I’m too lazy to have bought or rented the BBC series Life on Mars, about a present-tense cop finding himself time-transported back to 1973. But it has a relatively good rep. Which is why an American version of this series will debut on ABC on 10.9 with Jason O’Mara as the time-traveller and Harvey Keitel as his older, grizzled partner.
If you research it, indications pile up that the ABC version may turn out to be on the trite or mediocre side.
One, jokes about the differences between the two time periods appear to be on the level of the same type of material in the first Back to the Future, and this kind of thing can get old very quickly.
Two, TV.com reports that O’Mara’s character “ends up working on a case involving a serial killer that may have something to do with his girlfriend’s kidnapping in the present time,” and there’s a line in the ABC promo reel in which a female colleague says to O’Mara that “maybe you’re here for a reason” — kiss of death!
And three, David E. Kelley wrote and executive produced the Life on Mars pilot, and yet the N.Y. Times has reported that Kelley “has handed over the production responsibilities to others.” Wikipedia reports that ABC ordered an overhaul in which the “unsatisfying” ambiguity of Sam’s story was removed in favor of a “mythological element” and “deeper mystery”. In other words, it’s probably been downgraded or dumbed-down.
Seriously — this guy is Ironman. And a perfect Herzog hero. First-rate Jetman footage of his flights (a high-quality mini-digital camera strapped to his helmet) would be awesome. All right, the German newscaster is what made me think of Herzog initially, but this is an idea that gets better and better the more you think about it. A great doc waiting to happen.
Update: All right, all right, maybe John McCain said “coursh” (as if “of course”) rather than “horseshit.” But that’s only because I’ve been told over and over that he said “coursh” — it’s the power of suggestion. Even if I still believe in my heart that he said “horseshit.”
Earlier today: Thanks to HE reader George Prager for spotting the portion of last night’s debate in which McCain said “horseshit” twice. I’ve listened to this MSNBC clip over ten times now and there doesn’t seem to be any question about it. The first “horseshit” happens at 4:31, Obama says “Spain is a NATO ally” and the second “horseshit” is spoken right on top of this, just before 4:33. I’ve recorded it and copied it four times in this mp3 clip, but the video sound — naturally, being a generation closer — is more distinct.
The “horseshit” observation originally came from Andrew Sullivan, who has since backed off and is allowing that McCain may have actually said “course not.” Listen to the clip again — the second syllable of McCain doesn’t have a “not” sound. The difference between “shit” and “not” is fairly distinct.
Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone was the first to post a report of Paul Newman‘s death last night, but the source seemed a wee bit dicey and I decided to wait until this morning. But just to run it down I called Newman’s biographer-in-progress Shawn Levy — he was uncertain also. And very sleepy. (And so was I.)
Now the news is confirmed. Frank Galvin, Hud Bannon, Henry Gondorff, Cool Hand Luke, Rocky Graziano, Butch Cassidy, Reggie Dunlop, Lew Harper and Eddie Felson have left the room for good. We’ve all known it was coming for months, but there’s something about the finality or, as Bob Dylan once put it, the honesty of death that seeps right into your bloodstream at times, depending on how well you knew the departed and how much you cared and valued his or her presence.
I was very closely acquainted with Paul Newman. He was kin. I felt I knew him as well if not better than my own blood. I knew and cared for him as much as I knew and cared for John Lennon, Cary Grant and the 1950-to-1972 version of Marlon Brando.
The passing of someone close always brings shock and hurt, regardless of forewarning. It’s also scary and sad but there’s no stopping it and we’re all gonna get there — no exceptions. But a life well lived is its own reward, day by day, and not just for the captain of that life but everyone he/she comes into contact with along the way.
All hail the heart and mind that went into the creation of Newman’s Own. And to the spirit behind Newman’s winning lead performance as the bruised but good-natured Reggie in George Roy Hill‘s Slap Shot — perhaps my favorite Newman guy of all.
To quote from Aljean Harmetz‘s obit in the N.Y. Times, which quotes Pauline Kael: “When a role is right for him, he’s peerless. Newman is most comfortable in a role when it isn’t scaled heroically; even when he plays a bastard, he’s not a big bastard — only a callow, selfish one, like Hud. He can play what he’s not — a dumb lout. But you don’t believe it when he plays someone perverse or vicious, and the older he gets and the better you know him, the less you believe it.
“His likableness is infectious; nobody should ever be asked not to like Paul Newman.”
I’m looking to launch HE’s own Oscar handicapper feature this year. I’m thinking of calling it the HE Badass Brigade. Maybe the HE Oscar Badasses would be better. Starting on 10.15 and moving forward from then on. I’m looking to get as many filmmakers to participate as I can. Ones who don’t have a dog in the hunt, I mean. Plus screenwriters, studio guys, agents…along with the usual journo-critics.
