And what’s with this morning’s posting of this Time “blog” piece by Washington Times reporter and Brainwash editor Eric Pfeiffer about the selling of Oliver Stone‘s World Trade Center to conservatives? Why now, I mean, two months after the movie came out? Because Stone has been promoting it in Europe?
The Queen star Helen Mirren, who’s looks at this stage like an even more likely shoo-in for Best Actress than Prada‘s Meryl Streep and Volver‘s Penelope Cruz, sat for a round-table chat this morning at the Four Seasons hotel; so did the film’s director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan. Frears and Morgan deliver a somewhat livelier session (Frears’ voice is the sharper and deeper of the two), but Mirren ran a close second.
Queen star Helen Mirren, not as she appeared during roundtable interviews this morning (9.3) at the Four Seasons but at a Miramax-funded photo session a week or two back.
La Opinion‘s Josep Parera called me a few days for a piece about the Oscar season, and what’s cool about this isn’t what I said (the usual praisings of Innaritu and Almodovar) as much as the mildly exotic thrill of being quoted in Spanish:
“Para el periodista Jeffrey Wells, responsable de la pagina en la red hollywood-elsewhere.com, y uno de los expertos en analizar la carrera de los Oscar, ‘Babel es la obra cumbre de Inarritu. El es el director mas brillante de la actualidad. Esta al mismo nivel que cineastas como Fellini y Antonioni. No es solo un director, es alguien que est√É∆í√Ç¬° por encima del resto, en el panteon de los grandes.”
“Y por lo que respecta a Volver, Wells afirma que se trata ‘de la mejor pelicula para mujeres y de mujeres de la historia.'”
Happiness and lethargy are merely flip sides of the same coin. People who go “whoopee” when things are going well and “woe is me” when things are going badly are slaves in a jungle of illusion. There is only the cosmic hum and continuity of it all.
That is why people who spray champagne on their friends and scream “we’re number one!” when their football or soccer or baseball or basketball teams wins are cosmic midgets. And why this front-page story that appeared in the Times this afternoon will only excite or encourage children.
It reads, “After days of flirting with its all-time peak, the Dow Jones industrial average finally set a new record this afternoon. The Dow gained 56.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 11,727.34. The index√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s previous closing high of 11,722.98 was set on Jan. 14, 2000.
“The latest record came as oil prices fell about 3 percent and dropped below $60 a barrel for the first time since March. Energy prices have been falling in the last month because fears of hurricanes, troubles in the Middle East and tight supplies have eased markedly since the end of summer.
“Earlier today, the Dow topped another record reached on Jan. 14, 2000, as it traded at an all-time intraday high of 11,758.87. The stock market rally that led to the 2000 peak had been fueled by growth in technology and a belief that the internet would transform businesses. The rally over the last few months, however, has had more modest roots: signs that the economy is moderating and inflation is tame.”
“I will tell you right now — Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar,” Good German star George Clooney has told the Associated Press about his costar. “She’s the best actor working today. Not actress — she’s an actor. Intimidating, in a way, to work with an actor that good.”
“Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed clocks in at two and a half hours, yet it’s two and a half hours of jabber and jolt, and [with] enough color for ten crime pictures. It works smashingly. There’s no mercy — not even for the audience. William Monahan‘s dialogue is Mamet-speak played at Alvin and the Chipmunks speed with a broad Boston accent.
“While characters spit yahmuthahfuckedme expletives into one another’s faces (along with peculiar citations of Shakespeare, Freud, and James Joyce), Scorsese and his fab house editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, drive the action brusquely. They can hardly sit still in the present; they leap around in time, splintering a moment into its antecedent and aftermath. They chuck in random splattery head shootings and bashings — like demitasses of espresso in the middle of a long road trip.” — from David Edelstein ‘s review, the best-written about this film yet, in New York magazine.
The wheel is turning, turning. All the top critics are creaming all over this thing. Maybe this Boston crime movie about nothing especially rich or dimensional except for its own brilliant moves is a Best Picture finalist waiting to happen — it’s got a 100% rating so far on Rotten Tomatoes and a 93% rating on Metacritic.
As every knows, Grindhouse (Weinstein Co., 4.07) will be two high-style wank-off movies in one — Robert Rodriguez‘s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof. Two guys who are capable of much, much more slumming by making a couple of B movies in quotes. Point is, this thing became more interesting since the stories started getting around last summer about Rodriguez disassembling and losing his focus during the shooting of Death Planet because he was so emotionally shattered over getting divorced from his wife and producer, Elizabeth Avellan.
This freakout — a couple of guys I’ve spoken to have used the antiquated term “nervous breakdown”, which is a leftover from the ’50s and ’60s — didn’t detonate the movie, but it came close. “It was touch and go, but they got through it,” a guy tells me. And I gather some exta costs were incurred, whcih always happens when a film isn’t made in a perfectly ordered and coordinated way.
