Kim Voynar, late of Cinematical, has signed up with Movie City News as a writer-columnist-editor. Everything Voynar thinks, does, feels, believes in, dreams about, eats, breathes, longs for politically, wants to say and is looking to make happen is henceforth owned by MCN — lock, stock and barrel.
“Loved you writing about Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long and her Best Actress shot,” writes HE reader and Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling. “[But] how come there’s no love for Elsa Zylberstein, a Best Supporting Actress nominee if I ever saw one? Zylberstein is quite a terrific foil to Thomas. It’s through her eyes that we embrace Thomas’ character and stick with her. If this soulful sibling is willing to shelter and care for her, so are we. All the doubts the audience has about Thomas, Elsa believably faces and deals with, and finally she takes us where we dare not go. I think credit is due.”
I don’t know who wrote this originally, but the spirit and the attitude are quite likable. And it makes sense to impose such terms in any Wall Street bailout deal. Thanks to HE reader Brendan for passing this along:
“Dear Wall Street,
“I’m speaking on behalf of a group called The Taxpayers of the United States. Now that we’ve rejected the first bailout plan, I’m sure that in the spirit of tough, free market capitalism and spirited negotiations, you’ll consider our second offer. Here are some terms that we trust you’ll find reasonable:
“(1) We are willing to loan you money at a very low, introductory rate of 8.9%. If you are even one nanosecond late on your payment, your rate will go from 8.9% to 32.9% — instantly. You will have no right to appeal this. The interest rate increase will be retroactive. And none of this ‘but I mailed it out Friday’ stuff. We must get it, and the check must clear, for your payment to count. Reminder: transactions that occur after 2pm are not credited until the next business day, so be sure to make your payments before then.
“(2) If you are late on any of your other payments to your other creditors, your rate will also be spiked to 32.9%. I know it has nothing to do with us, but if you are late paying someone else, then obviously you are a bigger credit risk to us.
“(3) We will send you onerous terms and conditions in 6 point font. Of course, those terms can change on a whim, at any time, so we’ll be sending you hourly updates to the contract, which we expect you to read and keep up with. Sorry — we will be the only ones that can amend the contract; you cannot.
“(4) You will have a predetermined credit line, and if you go over it by even $1, your interest rate will spike to 54.9%. Sorry, it’s in the contract on page 109,209,392.
“(5) The bankruptcy laws have now changed. If you get into a bind, I’m afraid you won’t find much sympathy. No more silly excuses will be accepted. We are going to have the titles to all of your buildings and physical assets put in our name, so when the inevitable time comes and you trip up, we’ll simply take everything from you. There will be no court hearing.
“(6) We’ll be conducting a background check, driving records check, drug test, and disease risk check of all of the top executives of your firm. After all, you’re a riskier loan if you have any of those afflictions, aren’t you? Well, if we find anything wrong, your interest rate will skyrocket, and without notice.
“(7) If your business is located in a bad neighborhood, a poor city, a hurricane zone or terrorist targeted city, as defined by us, we can raise your interest rates at any time, to any rate we choose.
“For the last quarter century or so, you’ve imposed these terms, or some variation of them, upon us when loaning us money or insuring us, arguing every single time that it’s ‘necessary’ and that these sorts of changes ‘will result in more profitable companies that will pass the savings along to consumers.’ Well, now that we’re in the role of lender, and you’re in the role of borrower, we’re sure that you’ll find these same terms fair.
“Wall Street, prove the cynics wrong and accept our new plan. Prove to everyone that you’re not the hypocrites that everyone thinks you are.
“Wallace Mangold, Attorney-at-Law, representing the Taxpayers of the U.S.A.”
“I’m hearing schmaltzy,” a guy told me this morning about Joe Wright‘s The Soloist. That’s all you can share? I wrote back. How schmaltzy? Does it manifest right away, or does it…you know, hold off until Act Two or Three or what? I’m sensing a certain actorishness from Jamie Foxxin the trailer — is that a problem? Don’t tell me Robert Downey, Jr. isn’t good in this because Downey is on a roll and can’t fail.
Jonathan Demme‘s Rachel Getting Married (Sony Classics, 10.3) “is endlessly sociable, with people crowding the camera as if in a documentary, yet sometimes you want that camera to draw back and watch them from a distance — to see how they mill around in the frame rather than shifting the frame itself.
“The wedding party is the ultimate guide to Demme’s benign vision: the groom is black, the bride is white, she and her bridesmaids are dressed in saris, nobody so much as mentions race, and the officiating priest is played by Demme’s cousin, Father Robert Castle, about whom he made a fine film, Cousin Bobby, in 1992. I
“I don’t know if there were any Republican voters involved in this movie, but, if so, it must have been a lonely time. Just imagine if the rest of the crew found out. They would pin you down and sing to you until you changed your mind.” — from Anthony Lane‘s review in the current New Yorker, dated 10.6.08.