Obama came off better than McCain tonight — he’s clearly brainier and more exacting and got in some very good points and zing lines, and he sure as hell didn’t let McCain get away with any of his blah-blah routine — but he wouldn’t do the street-fight thing. He wouldn’t punch or kick or do the slap-down. McCain was the snarly one. The grouch, the jabber, the bulldog prick who wouldn’t stop smirking and making faces and going “heh, heh, heh.”
Obama reportedly did better with independent voters, but I wanted him to be Mike Tyson for a moment or two. The fact that it’s just not in him may as well be faced. He is who he is — cautious, brilliant, mild-mannered, thoughtful, exacting, steady. But he’s not a pit bull and not someone looking to take a swing. And he never will be.
The significant thing, I think, is that McCain never looked at Obama. Never. He was in his own world. When Obama was speaking McCain was smirking, grimacing, giving off those little “God, I can’t believe I have to stand here and listen to this!” looks as he stared at his notes or the floor…the kind of look that a guy gets into when he’s being chewed out by his wife.
As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, “Obama refused to get emotional, never went for the jugular, never talked about the gritty reality. He could have done a helluva better job tonight of talking about what’s really hurting out there.” But Obama — there’s no question about this — held his own. He acted and sounded like a President. And he apparently came through with more debate points than McCain did.
Wait…I’ve seen this supposedly newish trailer for David Fincher‘s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount, 12.25). It looks better in high-def, of course. Glorious, in fact. The exquisite visual quality tells you it’s a first-rate dreamscape experience. Eric Roth‘s screenplay is, take it from me, delicate, eloquent and quite moving. The question, of course, is will it all coagulate?
It’s been one of those distracted days. Only six stories today…shameful. I have to get over to a restaurant/bar in Santa Monica called R + D Kitchen on Montana to see the debate at 6 pm, and then walk across the street to the Aero theatre for a 7:30 screening of The Baader Meinhof Complex, which got panned today by Variety.
It’s no secret that the plot by German military officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the waning days of World War II failed, and that the conspirators — including Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the character portrayed by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie — were shot. So it’s no spoiler to say that I want to see Cruise eat lead at the end of Bryan Singer‘s long-awaited historical thriller.
I want to see him grimace, convulse and fall to the ground. No cutaways, no panning up to gray skies over Berlin as the execution squad captain yells “fire!” and no Che-style POV shots ending with a fade-to-white because Soderbergh owns that for now. Not because I dislike Cruise — I never have — and want to see him “shot”, but because that’s the story and because Stanley Kubrick didn’t cut away when those three soldiers were executed in Paths of Glory. And neither did Bruce Beresford in his Breaker Morant execution scene.
I’m saying this because the Hollywood political rulebook states on page 27 that movie stars rarely die on-screen in brutually realistic fashion. They die off-screen like Gary Cooper did in For Whom The Bell Tolls, or like Paul Newman and Robert Redford did in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They talk things over and say their peace before they die. They die with dignity like Marlon Brando did in Last Tango in Paris. They die quietly (like Leonardo DiCaprio‘s death from hypothermia in Titanic) and then ascend to heaven.
I’m just saying that cutting away when Cruise and his co-conspirators get shot at the end will be a chickenshit kowtow move on the part of Singer. Fair warning.
“Does Diane Keaton owe some loan sharks a considerable amount of cash?,” asks critic Brian Orndorf in his review of Smother (opening 9.26). “Are there incriminating photos of her that she’s trying to keep out of circulation? I’m having trouble understanding why Keaton would, over the course of a single year, take part in both Mama’s Boy and now Smother.
“Perhaps she was poisoned by merciless Asian gangsters with strict instructions to make two career-denting comedies that methodically peel away her integrity before she was allowed the sweet kiss of a life-saving antidote. Heavens, I hope that’s the impetus behind these recent professional decisions, otherwise Keaton has lost her mind.
And what about Keaton’s other two recent stinkers — Mad Money (’08) and Because I Said So (’07)? Has she had her taste buds surgically removed?
“Remember when Keaton was once choosy with her roles,” Orndorf concludes, “waiting years to appear on the big screen in just the right starring vehicles? If the prospect of sharing the frame with Dax Shepard now makes Keaton sprint to the set with pride, it’s obvious those award-winning, reputation-fostering days are over.”
What a comedown from the glory days of The Family Stone (’05), a landmark holiday comedy in which Keaton gave one of her best performances ever. Not to mention another triumph two years earlier when she won a Best Actress nomination for her work in Something’s Got To Give.