Rodriguez is “a traditional Hispanic Catholic male,” a friend says, “who depended on Elizabeth to nurture, support and protect him..and when that marriage fell apart [after some 16 years of togetherness], he lost it.”
The intrigue for me is, does an artist need to have to have a smooth, happy, secure, well-ordered personal life to do good work? Maybe this is necessary for some people, but I don’t know that this is vital for everyone. This sounds a bit cold, but I’m thinking that Planet Terror will probably be a more layered thing to watch now, given what’s happened. In the same sense that Douglas Trumbull‘s Brain- storm (’83) became unavoidably more intriguing with everyone knowing that costar Natalie Wood had drowned not long after it was made.
I did some reporting in ’99 about other Neos who might have starred in The Matrix (Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith), and I never heard squat about Kevin Costner being offered the part so take this Guardian story (or this aspect of it) with a grain. Richard Burton would have been sublime as Brutus in Joseph L. Manckiewicz‘s 1953 production of Julius Caesar (which is out on DVD on 11.7) Julia Roberts blew it big-time by turning down Gwynneth Paltrow‘s role in Shakespeare in Love. Warren Beatty would have been perfect as Hubbell Gardiner (the role that Robert Redford finally took) in The Way We Were. Ben Affleck back-dooring Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain?….in ’97, maybe, but too old for the part in 2005. There’s something extremely weird about the idea of Jimmy Cagney in green tights as Robin Hood. And whoever wanted to see Chevy Chase whacking off in the shower in American Beauty, in Kevin Spacey‘s Lester part, needs to be found and punished.
The Oregonian‘s film critic Shawn Levy has written a piece about how October is a great old time for film festivals in his neck of the woods. He chooses to mention three — the Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Oct. 6-15), the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (Oct. 6-8) and the Local Sightings Film Festival (Oct. 6-11) — but he can’t afford any space for the poor little Bend Film Festival (Oct. 12-16) — an indie-attitude shebang happening in Bend, Oregon, a nice little town a bit south of Redmond.
Late Monday afternoon/Yom Kippur update: Levy has written to explain he was only covering first-week-in-October festivals in his piece and will cover Bend big-time next weekend. I’m going to be part of the Bend Film Festival as a juror starting a week from Thursday. (I’ve been trying to watch the submitted films on DVD over the last two weeks…don’t ask.) MCN contributor Ray Pride will also be juror-ing there. I wouldn’t even be going if Levy, a Bend Film Festival fan along with Gus Van Sant and John Waters, hadn’t recommended my services to the organizers in the first place.
William J. Mann, the respected author of “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn” (Holt & Co.), describes Katharine Hepburn‘s “lifelong affection for women,” as Janet Maslin puts it in her N.Y. Times book review, as “the elephant in the room.”
I for one could never really imagine Hepburn making love with a man…not Spencer Tracy, not Charlie Allnut, not Rossano Brazzi. Whatever and whomever she let into her life and heart, hetero mambo never seemed part of the deep-down picture. And you can always sense these things, to some extent. Not everyone was readable, but many were. You could always detect on some level the inclinations of Montgomery Clift, James Dean, et. al. And there was never any missing the fact that Frank Sinatra was straight.
Maslin writes that “from [Hepburn’s] early friend Laura Harding, who described herself as ‘Miss Hepburn’s husband,’ to Phyllis Wilbourn, a companion of 40 years about whom Hepburn said, ‘Phyllis and I are one,’ women figure prominently in Mr. Mann’s thinking. [But] his goal here is less to detect lesbian relationships than to reiterate how greatly Hepburn’s public and private identities diverged.”
A couple of years ago Leonardo DiCaprio confided to a friend that he’ll occasionally catch a film at the grungy-ass Beverly Cinema, a repertory house I haven’t gone to since the late ’80s because of the gummy-sticky syrup on the floor that sticks to the soles of your shoes — photo taken Sunday, 10.1.06…but maybe they’ve cleaned up the floors since, and apparently they’ve installed a relatively new sound and projection system; (a) Alpine near Broadway in Chinatown — Sunday, 10.1.06, 9:55 pm; (b) object d’art in front of Pacific Design Center — Saturday, 9.30.06, 9:25 pm; (c) Little Childen costar Patrick Wilson during Toronto Film Festival — he plays a daydreamy married guy…a guy only half imbedded in his own life, and looking to be 15 again…and is, I feel, really and truly exceptional in the role, as good as his celebrated costar Kate Winslet; (d) Taco joint on eastern Melrose, a mile or so west of downtown.
I’m well aware that providing a link to this shot of an Italian magazine cover is in bad taste, but I’d never happened across this photo before last weekend. It’s from a link sitting on the Diana Princess of Wales Wikipedia page, and with The Queen having just opened in New York and opening this weekend in Los Angeles, I’m guessing others might want to have a quick peek.