The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In her latest entry, Sara gives a tour of tacky Hollywood homes, including my favorite — the year-round David house. This house is lined in white statues of David, and for Christmas they all get tiny Santa hats.

Our neighborhood is decorated with lots and lots of lights, prompting stee to buy some lights at Target yesterday. That’s when we learned our house has no exterior electrical outlet. Every day homeownership teaches you something new. (We’ve found a workaround — please no helpful suggestions!) Yesterday I trimmed the… green stuff… out on the front hill, around the parking spot. It looks really good, but even though I wore gloves I’ve got three blisters on my right hand. I’m sure that the rest of this next week will involve me accidentally slamming my shouder into something blunt, burning my wrist while cooking, burning my neck while doing my hair, snapping a fingernail off at the quick while reaching for the remote control, and accidentally getting my face caught in the middle of a Cal/Taylor brawl. Because I’m a pretty, pretty bride.

I wish Sara had snapped a picture of the house a few doors down. They have their roof decorated in rainbow dolphins. I don’t know what religion that one is for, but sign me up.

The wedding to-do list, which was once intimidatingly massive, is now down to less than five items, two of which are just fun and crafty and involve drinking wine and watching screeners. Happy screener season, everybody! This is the joyous time of year when new movies are sent to your home in DVD form for you to watch, judge, criticize and later vote for. Since nobody cares about the Writer’s Guild, we’re usually sent scripts of movies, which blows. Do I want to sit and read Pirates of the Carribean? No. But this year we actually received a couple (Ethan Hawke, get ready for your Writer’s Guild award, because I’m voting for you, you generous man), and one of our friends was lucky enough to land the SAG nominating committee, which means she gets all the movies and is currently being courted by many studios for her vote. And this friend isn’t crazy-greedy with her screeners, and has become like a Blockbuster Video to us over the past two weeks. I love her.

So over the past two weeks, in my house (O Holy Screener), we have watched:

The Motorcycle Diaries— Very good. Oh, man, I’d watch Gael Garcia Bernal eat cereal. He could just come over and chow down on some Honeycomb and I’d give him my entire underwear drawer. Anyway, the movie. First thing we said after it was over: “I need to read more. Why don’t I know anything about anything?”

Bad Education In my Gael Garcia Bernal double-feature, this was the more colorful fim, but not as entertaining. If you’re into film noir about pedophilic priests and drag queens, check it out. But compared to Talk To Her, this was disappointing. First thing we said when it was over: “Wow, that was gay.”

The Door in the Floor — stee loves Jeff Bridges. Like, a lot. Like, we have Jeff Bridges’ photography book. On display. So I borrowed this one for stee, who, after watching it, immediately renamed it Snore in the Floor. I like John Irving, but it’s very difficult to adapt his books for the screen. Irving creates character development through their deviant sexual thoughts. Usually people don’t want to film those deviant sexual thoughts, so they skip that part and you’re watching the movie going, “Wait. Why did those two people start sleeping together?” Also I think Kim Basinger is a boring talker. When she speaks, I get sleepy. I believe Alec Baldwin would agree with me. And then he’d hit me in the face. First thing we said when it was over: “Wake up. I fell asleep, too. Someone has to turn this thing off or Jeff Bridges will deliver another seven-minute monologue.”

Maria Full of Grace — Good, small, effective. First thing we said when it was over: “Oh. Didn’t you expect another twenty minutes? That’s it? Huh.”

Hotel Rwanda — I’m pretty sure this is the best movie I’ve seen out of all the screeners. I cried, I clutched a pillow, I sat up and said — out loud — “Oh, no.” I never do that. This movie sucked me in at two in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and I can’t stop telling people how good it is. I’m sure Jamie Foxx is going to win for Ray, but Don Cheadle does such an amazing job in this movie that I hope he never stops working. First thing we said when it was over: “Hotel Rwanda Kill Myself Because I’m So Sad.”

A Very Long Engagement — Please note the “very long” right there in the title. They aren’t kidding. And the violence is brutal. When a movie opens with a shot of a torso ripped in half from a crucifixion, I suppose they warned you straight up. First thing we said when it was over: “Not quite the whimsy of Amelie.”

A Love Song for Bobby Long — Laura and I tried to watch this together, but we couldn’t take it. We watched it on fast forward to see if it ever got any better. It didn’t, but John Travolta wore an impressive number of ladies’ robes. I have no idea how Scarlett Johannnnnsssonnsonn got a Golden Globe nomination for that one. Laura said, “They must have just given it to her because she’s pretty, and lied about seeing the movie. Who sat through that besides the two of us?” First thing we said after it was over: “Hey, I think the movie ended in the other room. Thank God!”

Finding Neverland — Oh, Johnny Depp. Thank you for the accent. The rest of the movie is that dreaded word — Cute. It’s very cute. And the kids are cute. And Kate Winslet coughs cute. And then for no reason a bear dances and sometimes you’re like, “Oookay, I get it, but I’m not there with you but okay.” It’s a little like reading a children’s book out loud. You know that the kids are totally into it, but you can see the strings and you feel a little manipulated, but you know it’s not really for you and mmmm Johnny Depp’s got an accent and his hair is short and his face is clean. First thing we said when it was over: “That Johnny Depp really is quite attractive.”

Kinsey — First thing you say when it’s over: “Full frontal Peter Sarsgaard, and this movie still wasn’t sexy.”

In Good Company — After watching all these other screeners you say, “Oh, thank God. It’s almost a comedy.” And that’s a pretty accurate description.

Screeners I can’t bring myself to watch: Being Julia, The Merchant of Venice, Stage Beauty, Modigliani, De-Lovely, The Sea Inside They are all about artists. We might end up watching Pacino’s Shylock at some point, as he does so love making us watching him do Shakespeare.

If you think we’re being lazy, I’ll tell you about the time we drove to Pasadena to watch a screening of The Life Aquatic, (including poor Dan who flew across the city in traffic to make it, and Sara who had to abort the mission because she was stuck in traffic, and Ray who couldn’t come due to his landlady making him go to IKEA), only to have technical problems that caused us to watch the first four minutes over and over again. Without sound. Still haven’t seen it.

I’m spending my Christmas with Ray, Imaginary Heroes and possibly Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (good luck on that one, Renee.)

Have a great Screener season, everybody. Go see some very good movies. Or I guess you could go give Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro even more money, but uh… full frontal Peter Sarsgaard!