rose Byrnes character had any tangible chemistry, she was really the only character that I didn’t connect with. She does not qualify for a second act. SAWRY.

True Love

True Love

Tina Fey’s character needs to leave her douche-rocket of a husband and return home to be with her one-true-love. Yes, Timothy Olyphant’s character has some minor brain damage and an odd-greyish facial scar—but if he’s good enough to shag, I say he deserves a second chance (whose kidding who, the man is gorgeous!) Both of their parents (who are lesbian lovahs) live in million dollar *spacious* homes, and Olyphants character has a Jay OH Be at the family store, so what’s the problem? They belong together.

Memaw Lovers…

Speaking of the best-girlfriends-turned-lesbian-couple played by the incomparable Jane Fonda and Debra Monk; can we take forever and infinity to discuss how incredible Jane Fonda looks in her mid-70’s? Those Jane Fonda work-out classes (which must be noted she only started in her 40’s) did her body GOOOD! I think the world is ready to see some Grandma on Grandma scissoring (I know I’m not). Show the class what that might look like Mr. Levy!

Baby Lust Problems...

Baby Lust Problems…

And lastly, when it comes to the woman-trying-last-ditch-effort-to-get-pregnant story arc my hope would be to show what that brine of salty disappointment really looks like—long term. Played by Kathryn Hahn with a severe case of baby lust, she and her hubby are trying last-ditch effort pregnancy with the help of some sort of baby-aid injectable, seemingly to no avail.

In the sequel that’s not happening, I hope you will eschew the international adoption play, or the ‘miracle’ baby pregnancy that happens when they stop trying. Instead show the class what it looks like when there is no chance of baby and how that affects a woman’s mental health and the state of her marriage.

Show her at her 53rd baby shower bragging about “how Tony Robbins and Grumpy Cat follow her on Twitter” before she has a full-on melt-down during the opening of “baby prezzies.” She apologetically excuses herself to leave, but not before shoving 20 pink macaroons in her purse, a baby bottle cupcake in her mouth, knocks her head on the chandelier—before making a swift exit.

Chew on that kind of gristle. The world needs to see it.  

Mr. Levy + Mr. Tropper have your people contact my cat sitter? There’s more where this came from, plus I have no ‘people‘.


The Pop Culture Rainman

P.S. If you say Chutney 10x fast, it doesn’t sound like a word (or a delicious easy-to-make garnish) any more.

Spike Jonze; Intergalactic Zeitgeist of our Time

I just finished watching the movie Her, written & directed by Spike Jonze—and it rendered me both speechless *and* ashamed.

Speechless because of how much texture and onion peeled *feel* layers my eyeballs were privy to, and shame for forgetting, nay—obliterating from-memory—what an absolute genius Spike Jonze was/is!?

I grew up on square meals of his incredible music videos, and I thoroughly enjoyed the wacky eccentricity of Being John Malkovich which was Jonze’s first feature film directorial debut. He teamed up again with writer Charlie Kaufman for the film Adaptation which was a visceral delight and so incredibly creative and cerebral.

I recall being super excited about the prospect that Jonze was going to be bringing the ‘adaptation’ of Maurice Sendak’s classic 1963 children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are to the big screen. He also partnered with one of my favorite writers Dave Eggers, to flesh out the script further.

Film Still-Where The Wild Things Are

Film Still-Where The Wild Things Are

That movie felt like it was in production purgatory for a while, and I never got around to seeing it and suppose I fell off his radar shortly before it came out in 2009.

I had forgotten just how much of a creative mastermind Jonze was, someone so ahead of his time—that I’m convinced he’s some sort of time travelling nomad. The only other writer/director that has been remotely similar in terms of risk taking and continuity is Paul Thomas Anderson—someone who also has an incredible knowledge of music in his wake. Anderson had previously directed a couple of ex girlfriend Fiona Apple’s music videos, and he was executive music producer on the soundtracks of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, the latter being one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.

Magnolia Soundtrack. So Dreamy.

Magnolia Soundtrack. So Dreamy.

A lot of contemporary music and art has become utterly lazy in my opinion. The last time that film(s) felt emotionally transformative was during the faze of the Coen Brothers Fargo, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, writer/director Todd Solondz’s Happiness and Sam Mendes American Beautywhich incidentally, all came out around the same time.

HER brings all of that back. All of it.

I must also give a generous nod to the quieter genius of Jonze’s ex-wife Sophia Coppola, both have shared cinematographers and posses a similar poetic aesthetic in their works.

Also, it goes without saying that writing/director duo the Coen Brothers are also exceptional in their own rite(s).

but back to *Spikes*

While I could do without the whole Jackass alliance…correct me if I’m wrong—but who in the English speaking hemisphere has consistently captured the Zeitgeist more than Spike Jonze consistently has in the last 15-20 years? No-one…not-a-one. And that includes his entire portfolio of photography, music videos, commercials, film shorts and features.

Did you know that he was also co-editor of the male oriented counter-part to Sassy magazine Dirt? XOJane‘s very own Jane Pratt hand plucked him!

Jonze was the first Hipster, the first Flash Mobber (Bjork’s, It’s Oh So Quiet)— his visual story telling was head and shoulders above what his peers were putting out—far from the overly expensive + flashy Hype Williams et al budgets. His videos always had a low-fi, cutting edge hipness to them, the story or artful thread always being at the forefront.

He is a bona fide futurist like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and yes, even the great Stephen Hawking. I sincerely hope they all belong to a skulls-like think-tank collective, because whoever they are (aliens, me thinks)—they are light years ahead of all of us. 

Speaking of lights (weak segue I know!) the following are six of my all time favorite Spike Jonze music videos. Watching them with fresh eyes all over again makes me to crawl into his brain & jump around like it were an inflatable bouncy castle.

P.S. I would love nothing more to offer up my thoughts on each video, but I don’t want to be known as the ‘long-read blogger’ (millennial attention spans are hard to come by!) So instead, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section as to which ones are your favorites and why!


WeezerBuddy Holly’-1994 (* I searched high + low for a Youtube video that they would allow me to embed, but no such luck. Please click on the arrow which will lead you to a link. Must Watch! It’s such a feel-good + clever video)

BJörkIt’s Oh So Quiet’-1995

Daft Punk ‘Da Funk’-1995

The Chemical Brothers ‘Elecktrobank’-1997 (*Starring his then girlfriend Sophia Coppola)

Fatboy Slim Praise You’-1999 (*This multi-award winning video reportedly cost only $800 to produce, with most of that money going towards a replacement boombox and food for the cast and crew. It was also shot in just ONE take. This video is missing the fake dance troupe’s extro where Spike Jonze is in character as choreographer Richard Koufey talking about his ‘inspirations’. Find the longer version online, this is the only one I was able to embed)

Weapon of Choice Fatboy Slim 2001 (*Starring the multi-talented Christopher Walken)

**Honorary mention has to go to Beastie Boys Sabotage – 1994an homage to 1970’s crime drama television series. The visual rhythmic cuts to this song are phenomenal.


Jonze’s tour de force Her is nominated for both Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars on March 2nd. He was left out of the Best Director category—an oddity for someone who is in the running for Best Picture. Let’s hope he takes the Best Original Screenplay! #FingersCrossed!

And remember, it’s my new Glengarry-esque mantra—ABJ Always Be Jonzing!  

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Pop Culture Rainman™