X costars Vincent Riverside (l.) and Eden Brolin (r.) flanking director-writer Josh Brolin at this evening’s Fourth Annual HollyShorts Film Festival at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian theatre — Thursday, 8.7.08, 8:05 pm. Here’s my reaction to Brolin’s short afte seeing it last February at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Also shown was Martin Keegan‘s Verboten, a twisted relationship drama about a weirdo son with glazed eyes, a malevolent dad (played by Keegan) and the latter’s attractive German-speaking girlfriend.
I feel moderately relieved that I wasn’t too bad on The O’Reilly Factor earlier today, and at the same time somewhat depressed that I didn’t really kick out the jams either. I did everything I was told to do — write down what I wanted to say, decide which points were best to emphasize, and concentrate on being clear and concise. But halfway through the interview the clarity I had in my head started to feel mushy and imprecise. I was half making sense and half saying to myself, “What’s happening? Why isn’t this working out better?”
The Fox News interview set, located in the basement of the Fox buildigon Armacost, about 20 minutes before air-time.
Either I’m not just cut out to be a talking guest-head or I need to do more of these to sharpen my routine or O’Reilly intimidated me or something. My main intention was to be clear and reasonable in presenting my opinion, which is that it’s absurd of the right-wing hammers to accuse me of being a supporter of hypothetical liberal blacklisting. I’m sick of talking and thinking about this deranged subject as it has no relation on any recognizable reality I’m familiar with.
Over half of the e-mails that came in were from enraged or illiterate right-wingers calling me a “whacko commie pig” and such. It’s probably best to just concentrate on the positive reactions and take heart that I probably picked up some new readers.
“I saw you on the O”Reilly factor a second ago and I have to say that I respect you for coming on the program and saying what you believe to Mr. O’Reilly,” wrote a guy named Steve Klinck. “I happen to be a conservative and disagree with your statements but, as Bill said, you”re a stand-up guy, and I respect you for that.”
“I just watched your conversation with BR on The O”Reilly Factor,” wrote Paul Lyle of Plainview, Texas, “and until that moment I’d never heard of you, but I want to say how delightful and gracious you were, very open and credible. You are a very prepossessing gentlemen. BR made nothing off your forthrighness about having some reservation about what you had written regarding Jon Voight. I thought that was high drama. Welcome to my world. I’ll be watching and reading you.”
“When I heard your quote I was angry at you,” wrote Jim Lewallen,” but you did a nice job with Bill. I am a conservative[but] you made sense. You have your opinions on the blog. No one has to read this and you weren’t encouraging Hollywood to blacklist conservatives. You said it best when you said basically I’m just a guy with an opinion. Interesting interview.”
I spoke earlier today with Magnolia Pictures president Eammon Bowles about Man on Wire, which has been doing good business since opening on 7.25 because it’s been well reviewed, but mainly — and it really is this simple — because it delivers a genuine spiritual high. And when films that really and truly do this come along, people always pick up on this and go and tell their friends and then it builds and builds and builds.
This combination documentary, elegy and suspense film is opening around the country this weekend. It is absolutely essential to see it, and I don’t mean on DVD
When Sean Connery saw Man on Wire at the Edinburgh Film Festival a little more than a month ago he called it √¢‚Ç¨≈ìone of the best three films I have ever seen.√¢‚Ç¨¬ù (He wouldn’t say what the other two were.) At the Vicky Christina Barcelona party the other night people kept asking me what my favorite recent film is, and over and over I kept on saying Man on Wire. I hadn’t said this to myself in so many words, but I didn’t hesitate in saying it when asked.
Here’s an mp3 of the last two or three minutes of my conversation with Bowles in which I articulate the “spiritual high” high, and here’s an mp3 of our whole discussion.
Entertainment Weekly‘s Ben Svetkey: “If you could be any superhero, which superhero would you be?”
Barack Obama: “I was always into the Spider-Man/Batman model. The guys who have too many powers, like Superman, that always made me think they weren’t really earning their superhero status. It’s a little too easy. Whereas Spider-Man and Batman, they have some inner turmoil. They get knocked around a little bit.”
Svetkey: “For instance, who’s your favorite movie or TV president?”
Obama: You know who was a great movie president? Jeff Bridges in The Contender. That was a great movie president. He was charming and essentially an honorable person, but there was a rogue about him. The way he would order sandwiches — he was good at that.
Svetkey: Is that one of the things you’re looking forward to? Confounding the White House kitchen staff with obscure sandwich requests?
Obama: “Absolutely. I want to test them. I want to see if I can get any sandwich I want.” — from an interview posted on August 6th.
In a story that appeared yesterday (8.6) in La Stampa, Maria Elena Finessi reported that the late Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, who passed last July at age 94, was so bummed by “his gradual loss of sight” that he starved himself to death, but in an elegant mystical way that was a kind of “masterpiece” of finality.
