In a 12.25 post called “Take…No, Respect The Pain” I asked for reactions to Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, but more importantly I asked how “the room” felt. “How did it seem to play with Joe and Jane?,” I wrote. “Seriously…I’m asking. Maybe on some level it’s connecting. What do I know?” Well, Unbroken is connecting. $15,592,000 earned on Christmas Day, and close to $50 million expected by Sunday night.
Except half the critics said “nope” and the film itself isn’t, to be bend-over-backwards fair, traditionally comforting or nourishing. It’s a well-made, handsomely captured slog about a guy enduring all manner of pain, trial, deprivation and torture. So something is happening here, Mr. Jones, but what? I think it’s the fans of Laura Hillebrand’s 2010 book plus fans who are looking to kiss the proverbial Jolie glamour ring plus the same people who ten years ago wrapped themselves in the blessed spiritual agonies of The Passion of the Christ.
And yet when I asked if anyone felt tremors in the ground only two readers, “Sams” and “Actionman,” answered in the affirmative. Everyone else navel-gazed. The HE community failed. I’d like explanations, please.
I would honestly refuse to watch Jeremy Garelick‘s The Wedding Ringer (Screen Gems, 1.16.15) if someone offered to pay me $20 to do so. I’m not sure $50 would do it. I might fold if someone slipped me a Ben Franklin…maybe. My general rule is that I’ll never watch a Kevin Hart film, and I don’t see that ever changing. I appreciate that Josh Gad has dropped a few pounds in hopes of being occasionally cast as a boyfriend or fiance, but my mind, my life and the general rules of human behavior won’t allow the notion of a smart, alert, good-looking girl looking like Wedding Ringer costar Kaley Cuoco open to mingling with a porky, bespectacled, pasty-faced geek…no way in hell.
For years I’ve been visiting Coming Soon, mainly for easy access to movie release dates and links and generally the whole calendar year…it kept you to up to date on everything. CS also posted news stories and access to new trailers and yaddah yaddah. A few days ago all of that went away. Coming Soon has been transformed into a boring, nothing, bullshit site that I have no use for. It used to be geek-friendly, a kind of haven for guys like myself…no more. A shame. Where do I go now for an easy rundown of what’s coming out on a week-by-week, month-by-month basis…no muss or fuss?
In order to compose a thorough, no-holds-barred saga of his drug-addled past in “Night of the Gun,” a riveting 2009 memoir, N.Y. Times columnist David Carr relied on the accounts of first-hand witnesses, gathered by diligent shoe-leather reporting, rather than his own memory. I’m mentioning this because a friend reminded me last weekend of an eccentric episode that happened, he said, in my early 20s. When, he also reminded, I was living a colorful, dissolute life. The story made an impression because I didn’t remember all that much. But then certain details began to come back into focus. My friend’s account was probably exaggerated, but I realized that if I ever write a history of my own wild tales I’ll have to get out the pad like Carr.
Here, in any event, is my best recollection:
I was crashing with a married couple, Frank and Karen, in a smallish Boston apartment in the general vicinity of Symphony Hall and Hemenway Street. They had a linebacker-sized friend named Eddie who lived nearby and was also hanging out a lot. Mainly the four of us sat around in the evenings and got high. I distinctly remember not rolling joints as much as tapping the tobacco out of filtered cigarettes and then-filling the cigarette with what I recall was low-grade pot. Moderately potent, lots of stems and seeds.
One night around 10 pm or so we decided we needed a straw. That may have meant we were looking to snort something but I really don’t recall what. Maybe we were looking to suck in hash smoke. (A tiny chunk of hash placed on the burning embers of a cigarette, etc.) No, I don’t remember why we didn’t just use rolled-up dollar bills. Probably because it would’ve been unsanitary. I recall that it was fairly cold out and that we were probably broke or close to it, and so going to a market and buying a pack of straws was out. So I decided to start knocking on doors and asking Frank and Karen’s neighbors if they had a straw to spare. It wasn’t just the vaguely strange notion of a long-haired guy in jeans and boots with bloodshot eyes looking to bum a straw from strangers, but that it was too late to knock on doors and bum anything from anyone.
It’s a “gift” to tell people to watch a TV show? If you were producing Neil Patrick Harris‘s first Oscar promo spot, would you have gone with this? Seriously? Not amusing, not even faintly. Guys are getting paid serious coin to do this stuff. If this is even faintly indicative of the material on the actual show…
I have this thing for Halls mentholyptus lozenges. Mainly for the flavor. They’re cough suppressants but sometimes they make me cough when I suck in too much menthol. All to say that I made the mistake of popping a couple of lozenges during last Tuesday night’s performance of Constellations. Right away I felt a cough coming on but Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson were right in the middle of it. I had to stop it cold. I should have spit the lozenges into my hand but I didn’t want to offend the guy sitting next to me so I kept them in my mouth but outside my lower bridge. Another cough spasm welled up but I suppressed it. Well, mostly. I made a faint wheezing noise…”wheeem.” And then another. A woman in front of me and two seats to the right turned around and glared. I was terrified that I’d collapse in a loud wretched hack. Jake and Ruth continued with the scene. Did they hear me? Why did I pop the lozenges? Help me, God. They began to melt but I had to concentrate on sitting frozen. Another couple of minutes passed before I knew the danger was over. Never again during a play.
Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken (Universal, 12.25) opened today. Sold a decent amount of tickets but didn’t do so well with the critics — 59% on Metacritic, 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Who saw it and what did you think? And how did “the room” feel? How did it seem to play with Joe and Jane? Seriously…I’m asking. Maybe on some level it’s connecting. What do I know?
I saw Jolie’s film on 11.30. The next day I called it respectable, well-crafted Christian torture porn. I acknowledged that it “comes straight from Angie’s heart and innards so you can’t call it dispassionate or cynical…as problematic as some aspects of Unbroken are for me, I respect Angie for her devotion to a story she cares about and believes in on more than one level, and the film for its honesty and craft levels.”
I’ve been thinking for years about trying to slip into Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park so I could visit the grave of Montgomery Clift. I finally got there today and realized I’d have to be a Navy Seal to scale the chain-link fence, which is eight or nine feet high and serious as a heart attack with angled barbed wire on top. The Quakers who own the private cemetery don’t want people like me poking around. Serves me right for not doing the research beforehand. A 9.27.98 N.Y. Times piece titled “He’s Here For Eternity But Don’t Ask Where” says it all.