George Pal‘s The Time Machine (’60) is too old-fogeyish to connect with Millenials or even young GenXers, but you can’t beat the metaphor of the Eloi — undereducated lightweights robotically submitting to the call of their corporate masters. It’s interesting that Eloi behavior didn’t really manifest in appreciable numbers until….when, sometime in the early ’80s with the arrival of MTV and mega-malls and other corporate lures? Initially contained in H.G. Wells‘ 1895 novella but delivered with greater impact by the sight of Yvette Mimieu and her brainless brethren walking blindly into the Morlock caves, “Eloi” became a favored HE term starting about six or seven years ago. Does anyone even remember Simon Wells‘ The Time Machine (’02)? I don’t. A Bluray of the ’60 version will street in mid July.
I was reading a Vulture piece by Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge about early influences from the art/entertainment realm. He mentioned the National Lampoon and its artists, among them Drew Friedman. I suddenly remembered I haven’t seen (and am not presently seeing) enough Friedman illustrations in my life. Yes, naturally, of course — I’ll always feel indebted to Friedman for that Last Action Hero/Arnold Schwarzenegger drawing, which appeared in Spy sometime in the fall of ’93. It’s been hanging, framed, on my living room wall for over two decades.
I don’t relate to the Cadillac guy (played by Neil McDonough) for two reasons. One, he’s obviously a Republican and probably worships the idea of one-percentism and income inequality and doesn’t give a shit about climate change. And two, he’s got pale, pinkish, all-but-hairless legs. His worldview is almost identical to the one voiced by Stephen Boyd‘s Messala character in that courtyard scene with Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur. But I don’t relate to the Ford-promoting Pasho Murray either. What’s with the super-sized Afro? (And what time is the Free Angela Davis rally?) And collecting zoo manure? Locally-grown food is an excellent way to go but I draw the line at picking up giraffe and lion turds with chopsticks and putting them into plastic baggies.
From Anita Busch‘s Deadline box-office report, updated this morning: “Noah was playing like a mainstream movie when it opened, but that [box-office] bump indicates that it had some cross-over from the faith-based audiences which [are continuing] to keep God’s Not Dead in business. Although based on the Biblical story, Noah doesn’t mention the name God once. How funny that God’s Not Dead [has] made such a surprise second weekend showing, as if to say, ‘Oh yeah?’”
What is this, a revival meeting under a tent in Corpus Christi, Texas?
Perhaps Busch didn’t get the memo so I’ll resend: Cheering for the God team isn’t cool among Los Angeles industry types. With this crowd you’ve gotta go agnostic, atheistic, dispassionate, Bill Maher‘s Religulous…whatever. If you’re a spiritual-leaning type go with Hinduism, Buddhism or Taoism but leave “God” out of it. It’s a cultural thing — you don’t want to side with the fundamentalist yokels. Why in any event would you want to believe in “God” as some kind of cosmic moral force who has a rooting interest in the human condition? The idea of reducing an eternally perfect cosmic symphony of science and math and mystery and altogetherness into an entity with a personality who ponders the moralistic fate of the residents of a speck of micro-mulch known as planet Earth….why, it’s insulting!
“Wickedest of all is the casting of the in-house temptress, who praises Arthur’s work to his face and then destroys it in front of others. (A colleague excuses her fickleness as an ‘amorous gesture.’) Her governing principles are clear: Treachery! Disunity! Lingerie! She is played by Julie Gayet, who was in the news recently as the woman to whom the real French president, Francois Hollande, was paying regular visits to on his little scooter. And the name of her character is Valerie, which is the name of the partner whom Hollande was allegedly spurning for Mme. Gayet. This is not life imitating art. This is art going to bed with life and staying there for the rest of the afternoon.” — from Anthony Lane‘s New Yorker review of Bertrand Tavernier‘s The French Minister (IFC Films/Sundance Selects, date), otherwise known as Quai d’Orsay.
A little suspicion is in order when the Houston-residing Joe Leydon reviews a film set in Texas and/or written by a Texan. You just can’t trust that local-pride factor. Better to consult Hollywood Reporter critic John DeFore, to wit: “Robert Duvall and Bill Witliff return to the Southwest in Emilio Aragon‘s A Night in Old Mexico, where the Lonesome Dove screenwriter and its irascible star follow an aging rancher on an ill-advised trip South of the Border. Formulaic and often hard to swallow, the picture offers little beyond the familiar pleasures of Duvall’s old-coot mode; it has moderate theatrical appeal, but will stand as a blip in its star’s filmography compared to Dove and his other cowpoke outings.” Never forget the immaculate restraint in Duvall’s Tender Mercies performance — one for the ages.
No particular reason to post this summer 1963 snap except that I’m queer for old color Times Square marquee photos. I had never seen a shot of the Cleopatra marquee until today. The Todd-AO process that was used to shoot Cleopatra was a degraded, 24-frame version of the 30-frame process used to shoot Oklahoma!