Enrico Fico, Michelangelo Antonioni
Finessi got the story from Enrico Fico, the widow of the legendary helmer (L’Avventura, Blow Up, L’Eclisse). Antonioni would not have taken his life by shooting or poison “because I still represented his link with the world,” Fico told Finessi. “But certainly he asked for help. To die was his only wish. To go away, in order not to fall into darkness and live as a blind man”.
Fico, who married Antonioni in the mid ’80s, said that with “incredible willpower” he had “simply stopped eating.” He had eaten little or nothing from September 2006, [a little less than] a year before he died, she told La Stampa. “He came to the table with me, to keep me company, but only ate a few spoonfuls”. He had proved that “one’s body continues to live even if you go month after month without eating”.
She said that like the mystics who had similarly starved themselves, Antonioni had acquired “extraordinary mental lucidity” towards the end. He had put up with his decline and illness “gloriously,” but “not to be able to see was for him truly unacceptable”. He had wanted to die “to free himself not so much from pain as from the body which was the origin of his suffering.” She said his death “was a masterpiece as much as his cinematic works. He went in absolute peace, embracing the absolute, as if he were a mystic. He wanted to de-materialize.”
Slim Pickens’ spirited farewell near the end of Dr. Strangelove.
For years my ideal self-obliteration fantasy (if I was facing imminent death anyway and wanted to end it on my own terms) was to go out like William Holden‘s Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch. But getting shot several times (and in the back!) would hurt. It therefore might be better and kind of cooler, I used to tell myself, to go out like Slim Pickens at the end of Dr. Strangelove — vaporized in a millisecond in a hot flash of light, and so quickly that my body wouldn’t have time to send the pain messages to my brain.
But I don’t feel that way anymore. I believe in raging against the dying of the light and holding on to the very last. I want to go like William F. Buckley, slumped over at my computer, a sentence half-typed. Or I want to collapse on a busy street as I’m thinking about (or trying to get the attention of) a beautiful woman, like Omar Sharif in Dr. Zhivago.
British comedian and radio talk show guy Joe Cornish has recorded a Quantum of Solace spoof song that isn’t half bad, especially since he sounds a whole lot like David Bowie. But the best lyrics have been tapped out by Cornish’s radio partner Adam Buxton: (a) “I want a quantum of solace, but just a quantum / I know they do big bags of solace, but I don’t want ’em” and (b) “I met a lovely lady, but found out she was a rotter, so we exchanged some saucy quips, I snogged her, then I shot her”.
“And now — right before she stumps for Obama tomorrow in Nevada — comes a YouTube clip of Hillary telling her supporters that she wants a ‘strategy’ to have her delegates heard at the Democratic convention. Watching the video clip, you can tell that Hillary still hasn’t gotten over losing, and given all of the people she had telling her that she’d be the next president, we can understand the denial; she had been preparing for this moment for nearly four years.
“But we’ve asked this question a million times and we ask it again: Would the Clintons have been as deferential (or be expected to be as deferential) to Obama if the roles were reversed? What has happened over the last few days has given Obama the high ground here. ” — from this morning’s “First Read” on MSNBC.com.
This also from Time‘s Karen Tumulty, filed ysterday (8.6): “Clinton has been giving tacit encouragement to suggestions that her name be placed in nomination at the convention, a symbolic move that would be a reminder of the bruising primary battle. ‘No decisions have been made,’ Clinton said when asked in California — to whoops and applause — about that possibility. Still, it was hard to miss what Clinton would like to see in the pointed way she added, ‘Delegates can decide to do this on their own. They don’t need permission.'”
I can’t resist posting this [edited] reader response on the “First Read” blog, to wit: “The Clintons have become like the Night of the Living Dead zombies. Hillary and Bill: take our advice. We are wealthy, white, middle-aged and female, but we REJECTED you. We are also well-educated and we know that Obama is the future and you are the past. When we do elect a woman, and we will, it will be one that has won on her own merits, not by staying married to a serial womanizer and saying anything to get elected.
“And just so you know, you are on the cusp of ruining any chance of a political future if you don’t STFU.” — LB, Virginia.
Slate‘s Mickey Kaus has written very strongly and (I have to admit, distasteful as this whole mess is) persuasively about why the mainstream media should be covering the apparently for-real John Edwards paternity scandal with his alleged girlfriend Rielle Hunter.
I heard months ago through persons I trust with close-to-the-source knowledge that this story is on the level. Photos and mounting evidence are included in this week’s National Enquirer. Read Kaus and tell me he’s wrong.
The Weinstein Co. has won its appeal with the MPAA ratings board over a disputed NC-17 previously given to Zack and Miri Make A Porno, resulting in an R-Rating. The less ferocious rating nonetheless stands for “crude sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive language.” Graphic nudity involving…? No, don’t even think it.
Great — another recycled Grindhouse-style B-movie from Quentin Tarantino starring the craziest and emptiest Holllywood ding-dong of the 21st Century. Beyond help, beyond redemption and out of control, Tarantino just keeps sinking deeper and deeper into the trash pit, a little bit like that Arab kid drowning in quicksand in Lawrence of Arabia. The fact that I can’t wait to see this is immaterial.