Tag Archives: Pushing Daisies

I can’t believe I had never seen this movie before . . .

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Until yesterday. Because, after all, it was practically shot in my backyard. And some of my friends had walk-on roles in it.

But most of all, I can’t believe I’d missed such a wonderful, colorful, moving fantasy film set in Alabama and featuring a great cast, including some of my favorite actors–Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Steve Buschemi, Billy Crudup and more.

The movie is the 2003 Tim Burton production, Big Fish, based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace. “Heartwarming” is not a term often used to describe Tim Burton films, but it’s a suitable description of this movie. I confess I cried buckets at the end of it, but good tears, if you know what I mean.

Big Fish is the story of a son, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup), coming home to fictional Ashton, Alabama to visit his dying father and try to sort out the actual truth from the many “tall tales” his larger-than-life ranconteur father, Ed (Albert Finney) has spun over the years. The film features flashbacks to a younger Ed  (Ewan McGregor) and his adventures, including meeting a local witch with a glass eye into which one can look to see the future and discovering a perfect town where no one wears shoes. And there’s his tenure with a traveling circus, getting “shot, stabbed, shot out of a cannon” and other dangerous activities in order to learn all he could about Sandra, the woman he had fallen in love with at first sight and is determined to woo and win.

Will, who is expecting a child of his own with his French photographer wife, has been estranged from his dad since a falling-out over his dad’s “colorful” speech at Will’s wedding.. They have only communicated through a third party, Will’s mother (Jessica Lange).  Will, frustrated with what he sees as his father’s attention-grabbing ploys, aims to learn the real truth of  Ed’s life before his dad passes away. And some of what he learns is very surprising . .  I will say no more as I don’t want to give any spoilers. I will add that one of the reviewers commented that fans of Pushing Daisies will enjoy Big Fish.

”]Cover of "Big Fish [Blu-ray]" The movie was filmed in and around the towns of Prattville, Wetumpka and Selma, as I recall.  In one scene, an address is shown on an envelope including “Greenville Road,” which happens to be the name of my home town (where, by the way, Sweet Home Alabama‘s director and his co-writer worked on the film script while soaking up some local color and scouting for locations). Two of our friends were circus clowns, although my dwarf friend’s part ended up on the cutting room floor. However, he did get featured in a spread on the film in Vanity Fair Magazine, which is not too shabby. My other friend, Jay, is easy to spot: he’s about 6’3″ and weighed close to 400 lbs. at the time. He was one big and intimidating clown.  😉

Cover of "Honeydripper"

Cover of Honeydrippe

John Sayles & Maggie Renzi

John Sayles & Maggie Renzi This photo was actually taken at the Greenville premiere of Honeydripper. (Photo credit: aavarnum)

There is always something cool about seeing places and people you know on the big screen. Famed indie director John SaylesHoneydripper gave us that opportunity several years ago, filming here in Butler County and in some locales to the north and west of us, and featuring lots of familiar faces, some in speaking roles. One of our high school classmate’s sons had a prominent speaking role featured throughout the film. A group of local singers formed an amazing gospel choir featured in one scene and on the soundtrack. I was sitting beside one of their choir members the night of the Alabama premiere and got a kick out of watching her watching herself on that big screen.

It was the first time I actually got to be on location whilst filming was going on, to put on the headphones and see what the director was seeing through the lens, to hang out with the continuity people and talk with set dressers and decorators. I have always been fascinated by the technical side of filmmaking, what goes on behind the scenes, too (that’s been part of the enjoyment of watching Sir Peter’s videoblogs, aside from sightings of Mr. A, of course). John  and Maggie, his wife and producer, was super-nice to me and I will never forget their kindness. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.   Ah, the magic of movies!!

Now, Sir Peter, would you please send a new videoblog our way so we can learn more fascinating stuff about the filming of The Hobbit–and give us a possible chance to see–and perhaps even hear–our dear Mr. Armitage? That would be swell!

I'd love to see more of this guy really, really soon.

Meet one of RA’s TH co-stars: the charming, talented Lee Pace

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Lee Pace first came on my radar in the period comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. 

Cover of "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day ...

Cover via Amazon

Lee Pace in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day."

He was tall, dark and attractive and he definitely caught my attention. I  thought he was a Brit, but it turns out he was born in Oklahoma and spent much of his childhood in Saudi Arabia (his dad was an oilman). On returning to the US, the family lived in New Orleans and Houston, Texas. Lee is a graduate of the prestigious Julliard School and has done work in television, on stage and on screen. I never saw either of his television series (Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies), but the latter has been quite a cult classic and I hope to check it out in the not-too-distant future.

Wonderfalls

Wonderfalls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 177: Pushing Daisies

Day 177: Pushing Daisies (Photo credit: tsmall)

Lee’s breakthrough performance was the 2003 film made for Showtime, Soldier’s Girl, based on a true and tragic incident. Lee plays a transgender showclub performer who becomes involved with a young soldier, later beaten to death by a fellow GI.  It’s the sort of story that could have been handled in a cheap and exploitative manner; instead, the relationship is explored with great sensitivity and it’s beautifully acted by Lee and Troy Garrity as Barry, the soldier who unexpectedly falls in love with someone very different.

Lee is six feet, three inches tall with a deep voice.   Yet, he creates the illusion that he is a woman. He doesn’t come across as a drag queen with a lot of exaggerated mannerisms, but a very tall, willowy and graceful lady, and it is easy to see why the soldier would be attracted to Calpernia. Lee, already a lean fellow, lost 25 lbs. to play the role. He performance was nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globes.

Lee Pace as Calpernia, the transgender showgirl in "A Soldier's Girl."

In 2006, Lee appeared in the fantasy adventure film The Fall, playing Roy, a silent movie era stuntman who is partially paralyzed in a fall. With both heart and body fractured, Roy is befriended by a little girl recuperating from a broken arm in the same hospital. He entertains her with tales of strange mythical heroes and their far-flung exploits. It is one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen (I have now ordered it on DVD) shot over a couple of years in a half-dozen different countries.

A gif that shows Lee also knows how to rock the guyliner.

”]Cover of "The Fall (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]&...

Lee has also appeared in such films as  The Ceremony, When in Rome, A Single Man and has a role in Breaking Dawn Part 2.

He will be playing the elf king Thranduil in both of the upcoming Hobbit films.   He just might give Leggy some competition in the hearthrob elf category.  Lee’s trademarks are his bushy eyebrows and his shy, nervous but charming demeanor.

Lomelindi88's rendering of Lee as Elf King Thranduil in "The Hobbit."