Let’s imagine that Disney and Working Title execs get together soon and decide they need to erase Jack Black‘s “Cosby sweater” line in High Fidelity as far as all future DVDs, Blurays and digital downloads are concerned. To remove the taint. Which means they’d have to hire Black to re-dub the line. But with what? How can Black describe the sweater humorously without alluding to the un-person? Strictly hypothetical. A stupid idea, of course, but you know how corporations get when icky stuff surfaces and “threatens the brand.”
Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher opened limited this weekend. Responses from HE readers are hereby sought. Here’s a re-post of my Foxcatcher review out of Cannes: “Speaking as a devoted admirer of Bennett Miller‘s Capote and Moneyball, it gives me no pleasure to admit that I feel less enthusiastic about Foxcatcher.
“There’s no doubt that Foxcatcher is strong and precise and clean, especially as crime dramas tend to go. And I respect the fact that it contains undercurrents that stay with you, and I certainly respect and admire what Miller has done in his usual deft and subtle way. But the obviously intelligent Foxcatcher is a relentlessly bleak trip that, accomplished as it is, isn’t especially likable or enjoyable. Okay, I ‘liked’ it or…you know, I didn’t ‘dislike’ it because it’s so well-made and refined, etc. But it’s basically a grim study of a dark tale about victims and affluent malevolence and corrupting wealth, and about fate surrounding the characters like tentacles and sucking them down the drain.
I’m sorry I missed Liv Ullmann‘s Miss Julie at the Toronto Film Festival, but I’m even more sorry that I can’t watch the trailers for this mixed-response film without wondering what’s up with poor Samantha Morton. She’s only 37, and over the last four or five years her head, neck and body have seriously ballooned. An unkind remark, you may say, but do you think Average Joe audiences are going to ignore this fact? Her appearance has significantly changed. Certainly since she was in Anton Corbijn‘s Control. Colin Farrell plays Jean, the fiance of Morton’s Christine, in this adaption of August Strindberg’s 1888 play. You look at Morton and then Jessica Chastain, and you can’t help but partially sympathize. Miss Julie may (I say “may”) open in the U.S. sometime in December.
Sexual assault accusations have been raining down on Bill Cosby over the last week or two, above and beyond a 2006 out-of-court payoff to alleged victim Andrea Constand. 13 women have reportedly accused the comedian of intimate transgressions of one kind or another. Last Thursday the Washington Post published a piece by alleged Cosby victim Barbara Bowman. In response to which Cosby cancelled an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman and refused to discuss the issue with NPR’s Scott Simon in an audio interview posted on 11.15.
I’m recapping the basics because an old friend, former actress, music industry publicist and journalist Joan Tarshis, has decided to share her own, heretofore private story about her unfortunate encounter with Cosby back in 1969. She had opportunities to spill to the tabloids a few years back but she didn’t want to go that route. The flood of recent Cosby coverage has changed her mind. She got in touch this morning and sent me the following:
“I was 19 years old in autumn of 1969. I had flown to Los Angeles from New York to work on a monologue with Godfrey Cambridge. Two women I was staying with were friends of Bill Cosby, and they took me to have lunch with him in his cottage at Universal Studios, where he was shooting The Bill Cosby Show. He was always generous with his food and drinks, though he never drank alcohol. But he always topped my Bloody Mary’s with beer, which he called a ‘redeye.’
Two days ago I riffed about the relative lack of calming shade and big towering trees in the Los Angeles area. Another thing we’re short of is rain, of course, and particularly torrential downpours, which I love standing in the middle of as long as I’m under an umbrella or shelter of some kind. I experienced an awesome cloudburst last year at this time (on 11.19.13) in Vietnam, in a forested area outside of Hue. The sound alone was fantastic. How many of these have I sampled since moving to Los Angeles in ’83? Damn few. I remember another really good one in Paris about 11 years ago. Rivers were raging in the gutters of narrow cobblestoned streets.
Last night I finally watched Marshall Curry‘s Point and Shoot, which won the Best Documentary prize at last April’s Tribeca Film Festival. It’s a handsomely captured, smoothly edited doc about the Middle-Eastern adventures of Matthew VanDyke, an enterprising, financially fortified, highly educated guy who went on a manly motorcycle journey of self-discovery throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East between 2007 and 2009. His most significant stopover during that trip was in Libya, where he made friends and discovered special feelings of kinship for that country’s culture. VanDyke went back to the States but returned to Libya in 2011 to join the fight against Muammar Gaddafi.
I’m a big fan of the word “finality,” which I never seem to hear in everyday conversation. I’m an even bigger fan of movies that use it. I’m thinking of exactly two that have. In Peter Ustinov‘s Billy Budd (’62), able seaman Melvyn Douglas is asked by a naval officer why he’s using the past tense in referring to Claggart (Robert Ryan), the ship’s master-at-arms, and the grim-faced Douglas says, “I look around and sense finality here.” In Don Siegel‘s Charley Varrick (’73), Joe Don Baker chuckles after Sheree North hands him Walter Matthau‘s business card. “Charley Varrick, Last of the Independents,” he reads. “I like that. Has a ring of finality.”
10 bonus points to anyone who can name another significant film that has used the word, 25 bonus points if they can post the exact quote, and 50 bonus points if they can honestly cop to having used the term in conversation.
Cruddy reviews (27% Rotten Tomatoes, 35% Metacritic) and infantile, submental, nose-picking humor (which of course is precisely the point) is no impediment to box-office success these days. The Farrelly Brothers’ Dumb and Dumber To, or the reuniting of Jim Carrey‘s Lloyd and Jeff Daniels‘ Harry, will end up with roughly $38 million for the weekend.
I was planning to attend the all-media but the AFI Fest interfered, so perhaps those who’ve seen it will answer a question. Did Carrey and Daniels being a bit older get in the way of the humor to any degree? In a 9.25.13 piece called “Long of Tooth,” I noted that “dumbasses in their 30s vs. dumbasses in their 50s are different equations…you can fall into dumb-shit situations when you’re youngish but guys with creases on their faces are supposed to be craftier and less susceptible.”