The New Yorker‘s Ben Greenman has listed his five scariest movies of all time — Jonathan Demme‘s Silence of the Lambs, Charles Laughton‘s The Night of the Hunter, Wes Craven’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Robert Wise‘s The Body Snatcher and David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive.
These are all gripping portraits of inferno worlds, but big-time scary is always about triggering repressed fears with what you don’t show — with what you set loose in people’s souls by implying the presence of demons.
There was a time when I thought that Wise’s The Haunting (’63), which shows nothing, was perhaps the scariest of all time. I’m not sure now. When I was a kid I used to think that nothing was as scary as that eerie “aaah-haaah” choir sound when those people were getting sucked down into that sandtrap hole in William Cameron Menzies‘ Invaders From Mars.
According to polling data on Yahoo Dashboard, Utah voters prefer John McCain to Barack Obama by 62.7 to 23.3. Red staters believe what they believe and their boots are dug in, but what’s up with that lopsided margin? Utah’s McCain support is much stronger than it is in states known for their adamant shitkicker sensibilities (Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky). Oklahoma is another fierce red state — McCain over Obama, 61.3 to 29.3. What do these guys sprinkle on their eggs every morning?
NBC’s Tom Brokaw is sounding more and more like a cautious milquetoast place-holder with an excessively deferential, go-along attitude. Good old avuncular, seen-it-all Tom, nostalgic sentimentalist and author of “The Greatest Generation.” But where is the honor in lobbying to put a lid on two respected MSNBC colleagues (Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews) who have a passion for cutting through the bull, and in accomodating the disreputable liars and smoke-blowers in the McCain campaign?
Two days ago Brokaw (a) reportedly cited false disparaging poll data about Barack Obama, (b) recently conducted some shuttle diplomacy between NBC and the McCain campaign, seeking to assure the candidate’s aides that — despite some negative on-air commentary by Keith Olbermann in particular — McCain could still get a fair shake from NBC News,” and (c) “advocated” last summer within NBC News to modify the anchor duties of Olbermann and Matthews on election night and presidential debate nights.
This high-def version of the new trailer for Sam Mendes‘ Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage, 12.26) tells you pretty much what the film is without the particulars or the last two beats. Miserable, lost and sinking in surburbia. Richard Yates, John Cheever, John Updike, etc.
I understand the whole flight-to-the-suburbs mentality of the ’50s as well as the female nesting instinct, but why would Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Frank Wheeler, a guy who says he loves Paris because “the people are alive there…unlike here,” want to buy a house in Cheever Land in the first place? Is he a man or a mouse? He’s supposed to be about…what, 30 and he doesn’t know what kind of life he wants? If you don’t have a pretty good idea of who you are and what you want by 24 or 25, you’ll probably never know. And if you haven’t made your big “this is who I am, take it or leave it” move by the time you’re 30, you might as well move to Mexico and drink tequila.
“A filthy-rich fantasy for these cash-strapped times, Beverly Hills Chihuahua features the voices of Drew Barrymore and much of the industry’s top Latino talent in a live-action talking-dog lark that should please young pups. At the same time, it peddles tacky stereotypes in thick Hispanic accents, effectively ceding whatever dignity the breed regained since the ‘Yo quiero Taco Bell’ campaign went off the air. One thing’s for sure: The Mouse House will realize a fine balance of trade on this one.” — from Peter DeBruge‘s 9.29 Variety review.
“The film paints Mexico as a dangerous place full of conmen and criminals. Shivering in her custom pink booties, with only a surly German Shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia) to help her, Chloe must contend with a dog-fighting Doberman (Edward James Olmos), a sticky-fingered street rat (Cheech Marin), an immigrant-smuggling coyote (Ed F. Martin) and a sinister-looking thug (Jose Maria Yazpik) who aims to ransom Chloe back to her owner. Kids won’t pick up on the politically incorrect subtext, of course.”
Do you think all these Latin actors are proud of helping to keep alive cultural stereotypes about dangerous predatory Mexicans? DeBruge’s review seems to confirm what I’ve been sensing all along, which is that BHC is a movie about Mexico aimed at people who like Cancun or Acapulco but wouldn’t touch the “real” Mexico with a ten foot pole. People who love to hang out in malls for the immaculate if ungenuine sensation that malls convey of being surrounded in luxury. A group, in short, that probably likes the idea of John McCain a little more than they do Barack Obama if only because of their cultural xenophobia.
Another thing to bank on, or certainly a truism that I swear by: a real-life singing Chihuahua is infinitely preferable to digital ones with headdresses, singing and dancing and swarming over a Mayan pyramid like ants.