Starting Out in the Evening director Andrew Wagner depicts the relationship between novelist Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella) with an admiring student (Lauren Ambrose) and his wayward daughter (Lili Taylor) “with some delicacy — perhaps too much delicacy,” writes New Yorker critic David Denby. Someone who was vaguely irritated with this film….finally!
“Schiller is meant to be a survivor of the New York Jewish literary renaissance of the 1950s and 60s, but the movie, for all its considerable intelligence, dries out his temperament too much. Anyone who remembers that vanished tribe of New Yorkers knows that, even in their later years, they made a joke now and then and were given to malice and desire as well as to bouts of intellectual severity.
“After a while, Schiller√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s austere ironies wilt one√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s respect for him. Langella is superb, and Starting Out in the Evening is a classy film — I never thought I would hear the phrase ‘Trilling, Howe, and especially Edmund Wilson’ uttered in a movie theatre — but it could have used a little less circumspection, a little more juice.”
“I saw There Will Be Blood again Friday here in bluer-than-blue New York City. They showed the preview for Stop Loss and you could feel a palpable sense of dread and disconnect in the audience. The room which had been so buzzy and excited before this, just went dead. Luckily the Kung-Fu Panda cell-phone announcement came on next and brought everyone back to life. Seriously.” — HE reader “tophertilson.”
Red Carpet District‘s Kris Tapley has posted a rundown of the big award-related dates in January. Here’s my edited version with the who-cares? events removed:
1.6.07: BFCA hosts the Critics Choice Awards (live on VH1). 1.8.08: DGA feature film nominees announced (Directors Guild of America). 1.10.08:: DGA documentary nominees announced. 1.10.08: WGA screen nominees announced (Writers Guild of America). 1.12.08: AMPAS nominations polls close, end of Oscar voting. 1.13.08: Golden Globe Awards — probably no TV, phone reporting, webcasts. 1.16.08: Leave for Sundance Film Festival. 1.22.08: Oscar nominees announced at he crack of dawn. 1.25.08: Return from Sundance Film Festival. 1.27.08: SAG Awards (Live on TNT, except on west coast).
The Benazair Bhutto “Zapruder tape” is a little hard to sort out. I had to watch it three times before spotting the assassin. You need to watch the other one too, which also has sounds of gunshots and an explosion.
The visuals of the Ray Ban-wearing assassin and the sound of gunshots strongly suggest that Ms. Bhutto didn’t die by hitting her head on a lever of her car’s sunroof during the attack, as Pakistan government spokespersons have claimed in a stab of almost Duck Soup-like surrealism. The N.Y. Times reports that yesterday Pakistani newspapers “covered their front pages with photographs showing a man apparently pointing a gun at her from just yards away. ”
Bill Clinton talked up Mike Huckabee a day or two ago in Sergeant Bluffs, Iowa, and said he wasn’t surprised by Huckabee’s rise. He “seems to be the only one who can give a speech, tell a story, or tell a joke,” Clinton said. “It’s pretty dour crowd on the other side, and Mike’s pretty funny.”
In other words, the electoral Dating Game principle — the standard that gave us two terms of George Bush — is alive and thriving. Give us a president we can enjoy having a beer with, and who excues personal charm and can make us laugh. This doesn’t explain Hillary Clinton‘s popularity, I realize.
What do we do with this? We think we’ve got a really good film here and we’re dead with the leave-us-aloners, just like with every other sand movie. What other options do we have? The lifestyle-holics don’t want to know about anything remotely connected to Iraq. It’s a settled issue and the paying public is a bunch of ADD iPhone escapist junkies. Don’t want to be a pessimist but we’re screwed, we’re toast and there’s no way out. Or is there?
Wait…can we get some traction by selling it as a Ryan Phillipe-Abbie Cornish love story that spilled over into real life? Naah, people will see through that. If anything, the Reese Witherspoon fans (the ones who’re loving the Legally Blonde musical) will turn their backs out of loyalty.
This really isn’t fair, dammit. Kimberly Peirce finally gets a movie made and released seven and a half years after Boys Don’t Cry and the public…this is depressing. Why did we get into this business? To make a lot of money, I know, but some of us care about making good films that we’ll be proud of 20 years later. Goddam Rubeville, Redville…whatever. You sweat blood and pour out your heart and they turn around and make a huge hit out of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Let’s all move to France. No, we have to fight for our movie. We have just under three months to try and fix this. We need a miracle….help.
Wait, should we say “eye-rack” now? My assistant told me she read that the rubes don’t like to say “eehr-rahq.” We don’t want to do anything to offend anyone. Eye-rack, eye-rack, eye-rack.
Nothing fills me with such spiritual satisfaction as my annual naysaying of New Year’s Eve — the refusal to (a) attend a New Year’s Eve party or take part in any mass celebration thereof, or (b) to enjoy myself if I weaken and attend some kind of New Year’s Eve soiree regardless. I hate the idea of celebrating renewal by way of a clock, and especially in the company of those who make a big whoop-dee-doo about it.
My all-time best New Year’s Eve happened in Paris on the 1999-into-2000 Millenium year — standing about two city blocks in front of the Eiffel Tower and watching the greatest fireworks display ever orchestrated in human history.
And then walking all the way back to Montmartre with thousands on the streets after the civil servants shut the subway down at 1 a.m. That couldn’t have happened eight years ago. Must be a mistake.
Politico‘s Jeffrey Ressner on the year’s top ten political movies — No End in Sight, The Lives of Others, Breach, Sicko, In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom, A Mighty Heart, Persepolis, Charlie Wilson’s War and The Bourne Ultimatum. Of these, my personal favorite is The Lives of Others, which I keep processing as a fall of ’06 film and not an early ’07 release (which of course it was). The second best, hands down, was In the Valley of Elah — the most neglected top-drawer film of the year.
Two days ago Red Carpet District‘s Kris Tapley said I was “back on the ‘Oscar prognostication should be about spotlighting quality‘ thing again.” No — last Thursday’s post was about how the Oscar race is about the debate — pushing and ragging on this and that contender and what the various views and convictions that emerge say about who and what we are — and not the winners, which nobody except Oscar queens ever remembers.
This okay but unexceptional Chicago Tribune piece about great movie endings reminds me that no matter what you may or may not think about There Will Be Blood as a whole, the ending — the final line, I mean — is almost certainly the year’s best.
The second best ending, of course, belongs to No Country for Old Men — the combination of that final line (“Then I woke up”), the cut to a silent and meditative Tess Harper across the kitchen table, and then back to Tommy Lee Jones…beat, beat, cut to black.
The year’s third-best ending — I’m not being facetious — was delivered by the Farrelly Brothers‘ The Heartbreak Kid. Ben Stiller‘s character, realizing he’s again succumbing to the old obsessive hungers and behaviors, saying “fuck me!” — and a fast cut-to-black. Perfect! Ranks with the finale of Some Like It Hot as one of the best movie-comedy endings ever. (Which obviously doesn’t imply that I’m praising the rest of the film with equal fervor.)