Everyone was tweeting last night about the Munk debate in Toronto between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens over the contribution of religion to the world’s ills and/or comforts. I myself was driving back from Gulalala to San Francisco, and am now searching around for an online digital replay. Before the debate Hitchens sat down with Toronto Globe & Mail‘s editorial board editor John Geiger for a general discussion about same. Here is segment #1, segment #2 and segment #3.
First a persuasive dismissive review from the New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane, and now a follow-up from N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis. Tell me how this doesn’t translate into some level of difficulty for The King’s Speech. And, unlike Lane, Dargis doesn’t even tumble for Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush‘s performances — she likes Guy Pearce‘s King Edward VIII instead.
“Like many entertainments of this pop-historical type, The King’s Speech wears history lightly no matter how heavy the crown,” she says, adding that Firth and Rush are “solid” but “too decent [and] too banal, and the film [is] too ingratiating to resonate deeply.”
Pearce, however, is “fantastic…mercurially sliding between levels of imperiousness and desperation, he creates a thorny tangle of complications in only a few abbreviated scenes, and when his new king viciously taunts Bertie, you see the entirety of their cruel childhood flashing between them. By the time he abdicates in 1936, publicly pledging himself to Mrs. Simpson (‘the woman I love’), turning the throne over to King George VI, Edward has a hold on your affections.”
“Great meals fade upon reflection — everything else gains,” a great hustler of the past once said. But has Inception gained? I know it upticked between viewing #1 (which frustrated due to shitty sound at a non-IMAX showing at Manhattan’s Lincoln Square) and viewing #2 (a very high-quality IMAX screening at San Francisco’s Metreon with knockout sound). But since then Inception has kind of settled down and levelled out. It’s one of the most thrilling mind-fuck movies of all time, but I’m just not that into seeing it again on Bluray. Go figure.
Okay, I’m half into watching it a couple of weeks hence. But I’m not feeling all tingly about this. On one level I want to see it again, and on another level I kind of fucking don’t. I’m not sure I want to own it, to be honest. I may just Netflix it.
I got really sick of that slow-mo image of the van going off the bridge and into the water during my second viewing. I don’t know if I can take watching that again. It was even pissing me off the first time. “All right already…Jesus fuck,” I was muttering. “How long is it going to take for the van to hit the water? I could go out and hit the head and buy another popcorn and check my messages and it would still be falling when I get back.”
The thing I most want to see is a 44-minute Extras doc called “Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious,” in which “top scientists make the case that the dream world is not an altered state of consciousness, but a fully functional parallel reality.”
My Inception history has been primarily defined by my relationship with Ken Watanabe‘s dialogue. I could barely hear what he was saying during viewing #1, I could comprehend 70% to 80% of his dialogue during the IMAX screening, and I know for sure I’ll be able to hear every last word when I watch him on the Bluray. Ken — nice to know you finally!
TheWrap‘s Steve Pond has not only written one of the most depressing Oscar-season columns I’ve read over the past several weeks, but one of the most infuriating. The simple acknowledging of idiot-wind opinions held by those legendary “older conservative Academy members” gives them a kind of legitimacy, and that they don’t deserve this. Oh, and only 200 people showing up to see 127 Hours is merely another example of arm-carve anxiety. Everyone knows it’s out there. I brought my 127 Hours screener to my Thanksgiving sleep-over house in Gualala, and nobody even asked about it, much less popped it into the DVD player.
This morning I was admiring the catchy eyesore appeal of Bones Roadhouse in downtown Gualala. The flames in the sign tell you they’re into charbroiled beef — very distinctive, guys. Not mention the “great ocean views.” And the loud brownish rust color of the exterior accented by those Indian red window frames is startling. This is the downside of American free enterprise — i.e., people with atrocious taste being allowed to not only design their own storefronts but pollute the aesthetic atmosphere of the nearby area.
Remnant of typical home in Gualala in the old days (i.e., maybe 100 years ago). Imagine what the founding residents of this community would think and feel if they came back to 2010 Gualala and stood in front of Bones.
A friend asked why I’ve been ranting about the failure of Collider‘s Steve Weintraub to step up to the plate and post whatever favorable opinions he may have about William Monahan‘s London Boulevard, which has opened in London and gotten creamed by most critics. Weintraub has stated he hasn’t posted a review because Monahan showed him the film as a friend and not as a critic. I think that’s a moot point once a film opens theatrically.
“How about when one of your director pallies shows you something early and tells you not to write about it?,” the friend asked. “Seriously, is keeping your word that fucking foreign a concept to you?”
My answer: If I’d been shown Sylvester Stallone‘s Edgar Allen Poe biopic in private, let’s say, and had promised not to write anything, I would surely hold to that deal, of course. But at a certain point, keeping your word on this kind of thing is not only meaningless but cowardly. If the Poe bipic was to suddenly open in England (which is the same as opening in NY or LA) and get critically killed, you can bet your boots that if liked it, I’d stand up and be a man and argue with the naysaying critics right then and there. Unlike the trembling, shivering churchmouse known as Steve Weintraub.
