I may as well admit that I played a very small role in the publicity effort behind Rambo: First Blood, Part II (’85). No, I didn’t work for TriStar or Carolco but for temporarily partnered publicists Dick Delson and Bobby Zarem, who were working for Sylvester Stallone himself. I spent some time around Sly, of course. He wasn’t unfriendly but I wouldn’t call him gregarious. A bit sullen, a man of fewer words. We were visiting our client at his Pacific Palisades home one night, and as we were leaving I noticed an original Francis Bacon painting in the foyer. “Wow, Francis Bacon!,” I exclaimed. “You got it,” Stallone replied.
It feels like Anton Corbijn‘s A Most Wanted Man (Lionsgate/Roadside, 7.25) has been around forever. Lionsgate acquired the rights a year ago. It played Sundance last January but I couldn’t get to it. Now it’s opening limited in three weeks or so. Not the last big-screen performance from the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman but the last one that anyone with taste will want to see. The trailer tells you Philly’s German accent owns this thing, at least as much as his screen time allows. Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Homayoun Ershadi, Martin Wuttke, etc.
Theodore Melfi‘s St. Vincent de Van Nuys (Weinstein Co., 10.24), which shot last summer in various New York-area locations, is about a rootless young guy with just-divorced parents befriending a “misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran” played by Bill Murray. Costars include Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts. This looks like the same trailer they showed at Harvey’s annual preview event in Cannes in mid-May.
Jeffrey Ressner, a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist pal whom I first met when we worked together at the Hollywood Reporter back in ’83 and ’84 and whom I considered an actual, real-deal friend, has died of a heart attack. He was only 56, for God’s sake. I’m sure his friends would like to gather and share stories and raise a glass. Update: A memorial service for Ressner will be held on Tuesday, 7.8 at 11 am at the Burbank branch of Forest Lawn Mortuary.
The late Jeffrey Ressner, probably sometime in the late ’80s.
Jeff would call every so often or I would invite him to a screening or we’d do an occasional lunch. He was cautious, a stay-at-homer. He never wanted to drive east of the 405 and I started to give up inviting him to screenings because of this. But he read the column all the time, and we would talk about women a lot. The last time we met he slipped me some prescription pain pills. Jeff travelled to Asia quite a lot. After my initial trip to Vietnam in 2012 we compared extensive notes on the region. The last time I went to Vietnam (i.e., eight months ago) he asked me to buy him some coffee and cigars and bring them back. I told him to flat-out forget it — I wasn’t going to lug boxes of coffee and cigars through customs for him.
The great Paul Mazursky has died at the age of 84. For eight or nine years Mazursky’s films seemed to understand the half-comedic, half-bittersweet backwash of the ’60s and ’70s better than any other filmmaker except perhaps Robert Altman. Mazurksy was the reigning Woody Allen figure — the guy whose films were connected with the moods and meanderings and what modern hipster relationships were really about back then — before Allen found his voice and took the crown away from Mazursky with Annie Hall in ’78. Mazursky’s New York roots went into Next Stop, Greenwich Village (’76), An Unmarried Woman (’78) and Moscow on the Hudson (’84) but there was always something more knowing and intimate about his Los Angeles-based films. From ’69 to ’78 Mazursky held mountains in the palm of his hands, or something close to that.
Uh-oh…another Melissa McCarthy movie! I’d better say the right things or, more to the point, not say any bad things or Judd Apatow and the armed Sunni p.c. police squad will kick the shit out of me, especially on Twitter. I need to get my attitude adjusted and crank up the denial or I’ll be in big trouble. Okay…go! McCarthy’s schtick of playing a coarse, angry, under-educated, junk-food-inhaling, lower-middle-class instinct animal is…hilarious! And it’s totally common when thin, nice-looking guys (in this instance an ex-hubby and a possible new boyfriend) are depicted as being (or having been) sexually interested in her. One reason for this curious state of affairs is an understanding that morbid obesity isn’t a life-shortening affliction but…kinda cute! And a drop-dead hilarious comic device. When McCarthy tries to leap over a fast-food counter during a robbery but can’t manage it…gasping for breath! Did I mention that morbid obesity has become a kind of metaphor for serenity and self-acceptance?
Wait…should I run this by Apatow first before publishing? Maybe I haven’t expressed my views in the right way? Aaahh, too late now.
Tammy (Warner Bros., 7.2) is a husband-and-wife enterprise — directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, and co-written by Falcone and McCarthy. Creative collaborations between married or otherwise intimately entwined couples often don’t work because they’re not blunt with each other. If an idea is shit or not quite good enough, you have to be able to effing say that instead of “yeah, honey, that’s a really good bit except…well, it’s not that I don’t respect your idea or you for that matter but I just think if we massaged it a little bit more and doubled down on the love we might have something a little bit better.” Do you think Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond talked that way to each other?