The Hollywood Roosevelt is jammed with a mixture of movie lovers of this or that denomination, second- and third-tier industry hobknobbers and poorly dressed out-of-towners (many of them wearing sandals with socks, kakhi shorts and madras short-sleeve shirts) in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Really…nothing says “visiting from Flagstaff, Arizona for the weekend” like a madras shirt. Don’t these people realize that, or don’t they care? I’m walking around in my dark jacket and black shades like Napoleon Solo, casually noting their behavior and acting all neutral-like.
I’m told that Barbra Streisand won’t be showing up for red-carpet interviews prior to tonight’s TCM Classic Film Festival premiere of a digitally restored Funny Girl. (Which I don’t want to see, by the way — too stodgy and schmaltzy.) Streisand lives here and as far as I know could show if she wanted to. (It’s possible that she’s unavoidably tied up with something important in some other city but I doubt it.) She’s known for blowing off this or that tribute event. She doesn’t like being photographed or interviewed or besieged by autograph hounds. But a lot of work went into this restoration and the TCM Classic Film Festival could use the flashbulbs. She could have been gracious about it.
4:02 pm Update: It’s nothing — a swelling from a fight he got into with a squirrel or something. Needs to be drained. Antibiotics, pain meds, stay indoors for five days.
Earlier: Last night I felt a large lump in the chest area of my Siamese cat, Mouse. It’s probably one of those benign lumps that cats and dogs get every so often. But it’s my fault that Mouse is obese and on some level I’m presuming that this lump has something to do with the shitty Purina Fancy Feast corn-meal food I’ve been feeding him. I’ve been too cheap to buy the super-healthy organic dry food that pet stores sell at premium prices, and Mouse won’t eat the small portions of damp food that I try feeding him every day. I have a 3:20 pm appointment at Laurel Pet Hospital, and then I have to pick up my TCM Classic Film Festival pass.
During yesterday’s chat with Mud director-writer Jeff Nichols, I shared my admiration for the way he wrote and directed the performances by the two kids, played by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. Sheridan in particular. Nichols doesn’t have him speak or behave in a typical “movie kid” fashion, or in a way that broadly conveys that the kid is naive and wide-eyed and emotionally vulnerable, etc. And all but totally ignorant about human nature and the realities of life.
(l. to. r.) Mud costars Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey.
Sheridan’s “Ellis” character, who’s supposed to be around 14, knows his way around. He’s a kid in some ways but he’s not an idiot and he notices things, and his eyes don’t lie or look away much. He has a naive faith in the idea of true love, but I bought that. He acts the way I felt and probably behaved when I was 14. I knew a few things. I knew about watching my back and being on guard and reading adults for their weaknesses and strengths, and that it wasn’t wise to be friendly with dickheads or assholes.
I stole the line about eyes that don’t lie and don’t look away much. Here’s a portion of a scene that the line comes from. Anyone can find out what film it’s from:
Woman: You…you have a lot of very fine qualities. But…
Man: What fine qualities?
Woman: You have good eyes. Not kind, but they don’t lie, and they don’t look away much, and they don’t miss anything. I could use eyes like that.
Man: But you’re overdue in Vermont. Is he a tough guy?
Woman: He’s pretty tough.
Man: What will he do?
Woman: Understand, probably.
Man: Boy, that is tough.
I didn’t have anything to add yesterday to a quickly growing consensus that the seriously loaded Zach Braff is abusing the Kickstarter option by asking fans for dough to make Wish I Was Here, a character-driven dramedy about an loser-ish, arrested-development kind of guy (to be played by Braff) who finds himself and grows up a bit by home-schooling his kids.
Braff says in his pitch that he couldn’t get the kind of financing from the usual sources that would have allowed him to make his film without compromises.
I agree with the anti-Braff pushbackers. He’s connected enough to slap together some kind of deal, I’m sure. Maybe not a perfect deal but that’s life in the big city & tough shit.. Kickstarter movie-finance campaigns are supposed to be for people who aren’t rich or famous, who have no options except to appeal to online supporters. Here’s how HE reader Aaron Lindquist puts it:
“To me, this is the definition of asshole: already being a millionaire and pretending you’re a poor, independent filmmaker. It’s unethical. [Contributors to Braff’s Kickstarter campaign] would be giving money to someone who does not need it and encouraging more established film industry types to piss into the well that is Kickstarter. We should be helping build artists of all types, who don’t have the means to make their projects happen any other way. We shouldn’t let a viable outlet for indie financing become polluted with the same mainstream ideas that crowd-funding has sought to escape.