“London Boulevard has opened in England. That means that no matter what city or country your’e living in, THE JIG IS UP. We all live in one big community these days. There are no nations, no borders, no passports, no language barriers…there is only CyberTown. So whenever a movie opens in any major market (London, NY, LA, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo), ALL BETS ARE OFF. You stick to your word about not reviewing a film until it opens in a major market, and then it’s “olly olly in come free.”
And I mean especially if you’re a friend of the filmmaker. When his/her film opens and it gets hit by mixed or bad reviews, it’s your DUTY as a friend to stand up and do the right thing…if you liked it, half-liked it or found it partly valuable, I mean. No matter what the friend or his/her publicist says, you jump into the fray. Because come the week of an opening in a major market, the review cat is TOTALLY OUT OF THE BAG. It is wimpy to an extreme to not say something about a film you ostensibly like when a film opens and is put down by a majority of critics. You have to stand by your friends, come hell or high water.
Post-chemo, ailing Michael Douglas appears to be in the pink. A few weeks ago the supermarket tabs ran photos that made him look a little ghoulish. But in this two-day-old photo, taken at Orlando’s Epcot center, he looks healthy and gleaming. The fact that cancer causes weight loss obviously isn’t a “good” thing, but there’s no denying that Douglas looks better in this family photograph than he has in a long time.
Thanks to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone for the pass-along.
If you’re gonna do a Sylvester Stallone imitation, you have to stay away from yelling “Adrienne!” That’s for chumps. Serious Stallone mimics tend to use (a) his signature line from First Blood — i.e., “They drew first blood, not me” and (b) the opening line from Edgar Allen Poe‘s “The Raven,” which alludes to Stallone’s long-simmering intention to direct or star in a Poe biopic.
All you have to do is try and simulate Stallone’s reedy baritone voice, his New York-ish accent, the vaguely sneering tone and his slight speech impediment. He has problems with t’s and especially r’s. And so you say the First Blood line as follows: “They dew fuhst bluhd, nahmee.” And you sat the first line of “The Raven” as, “Wanz uppahn a mitnight duhreerwee.”
Outdoor rib roast on Gualala’s main street.
Thursday, 11.25, 7:55 am
Before today I’d never once seen a sign offering pizza and ice cream as a horse-and-carriage combo. I mean, that’s slightly disgusting.
Actual wild turkeys. They crossed the road as a tight posse, ran when I tried to inch closer for a better shot.
One thing I’m extremely thankful for is the apparently probable Presidential campaign of Sarah Palin, and the fact that at least one semi-reasonable guy (i.e., Bob Cesca) believes she could actually be elected by way of a sociopolitical perfect storm. The likelihood of her actually running against Obama is zero, of course, but dreaming about this makes me feel so warm and comfortable. A female Greg Stillson for President! Nobody appreciates the irony as much as David Cronenberg and Stephen King.
I’d read several reviews and some excerpts from Keith Richards and James Fox‘s “Life,” but I didn’t settle into the book until two days ago. I don’t trust book reviewers — I think they tend to gush, like movie critics, over anything that’s half-decent. So I was genuinely surprised and relieved when it turned out that “Life” actually is an exceptionally honest and well-written showbiz tale, and a bit more.
Rock musicians aren’t supposed to be this lean, well-phrased and generally articulate. My suspicion is that Richards didn’t “write” a fucking word of this thing (he probably talked into a digicorder and let Fox do the rest), but it’s still my idea of a stand-out in this realm. Martin Scorsese or someone close to his level needs to make a No Direction Home-like documentary of Richards’ life, using this as a template.
All my life I’ve thought of Richards as a great rock ‘n’ roll musician but an even greater druggie degenerate. A guy who can play like Chuck Berry-plus but who slurs his words and has forgotten half the stuff he’s experienced since the early ’60s. A miracle enough that he’s not dead, I thought when I first heard of this. It would be a bit much, I thought, to expect that he might write (or co-write) a decent book. Keith is 66 and past his prime, and is probably so groggy and stumbling around that he can barely sip tea at tea time…right?
No, dead wrong, re-think it, shut up.
“It’s an eye-opening all-nighter in the studio with a master craftsman disclosing the alchemical secrets of his art,” wrote N.Y. Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani. “And it’s the intimate and moving story of one man’s long strange trip over the decades, told in dead-on, visceral prose without any of the pretense, caution or self-consciousness that usually attend great artists sitting for their self-portraits…Mr. Richards has found a way to channel his own avidity, his own deep soul hunger for music and to make us feel the connections that bind one generation of musicians to another.”
Sample passage (from page 251): “Levitation is is probably the closest analogy to what I feel — whether it’s ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ or ‘Satisfaction’ or ‘All Down The Line’ — when I realize I’ve hit the right tempo and the band’s behind me. It’s like taking off in a Learjet. I have no sense that my feet are touching the ground. I’m elevated to this other place. People say, ‘Why don’t you give it up?’ I can’t retire until I croak. I don’t think they quite understand what I get out of this. I’m not doing it just for the money or for you. I’m doing it for me.”
The “years of waiting and months of preparation” thing plus learning the moves like a pro with the anorexic ballet-dancer bod is what seals the Best Actress deal for Natalie Portman. What she did is analogous to Robert De Niro‘s commitment to playing muscular and fat Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. Once this settles in among the rank-and-file, it’s over.