I’m looking at that “never compromise” slogan and thinking how the anti-Obama 21st Century righties would rather pull down the temple than be responsible legislators, and I’m telling myself that’s how all nutbag righties are — no compromise, pure agenda, we’re doing the bidding of the rightwing God. And I’m smiling again at the notion of putting them all into green concentration camps. So no heart-swelling emotional currents for Meryl’s Maggie Thatcher…not from this corner, at least.
And yet I know, perversely, that I’m going to enjoy the hell out of Streep’s performance. I think we all know that.
Gold Derby‘s experts are weirdly attached to the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio becoming a big Best Actor contender in J. Edgar. Maybe, maybe…but after that dicey J. Edgar trailer I’d be hedging my bets. (In truth I’m sensing a possible fall-off down the road.) Right now the Derby boys and girls have my personal fave, Moneyball‘s Brad Pitt, in third place with 73%. The Descendants‘ George Clooney, the most likely winner of the moment, has 100% and DiCaprio is sitting at 91%. Tinker Tailor‘s Gary Oldman is fourth with 64%.
Update: Moneyball‘s 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating (as of 10:20 am on 9.23) is just a notch behind The Social Network‘s final tally of 96%. But the latter reviews are warmer and more affectionate and…grateful? Elite critics are having a ball with Bennett Miller ‘s film. You can feel the elation. Finally a movie with a fresh game…one to write about with real feeling and spirit…a sports film that’s not a sports film so how to describe it just so? And there’s the fun.
Bertrand Blier‘s Going Places (’74) is one of the most curiously seductive films ever made about loutish, anarchic, groin-driven swagger. Gerard Depardieu and the late Patrick Dewaere are a pair of easygoing counter-culture brutes who fall into a series of sloppy impulsive adventures, and yet never act in what you’d call an especially harsh or cruel manner. They’re dopey animals in a sense, and in another a couple of social adventurers looking to see what they can get away with.
Let’s steal this or fuck that…anything we want. We’re young and brash and can always get it up, etc. What else matters? We’re bulletproof. What does her underwear smell like? Aaahh…she’s very young!
They steal scooters or cars or food or money, and are constantly on the hunt for poon. They’re careless cads and improvisational jerkoffs, kicking around to kick around and see where the day takes them. And yet they’re boyishly innocent and nowhere near smart or mean or ambitious enough to become serious criminals. They’re just playing it by ear. They love sex and chasing after women, but they don’t have the first clue what women are really about or what they want. And, being boobs, everything these guys get into either backfires or turns out unexpectedly or delivers some kind of fake-out surprise.
The film itself is like Depardieu and Dewaere, ambling along without seeming to have any particular plan, and in so doing it gradually charms you into taking their side or least not wanting to see them get caught. It gives you an idea of what a hooligan high can feel like, to break the law and laugh and not give a damn. It’s quite a trick. I don’t think any American film about small-time bad guys has ever managed the same kind of mood or chemistry.
“I have never seen Bertrand Blier’s raucous, lyrical road comedy Going Places without noticing at least one audience member stalking out in disgust,” Taylor writes. “In a way that’s an honest reaction. Mr. Blier means to rough you up, just as his two loutish heroes rough up the people they encounter. It’s not bullying, more like someone telling you not to worry if you get grease on your pressed shirt or dirt under your nails. Mr. Blier means to make us feel more alive, more in touch with simple, sensual, irresponsible pleasure.
“Gerard Depardieu’s Jean-Claude and Patrick Dewaere’s Pierrot are dirty enough for Henry Miller, but they also could be offspring of D. H. Lawrence‘s happy idiot. In their dumb, brutish way they revere the familiar mystery of sex and are in awe of nature.
“Working from his novel, Mr. Blier follows the two buddies as they steal and fight and rut their way across France. Mr. Depardieu and Dewaere are a Neanderthal comedy team with hot pants and rocks in their heads.
“Mr. Blier understands that the self-justification in the pair’s anti-establishment talk is just a ruse to see how much they can get away with. But he also challenges the mechanized alienation of the world that shuns them, nowhere more so than in Jeanne Moreau‘s devastating cameo as a woman just released from prison who tells the men how the cold, unnatural experience of being incarcerated stopped her menstrual cycle. It’s as if this society has developed the power of freezing out nature.
“What the movie’s detractors missed is that everything Jean-Claude and Pierrot do backfires on them, right up until the sleek black joke of the final shot. When they come on like studs, determined to give the zonked beautician (Miou-Miou) they’ve picked up the time of her life in the sack, she lies there compliant and bored as they work overtime showing off.
“Going Places harks back to the plein-air tradition of ’30s French films, like Jean Renoir‘s Day in the Country, and farther, to Renoir’s father, Auguste. Watching the film is like seeing what Renoir pere’s rosy-cheeked picnickers got up to after the country dances and the food: the grease on their cheeks, the grass stains on their knees.”
Weather.com says it’s 71 degrees in New York right now (i.e., 10 am). That’s a lie. It feels like the Guatemalan lowlands — humid, sticky air — in the rainy season. And I’ve left my umbrella at home. Last night the E train wasn’t running again, the L train crawled along as usual, and I waited 15 or 16 minutes for the G train a little after 11 pm. There’s no air to speak of on the platforms, and more than a few Brooklyn stops offer a faint aroma of urine to the weary traveller.
It goes without saying this is what most of us are looking for in our lives — weeds growing through cracked sidewalks, sporadic rainshowers, sticky air, crack dens, interminable late-night waiting on subway platforms and the smell of piss.
This morning I was walking Joey, my son’s dog, around the intersection of Hart Street and Tompkins Avenue. It’s as if somebody walked around with a huge bag of paper-product garbage — empty coffee cups, fast-food wrappers, newspaper shreds, used toilet paper — are just threw it around until every square yard was littered. What kind of people live like this? I’ve been to Europe and Africa and Mexico and in every corner of this country, and this is easily the scuzziest neighborhood I’ve ever seen or smelled.
Last night I was walking by a group of young guys on a stoop — it was around 12:30 am — and they were all eyeballing me and the camera around my neck, etc. I was thinking “they’re the lions and I’m the wildebeest, and they’re trying to detect if I’m old or weak enough to be taken down.”
I’m moving to a new crib if I can on Sunday or Monday. I’ve had it with Bed-Stuy. And maybe, just maybe, New York can deliver on some traditional fall weather. I remember what late September used to feel like in the tristate area. You could wear sweaters in the evening. Now it’s Panama City.
Living in the cheaper areas of New York City isn’t really “living” — it’s making do as best you can, getting along, surviving, toughing it out. With occasional piles of dogshit on the sidewalk.
And yet today I’ll be attending a luncheon on east 58th Street, thrown by the Hamptons Film Festival and Frank P.R. And then i’ll attend a screening of Tahrir at the Walter Reade theatre at 3:15 pm. And maybe just for fun I’ll catch an 8:30 pm showing of Thief (i.e., part of the Tuesday Weld festival) at the same venue. So it’s not all bad.
Four months after the Led Zeppelin-scored Girl With The Dagon Tattoo teaser broke in early June, the first longish, plot-indicating, dialogue-prominent trailer is up. Three minutes and 45 seconds. Rooney Mara performs with a slight Swedish accent; Daniel Craig (who, by the way, attended last night’s ides of March screening at MOMA) with his natural British accent. No more “feed-bad movie of Christmas” tagline.