Evening dispatch from HE’s “Actionman”: “Just got back from seeing The Elephant Man at the Booth Theater with Bradley Cooper as John Merrick. AMAZING. I have a newfound respect for the guy. NO MAKE-UP OR PROSTHETICS. He makes you believe he’s disfigured just by the way he bends and contorts his body. His voice is a dead ringer for John Hurt‘s. If you’re in NYC between now and February 15th, I highly recommend it. It’s obviously a bit of a downer and it’s very spare but all of the performances are excellent, and Cooper is just fucking sensational.” Last night (11.7) was the first preview performance apparently. The show will formally “open” on Sunday, 12.7 and run through 2.15.15. What does this mean Oscar-race-wise? I’ll tell you what it means Oscar-race-wise. It means that if Cooper is really good in Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper, that plus Merrick means he’s all but a shoo-in for that fifth Best Actor slot.
A scrappy, seriously liberal Democrat has to run against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries and put her feet to the fire. She can’t be allowed to just coast her way to the nomination by saying (a) “it’s time for a woman in the Oval office,” (b) “I’ve waited for years and now’s the time” and (c) “I’m a tougher, more McCain-like right-center Democrat than President Obama.” If Elizabeth Warren (my personal preference) won’t run against Hillary and if the electorate feels that Bernie Sanders is just a bit too old (if he was 20 years younger it would be a different story), Minnesota’s just re-elected Senator Al Franken would fill the bill and then some. He’s whip-smart, funny, ballsy (i.e., offers no equivocations at all about despising right-wing loons) and walks the walk. Yesterday’s Esquire‘s Charles Pierce put it thusly: “Given the choice between the coronation of Hillary Clinton and the suddenly desiccated range of options, it’s hard not to see a space for Franken to run. The fact that this would cause Bill O’Reilly‘s head to detonate in a gorgeous orange fireball is merely a bonus.”
The HE-favored Leviathan and Ida have tallied four and five European Film Award nominations, respectively. Over the past two years the EFA Best Picture winner (Amour, The Great Beauty) has gone on to win the Best Foreign-Language Feature Oscar so there you go. Leviathan was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Andrey Zvyagintsev), Best Actor (Alexey Serebryakov) and Best Screenplay (Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin). Ida‘s five noms include Best Picture, Best Director (Pawel Pawlikowski), Best Actress (both Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska) and Best Screenplay (Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz). Other significant EFA nommies include Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Winter Sleep, Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac, Parts 1 & 2, Ruben Ostlund‘s Force Majeure and Steven Knight‘s Locke. The slow-on-the-pickup, not-that-hip members of the AMPAS foreign language committee are now boxed in. They pretty much have to nominate Ida and Leviathan for the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar. Well, they can be their occasionally obstinate selves and blow them off, I suppose, but they’ll look like fools.
“Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow — BOOM! — and spill all over the table.” — Sophia Loren speaking to Entertainment Weekly‘s Joe McGovern in an 11.3 piece that I ignored until Vanity Fair‘s Joanna Robinson posted a link piece two days ago, and even then I dilly-dallied.
Batman can huff and puff and roar around in his Bat-cycle and in his fucking Batmobile and jump off skyscrapers and yaddah-yaddah but he can’t kick Superman’s ass because he’s mortal and quite vulnerable while Superman is — hello? — a super-stud extra-terrestrial who’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, can hurl an about-to-detonate atomic device into space and reverse the earth’s rotation if it comes to that. Superman can kick Batman’s ass while taking a nap or a bath or having a manicure so just shut up. The idea is fundamentally stupid.
Today is the 100th birthday of the great actor-producer Norman Lloyd, whom I had the honor of interviewing at his home a little more than nine years ago. At the time I was hopping up and down over Lloyd’s smallish but eloquent and quite stirring performance in Curtis Hanson‘s In Her Shoes. Two or three years ago I ran into Lloyd again when he was being honored in Cannes. Here’s a Todd McCarthy tribute that appeared in The Hollywood Reporter a week or so ago, and here’s a piece from Variety‘s Scott Foundas that posted yesterday. Scott Feinberg‘s two-part, two-year-old video interview with Lloyd is after the jump, ditto my ’05 interview. If there’s any kind of gathering for Lloyd today or tomorrow I’d sure like to drop by and pay my respects. Wells to Kenny: Norman Lloyd is another guy you wouldn’t want to describe as “really nice.” He is that, of course — one of the most kindly and gracious men I’ve ever spoken with — but there’s so much more to him that calling him “really nice” would almost sound like a kind of banal dismissal.
I posted this two and a half years ago, and am re-posting today in honor of the 100th birthday of the legendary Norman Lloyd: “If right now wasn’t the best time of my life — financially, spiritually, emotionally, health-wise — I probably couldn’t write this, but there are four acts or phases in the life of a gifted or at least driven samurai-poet-artist, and two of them are hell. Well, one and a half.
The first is called “my life hasn’t quite kicked into gear yet but it hopefully will, and if it doesn’t I’ll be flirting with varying degrees of misery for the rest of my life.” (A LexG subcurrent reads the same but has this addendum: “And I so can’t stand not being there that I’m going to drink/compulsively chase girls/smoke pot/gamble/shoot heroin to narcotize the pain.”) I was in this phase until I was 25 or 26, and even after I started to climb out of it things weren’t so great. It didn’t really get good until the late ’80s (when I got married and had kids) and early ’90s.
The second is called “it’s happening and it’s great, but I know it could all slip away if I don’t stay on the stick and work hard and eat right and stay away from the bad habits…I know things’ll be hard anyway from time to time, but I can roll with a downturn or two.”
The third phase is called “yep, this is really working out pretty well…steady as she goes, good writing happening, business is somewhere between plugging-along and thriving, sons are doing great, nice comfy abode, travel year round, cats are healthy, terrific motorcycle-sized scooter to buzz around on, booze is history, good eating habits, enjoying great-by-U.S.-standards wifi (which is substandard by South Korean or Japanese standards), anger issues at their lowest levels ever, great-quality streaming on 60″ Samsung, relatively lean, no pot belly and most of my hair hasn’t fallen out,” etc.
How does J.C. Chandor‘s A Most Violent Year play for the second time, having initially seen it only 24 hours earlier? No diminishment. Enhanced even on a couple of levels. The surprise-and-discovery thing can’t be repeated, of course, but it felt just as strong and clean and well-ordered and so well acted. I was re-absorbing the discipline and clarity and the general downmarket, snow-blanketed New York-iness of the early ’80s, which Chandor and his team have recreated to a T. Save me, bathe me, take me away, send me over the falls, etc. Nice hangin’ after the screening with director-writer Chandor, Oscar Isaac (now portraying Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko in David Simon and Paul Haggis’s Show Me A Hero, an HBO miniseries) and producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb. Here’s to my third and fourth viewings.
Following last night’s WME screening of A Most Violent Year (l. to r.) producer Neal Dodson, director-writer J.C. Chandor, star Oscar Isaac, producer Anna Gerb.
Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain during Thursday night’s AFI Fest after-party at Hollywood Roosevelt.
Most Violent Year costars Ben Rosenfield (Boardwalk Empire, Affluenza), David Oyelowo (MLK in Selma) during Hollywood Roosevelt gathering.