“Am I the only one who sees the potential for the industry to muck this up (just like they mucked up indie financing and distribution in the 90s)? — Warm regards, Aaron”
Yesterday’s reactions to the HE re-design (which I had worked on for three or four days) were almost entirely negative and often dismissive. People were nice but straight about it, and many comments were constructive and helpful. So the hell with it. The integrity of the HE World Trade Center skyscraper will stay the same and it’s back to square one.
But I’m keeping the flash box (i.e., little moving bullet-links to hot stories & items) and I’m keeping the Discriminator box — I like it and it’s staying put with a permanent second-story position. And I’m expanding the Twitter box to 460 pixels and putting it on top of the Oscar Balloon, or just after the tenth story. All within the classic skyscraper structure. And I’m adding Twitter and Facebook links to the end of every story. And I’m trimming the after-the-Oscar Balloon posts from 20 to 10, which will load faster. So the front page will henceforth have 10 posts above and 10 posts below the Twitter/oscar Balloon space — 20 instead of 30 posts altogether.
A professional redesign guy or two will take a look at the site in a week or two and maybe suggest some changes. I’ll see what happens. One step at a time. Everything in its own time. And I might chicken out on the Twitter box if there are enough complaints, but right now I just don’t see the harm.
In his review of Michael Bay‘s Pain & Gain, N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott describes the Paramount release as “two hours of sweat, blood and cheerful, nasty vulgarity, punctuated by voice-over ruminations about Jesus, physical fitness and the American dream, along with a few tactical visits to a strip club. It all leaves you pondering whether you have just seen a monumentally stupid movie or a brilliant movie about the nature and consequences of stupidity. Why choose?”
(l. to r.) Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthomy Mackie in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain
Good closing graph: “While not exactly glorifying the crimes of the Sun Gym gang, Mr. Bay does not entirely condemn them either. A different kind of director might have made Pain & Gain into a gamy, gritty sunshine noir, or else a knowing satire of idiot America. The easy move would be to invite the audience to look down on Daniel, Paul and Adrian, but Mr. Bay’s brand of populism holds them rigorously and maddeningly at eye level. The movie and, by implication, those of us watching it are no better than these guys. I found that unspeakably insulting and also impressive.”
In my book Prince of the City is the greatest epic New York film ever. A huge cast of New Yorky character actors playing the greatest assemblage of New Yorky characters ever. Dirty cops, prosecutors, mafia guys, junkies, feds, more dirty cops and last but not least, the great Jerry Orbach as Gus Levy. A profane, rude, emotional, gritty, smelly, tangy, exhausting, amazing film. Huge plates of spaghetti and meat balls splattered all over the floor.
Press Play essay by Steven Santos. Here’s Part Two.
I spoke this afternoon with Mud director-writer Jeff Nichols — a nice Austin guy, calm and bright and gifted. We sat for 15 or 20 minutes in the Four Seasons bar/lounge, but the music was so loud I have a feeling it’ll be hard to hear him when I edit the recording tomorrow morning. Any way you slice it Mud (Lionsgate/Roadside, 4.26) is one of the year’s best so far. A mature, well-honed coming-of-age story about love, bonding, betrayal and illusion. Not a drop of treacly sentiment, no pandering to the saps.
Mud director-writer Jeff Nichols.
I don’t know how well Mud will perform (the title may prove a roadblock for some), but I know that the decision by costar Reese Witherspoon‘s publicist to cancel her client’s appearances on two or three talk shows was a rash and cowardly thing. I know this didn’t help Mud‘s prospects at the box-office and that it almost certainly hurt to some degree. Witherspoon’s girly-girl fans wouldn’t have attended in huge numbers but a certain percentage would have come, and now that percentage will be smaller.
The publicist didn’t want Witherspoon discussing her recent arrest a few days ago after getting mouthy with a cop. It could have been laughed off. Witherspoon could have made herself look loose and cool. Who hasn’t made a mistake after drinking too much? What celebrity doesn’t expect to be treated with deference, especially after they’ve had a few? How many hundreds of times have we read the quote “do you know who I am?” She could have woman-ed up and faced the music like Hugh Grant did after his blowjob, but she chickened out.
Repeating for clarity’s sake: Mud is steady, solid and delivered just right. One of the finest Southern-flavored dramas about small-town rural values that I’ve ever seen, right up there with Sling Blade, Tender Mercies, The Straight Story, The Trip to Bountiful.