Stanley Kubrick hugging daughter Vivian during filming of The Shining in 1979. Until today I’d never seen a photo of Kubrick being physically affectionate with anyone. Vivian, 18 or 19 at the time of the photo, joined the Church of Scientology sometime around 1999, the year her father died. A resident of Los Angeles, Vivian has been, according to Kubrick’s widow Christiane, largely estranged from the family and uncommunicative for several years. She allegedly attended LACMA’s Stanley Kubrick exhibit more than once and, according to a friend, with some regularity on Tuesdays. (Photo source: theoverlookhotel.com)
Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., a classy, first-rate screenwriter who peaked in the late ’60s and ’70s but is probably best known to 21st Century types for his “Real Geezers” video critiques with Marcia Nasatir, died earlier today. His best screenplays were Pretty Poison (’68), The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (’71), Papillon (co-penned with Dalton Trumbo, ’73), The Parallax View (co-written by David Giler, ’74), The Drowning Pool (’75) and Three Days of the Condor (with additional flavorings and grace notes by David Rayfiel, ’75). Semple was a sharp, shrewd, blunt-spoken professional — my kind of old guy.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Fred Zinneman‘s Oklahoma! (’55) but I love the 30-frame Todd AO process in which it was originally filmed (along with a concurrent, nearly identical version that was shot in 35mm Scope). An extra six frames per second means exceptional clarity and eye-popping realism, especially when the Todd-AO cameras are moving as the 30-frame process eliminates almost all traces of motion blur. And now it can be savored anew with Fox restoration guru Schawn Belston having restored the 30-frame Oklahoma! to a state that looks even cleaner and more robust than it did on the big curved screen at Manhattan’s Rivoli when it opened on 10.11.55.
In the 32 years since Warren Beatty won the Best Director Oscar for Reds, he’s directed three films and acted in four — one film every 4.5 years. And if he could have written his life story with any candor or zeal he could have delivered one of the greatest Balzac-ian novels of the 20th Century because he knows (or knew) everyone and has been through and absorbed it all and has a million epic stories under his belt. But that’s water under the bridge. The visually dazzling Dick Tracy (’90) and the politically radical Bulworth (’98) are as audacious and well-crafted as Reds in their own way, and now he’s shooting his long-gestating Howard Hughes flick. Plus he’s acted in a notorious wipeout that eventually became a cult comedy (Ishtar), a riveting, highly intelligent gangster flick (Bugsy), a dud remake that also lost money (Love Affair) and a financially calamitous marital infidelity comedy (Town and Country) that was a lot better than most people remember and has at least one classic scene (i.e., when he’s confronted by Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn about having cheated and he goes through a whole irate “how dare you even ask such a thing?” rant.). Obviously too little activity, but Beatty has never aimed low (or even at the middle) or taken a straight paycheck gig. He even managed to perplexingly turn down the David Carradine role in Kill Bill.
Over the last 40-plus years Jerry Bruckheimer‘s producing career has gone through four phases. Phase #1 was his solo run from ’72 through ’84 (Thief, Cat People). JB’s successful partnership with Don Simpson (Flashdance to Dangerous Minds), lasting 11 or 12 years, was Phase 2. The five-year-long Phase 3 (from Simpson’s death in January ’96 until Pearl Harbor) was Bruckheimer’s solid-gold period, a time when “produced by Jerry Bruckheimer” meant elite, sharply-written, sirloin-steak guy movies like The Rock, Con Air, Enemy of the State, Armageddon, Remember the Titans, Gone in Sixty Seconds and Black Hawk Down.
It gives me no pleasure to note that Phase 4 (’01 to ’14) has mostly been a “fuck it, go for the corporate family-entertainment money” period. Bruckheimer could man up and return to Phase 3, but it’ll never happen. Jerry knows it, I know it, we all know it. Alan Moore‘s famous remark about how “in our lifetime, we will see Johnny Depp playing Captain Crunch” was obviously a direct comment about the attitude that Bruckheimer adopted in the 21st Century.
Two and half years ago I posted a riff about misunderstood (or deceptively mis-pronounced) pop lyrics. Example: Whenever I listen to Smokey Robson and the Miracles‘ “(The Love I Saw in You Was) Just A Mirage,” instead of the phrase “now all that’s left are lipstick traces” I hear “now all that’s left, I miss Dick Tracy.”
I was standing in a checkout line at Staples last week, and the p.a. system was playing Manfred Mann‘s “Doo-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-doo.” I know that the chorus goes “now I’m hers, she’s mine…I’m hers, she’s mine, wedding bells are gonna chime.” But all my life I’ve heard the following: “Now I’m hurt, she’s mad…I’m hurt, she’s mad, wedding bells are gonna chime.” Yes, obviously, I know…why would there be wedding bells if he’s hurt and she’s mad? I’ve been hearing it this way regardless. It’s the singer’s fault. He can’t say the word “hers” and sound rock-and-roll guttural so he pronounced it as “hurt.” And it sounds dorky to sing “miiyeen” so he decided to pronounce it as “mahhnn” and it came it like “mad.” So don’t blame me.