“ALL WRITERS are vampires,” said the actor James Gandolfini.
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SPEAKING OF the undead, the vampire genre never is. From the silent film “Nosferatu” to Bela Lugosi to the Hammer films with Christopher Lee, to Frank Langella, Catherine Deneuve, Lauren Hutton, Tom and Brad’s “Interview with the Vampire,” to those silly “Twilight” teen vamps, there’s always a … thirst.
So next up to tackle the subject is the somewhat mysterious musician/writer/director Jim Jarmusch. His tale is a romance titled, “Only Lovers Left Alive.” It’s about two vampires who have been carrying on together for centuries. The film will star John Hurt and Tilda Swinton.
Well, I must say, Miss Swinton is expertly cast! When she is in character in any film, she is a strikingly unusual-looking woman. But in her own life, as herself, she definitely has the appearance of somebody who might have been around for a millennium or six. With her extraordinarily pale skin, her height, hair that is usually cropped or coiffed in some odd shape and a resistance to wearing makeup, Tilda never looks like anybody else in the room, or in fact, on the earth. She is the Lady Gaga of serious thespians.
At the SAG awards on Sunday night, she was her usual unusual self, just as she came across on “Nightline” recently. She somehow blows away everybody else, all the conventionally pretty women, who have been made-up and spray-tanned and packaged in Hollywood red-carpet style. (Well, except for Meryl Streep, who always has a kind of relaxed “I-just-threw-this-on” attitude.)
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THE SAG awards move at a nice clip — a neat two hours with not a lot of superfluous nattering on.
Great acceptance speeches from Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Christopher Plummer, Jean DuJardin and Jessica Lange. Miss Lange, who won for her role in the series “America Horror Story” still has that oddly shy, wistful, neurotically vulnerable quality that was so appealing way back in “Tootsie.” (Too bad Jessica never played Marilyn Monroe; her onscreen essence as a young woman was quite similar to that of the late screen goddess.)
Meryl Streep, who is considered the odds-on favorite to win an Oscar for “The Iron Lady” didn’t seem to mind at all losing the Screen Actors Guild honor to Viola Davis, especially when Miss Davis cited “the beautiful Meryl” as one of her early acting inspirations. (Her first was Cicely Tyson.) And of course, Viola has shared screen time with Meryl — those ten sensational minutes in “Doubt.”
Everybody looked good, everybody was well-behaved. I was amused by the “Martin Scorsese drinking game.” My gripes are minor.
As much as I adore Alec Baldwin — six consecutive wins for “30 Rock?!!!” Bow out. Give someone else a chance. I’d also like to see the brilliant Bryan Cranston receive some love from SAG. His performance in “Breaking Bad” continues to be epic. Still, everybody looked happy to simply be there and nobody pulled any grumpy faces when they lost.
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THE “In Memoriam” segment — introduced by Miss Streep — was quite good, although I was saddened that a number of star deaths passed unnoted by me. For instance, I didn’t know that two of TV’s most notable women, Marian Mercer and Doris Belack, had died. Both of them also had memorable roles on the big screen. Miss Belack, who had become quite well-known in recent years for her “Law & Order” appearances, is probably best remembered by movie fans as the tough producer of the TV soap in “Tootsie.” (She’s the one who cautions the cameraman not to get too close up on Dustin Hoffman in his female persona.)
Miss Mercer still gets big laughs as the clueless wife of Dabney Coleman in “Nine to Five.”
And of course, I loved the way the segment ended, with Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8” puckering that perfect rosebud mouth, blowing a kiss and murmuring, “Bye, now.”
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ATTENTION, THOSE of you who were teenagers in the late 1980’s — one of your favorite bands is coming back.
Guns N’ Roses, headed by Axl Rose, will appear at New York City’s Webster Hall on Feb 15th. The group broke up years ago, and Mr. Rose has had his issues. But the guys want to give it another go, and Webster Hall has significance to the band. Back in 1988, MTV filmed Guns N’ Roses at Webster Hall — it was then famously known as The Ritz — and the resulting concert footage became legendary.
So Axl and Slash and Izzy will be doing it all over again, in Manhattan and six other cities, too. It’ll be just like the good old days, except that Mr. Rose probably won’t be running around in those famous skin-tight bicycle shorts.
Rock n’roll is much more forgiving to men who still carry on like the boys they once were. But spandex is very unforgiving on the middle-aged of either sex. No matter how hot the music is. Mr. Rose will probably stick to denim.
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ENDQUOTE: “This was a bad business decision. I really didn’t think following my heart would create this much backlash,” says Kim Kardashian on skepticism about her 72-day marriage to football player Kris Humphries. Following her heart?
As Bette Davis said to Anne Baxter in “All About Eve:” “Nice, speech, Eve. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be.”