Offering your confession to a Catholic priest inside a small, musty Catholic church on Magnolia…stoned. Talking about the Vietnam War while lifting weights at Muscle Beach on a Sunday afternoon…stoned. Watching the Dean Martin Show…stoned. Getting a ticket for straddling lanes on the Santa Monica Freeway…stoned. Sitting in a Venice high-school auditorium with your ex-wife at a Parent-Teacher’s Association meeting…stoned. Sitting in a really choice seat along the third-base line in Dodger Stadium during a night game…stoned. Eating tortilla chips and guacamole at El Cholo on a weeknight…stoned. Talking to a mechanic about your brakes at a garage on Santa Monica Blvd…stoned. Catching a flick at the Fox Venice on Lincoln Blvd…stoned. Going over your tax returns with your accountant…stoned. (Fan art lifted from Awards Daily, created by Alex Fellows.)
I’m half into catching tomorrow night’s screening of Marty Feldman‘s In God We Tru$t (’80) at the New Beverly Cinema. This will apparently be the first time it’s been seen anywhere in 34 years. (No domestic DVD although it’s available via a Region 2 disc.) Roger Ebert hated it and so did Universal, I’m told. “It infuriated Lew Wasserman when Marty used MCA in the same breath as KKK [while naming] powerful organizations in America,” a friend writes. “On top of which the studio was pressured to shelve the anti-religious satire due to all the organizations that Feldman called out by name, similar to what happened with Idiocracy. The movie never even got a network airing.”
Yesterday afternoon I expressed a combination of concern and confusion about Nick Cassevetes having directed The Other Woman (20th Century Fox, 4.25), which has been sold as a broad downmarket farce about three pissed-off ladies (Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton) making a sociopathic philanderer (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pay for his sins. It just seemed a little beneath the director of Alpha Dog, She’s So Lovely and The Notebook. What could this possibly do for his career? On top of which the views of a majority of Rotten Tomatoes Australian critics seemed to underline that the film had problems. But then I saw it last night at the Westwood premiere and realized that (a) I’d been flim-flammed by Fox marketing and (b) some of the Aussies had it wrong.
(l. to r.) The Other Woman costars Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton prior to last night’s Westwood premiere screening.
Taken last night following The Other Woman premiere at the Village.
I’m not doing cartwheels here but I am saying, no lie, that about 70% or 80% of The Other Woman isn’t half bad. I was expecting rank stupidity, but I mostly didn’t get that. It’s not a great film or on the level of Mike Nichols‘ Working Girl or anything, but it’s a lot better that the marketing has indicated. It’s a tiny bit spazzy and silly and predictable in spots — some of it doesn’t work as well as it could or should. But a lot of it is smart and loose and improv-y and on the low-key side. Dumb comedies sometimes piss me off, but not this one. Mann and Diaz and costar Taylor Kinney get into the spirit and carry it aloft and just about bring it home. Woman is almost never conventionally broad, certainly not in the painfully slapstick sense that I was dreading. Melissa Stack‘s screenplay is fast and clever. For me it was no-laugh-funny but a lot of people around me were chuckling and guffawing all the way through.
After nearly ten years of putting persons like myself through acute movie-watching hell, the dynamite writing-and-producing team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are splitting up as far as big-screen projects are concerned. A little more than a year ago I wrote the following in a piece called “Gain World, Lose Soul”: “One of the reasons for the ongoing demise of narrative movies, I believe, is that way, way too many big-studio scripts have been written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who are probably the most successful super-hacks around or are certainly among the most successful in this realm.
“But successfully churning out one highly efficient, mind-numbing screenplay after another (which is not easy…seriously, not everyone can do it), this malignant duo has probably ushered more despair into the hearts of not only rival screenwriters but untold millions of moviegoers…more than you or I could possibly calculate. It’s not that Kurtzman and Orci are bad guys in and of themselves, but they serve soul-less corporate mainstream packagers who pander solely and entirely to Joe Popcorn and Joe Download, and are therefore incurring mountains of ill will and bad karma.
It was President Ronald Reagan‘s decision to begin deregulating everything in the early ’80s that started the U.S. on the path to higher and higher debt levels, gradually transforming it into a South American dictatorship of, by and for the rich. The transition came to full fruition during the Dubya years, and things have not changed much under President Obama. And all the rightwing fellators of corporate chieftains (including the rural morons who support conservative causes for cultural reasons) love this state of affairs. Hence this N.Y. Times report about how the American middle-class is significantly worse off today than it was when Reagan came in:
“In 1980, the American rich and middle class and most of the poor had higher incomes than their counterparts almost anywhere in the world. But incomes for the middle class and poor in the United States have since been growing more slowly than elsewhere.
“Why? Among the reasons [is that] this country has lost its once-wide lead in educational attainment. Other countries have increased their workers’ skill levels more quickly, helping create well-paying jobs. The United States also tolerates more inequality: The minimum wage is lower here. Executives make more money. The government redistributes less of it. By 2010, the poor in several other countries had pulled ahead. And Canada’s median income had reached a virtual tie with that of the United States. Since 2010, other data suggest Canada has moved ahead.”
The boomers did it. The boomers and Wall Street and the radical right and Fox News and their idiotic hinterland following.
I’ve watched about 30 minutes’ worth of Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut, a 108-minute re-cut by Mary Bernard (an apparent nom de plume of Steven Soderbergh) and I have to say it does feel more absorbing than Michael Cimino‘s original 219-minute cut. It really does. The hook goes in and it stays there. Soderbergh statement: “As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with Heaven’s Gate from the moment it was announced in early 1979, and unfortunately history has shown that on occasion a fan can become so obsessed they turn violent toward the object of their obsession, which is what happened to me during the holiday break of 2006.” Wait…Soderbergh has been sitting on this re-edited version of Gate for eight years?
Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher, a dark-toned melodrama about a real-life murder that happened in Pennsylvania in the mid ’90s, was booked for a big premiere screening at AFIFest 2013 last November 8th, which would have launched it into Oscar-season contention. But that went south in late September when Miller and the film’s distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, cancelled the AFI booking and bumped the film into 2014. Now it’s been announced that Foxcatcher, which will compete at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, will open on November 14th. And how about a booking as the opening-night kickoff attraction of AFIFest 2014?
With the Cannes showing approaching I think it’s time for a new trailer, no?
I’m presuming there were two reasons for the British distributor of William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer wanting to sell it as Wages of Fear, to wit: (a) Sorcerer was always a bad title…a suicide title, really, as it obviously implied something scary and supernatural, especially coming from the director of The Exorcist, and (b) Sorcerer tanked in the U.S. soon after opening in June 1977 so the British distributor undoubtedly said, “What the hell, let’s try to sell it with the original Henri-George Clouzot title…maybe it’ll make a bit more money that way.” Friedkin’s Wages opened in England in February 1978.
When they think at all of John Milius‘s The Wind and the Lion (’75), people think of it as Sean Connery‘s film. A dashing, colorful Connery playing a real-life Moroccan warrior and strong man in a turban — Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli. Connery is always delightful, of course, but in my mind Wind is dominated by Brian Keith‘s performance as President Theodore Roosevelt. And now Milius’s film (his best by virtue of being the most directly expressive of his personal philosophy) is about to pop on Bluray via Warner Archive.