You don’t have to be a snooty type to be a connoisseur of gourmet dishes, but you need to be a person of at least some cultivation and taste. A person, let’s say, who might attend a revival screening of Going Places or Hiroshima, Mon Amour, or who might catch a Lower Manhattan showing of Abel Ferrara‘s Welcome to New York. What are the odds that fans of Furious 7 or Insurgent would appreciate this Netflix doc? I think we know the answer. I don’t need to belabor the point.
Three weeks hence Cinemacon, the annual four-day exhibitor convention held at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas, will kick off. Every year I ask myself, why am I spending $600 or $700 bucks minimum to drive (or fly) to Vegas and stay in a cheesy motel to watch product reels for three days? Answer: Because I’m afraid I might miss a hint of a spark of something special. All it takes is a special clip or two, the right joke, a special appearance by a big-name celebrity…anything that gets the blood rushing. I’m also going because it’ll give me stuff to write about. Not just the convention attractions but the corporate, soul-narcotizing experience of Vegas itself. Not to mention my down-at-the-heels accommodations.
Last year I stayed in a Motel 8 craphouse (I actually described it as a “spartan shitbag” motel) across the Strip from the Mandalay. This year I’ll be in the Howard Johnson Tropicana, which definitely represents a step up. Two nights for roughly $112 or something like that. And it’s only about an 18-block walk to Caesar’s.
Last night a fair-sized portion of the HE community saw Alex Gibney‘s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief on HBO, and now it’s commonly understood that this is a seriously brutal, all-but-impossible-to-refute takedown documentary, and that the image of Tom Cruise as a coddled loon and an enabler of a decidedly venal organization is not going to dissipate. How can his brand not be in serious jeopardy from this? How can a person who’s seen Going Clear pay to see Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and not think “the Scientology stigma is stronger than the illusion of cool, super-brave Ethan Hunt”? Last night I tweeted that Cruise “has no honor if he stays with these maniacs…he has to stand up, man up, clear his head.” Who’s seen the Gibney doc, what’s the verdict and what would you do if you were Cruise? Would you just pretend it hasn’t been seen and that nobody cares? If he could just find a backbone and leave the Church of Scientology, he’d the coolest guy in town. As Going Clear author Lawrence Wright said in an interview last year, Cruise is “the pivotal figure who bears the greatest moral burden” within the whole ghastly Scientology scenario.
This is a rough one. Maybe too rough to even get into here, but it’s real and happening and I don’t know what else. Devastating, certainly, but also a form of subtle spiritual torture. My mom has been coping with the ravages of old age, and there’s really no way to put it except to state the obvious, which is that things can’t improve. Assisted living facilities will naturally care for and maintain her to the last, but to go by her words (which have been relatively few) it’s all about ennui and despair these days. You can’t do anything except visit, hold her hand, gentle-vibe her and be absolutely powerless. Yesterday she mistook Jett for me and asked, “Are you here to save me?” Last weekend she fell, fractured her right hip. The doctors asked for permission to operate, I gave it and they fixed her up last Wednesday. When you’re 85-plus the ordeal of surgery (anesthesia, pain medication, the general trauma of it all) is tough to handle. She’s made of stern stuff (as I am) but she feels besieged and just wants to rest. Norman Lloyd, bless him, still plays tennis but my mom refuses to walk. A brutal final chapter. In Alan Watts‘ “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,” Ananda Coomaraswany is quoted as follows: “I would rather die ten years too early than ten minutes too late.” Dylan actually mentioned this quote as he, Jett and my ex-wife were leaving Danbury Hospital yesterday.
I am theoretically down with whatever Nicolas Winding Refn‘s The Neon Demon might be as long as nobody gets stabbed in the windpipe or in the temple or gets disembowled with any kind of blade. After Drive and Only God Forgives, Refn has to permanently resign from the sword-and-knife club. The generic description — the youth and vitality of an aspiring model are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women — obviously indicates something predatory. Refn: “I very much look forward to the odyssey I’ll be taking with all these wonderful actresses (and a few guys) to travel beyond The Neon Demon where all I see is the wicked dying young.” Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves. Principal photography begins today.