From age 16 until Hollywood Elsewhere came along I’ve had over 20 jobs, and all but two I was let go from. Partly because I used to daydream a lot, and partly because I’m not that good at kissing ass, and partly because I can be willful and obstinate. I was fired from the Silvermine Tavern after one night as a bus boy. (“I’m sorry but it didn’t work out.”) I was cut loose from a truck-driving job with a Wilton lumber yard. I was canned from Boston Yellow Cab for driving a regular customer off the meter. I was cut loose from a chain link fence company after I eased a truck bed into the back of some guy’s car. I was fired as an airport shuttle driver. I lasted for a while with the Spring Street Bar & Grill but then something happened. I lost two or three more Manhattan waiter jobs (including one as a host at Lincoln Center’s Adagio Room). I didn’t get fired from my Film Journal managing editor job but I did lose my Hollywood Reporter gig a year or two later. I lasted for a while as a press-kit writer at the Samuel Goldwyn Co. I landed some publicity work with New Line Cinema over a two-year stretch. I didn’t get whacked from Cannon Films (I did pretty well as their in-house press-kit writer) but I was canned from a development gig at a company I won’t name in ’89, and then as an editor of Sound + Vision, a retail-funded promotional trade, a year and a half later. I was a regular freelancer with the L.A. Times Calendar section for a while. I did pretty well with Entertainment Weekly for four or five years and then my string ran out. A People desk job lasted for 20 months or so. My L.A. Times Syndicate column lasted for five years (’94 to ’99) — a long time for me. And then I became a salaried online columnist from ’98 through ’04 and then, finally, Hollywood Elsewhere. Something close to job security for the last 11 years(!), and probably for another 15 or 20 or whenever I drop dead. (Preferably in Paris.) Long is the road and hard that out of darkness leads up to light.
Luca Guadagnino‘s A Bigger Splash debuted at the Venice Film festival and will also screen at the BFI London Film Festival on 10.9. For some reason a trailer has surfaced despite the commercial British opening happening in mid February and the U.S. release delayed until 5.13.16.
Posted on 9.1.15: As I suspected/projected earlier this month, Fox Searchlight has given Luca Guadignino‘s A Bigger Splash a spring ’16 release date — May 13th, to be precise, or right in the middle of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival (5.11 to 5.22). And yet this relationship melodrama costarring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts, a remake of Jacques Deray‘s La Piscine (’69) and set on a Mediterranean island, will debut in a few days at the Venice Film Festival, and then will open theatrically in England in February.
Posted during Cannes Film Festival on 5.17.15: “Gabriel Clarke & John McKenna‘s Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (FilmRise, 11.13) is a fascinating time trip but mostly a sad, bittersweet mood piece about failure and a movie star swallowing his own tail. Clarke and McKenna have certainly made something that’s heads and shoulders above what you usually get from this kind of inside-Hollywood documentary. Heretofore unshared insight, a lamenting tone, an emotional arc. Plus loads of never-seen-before footage (behind-the-camera stuff, unused outtakes) plus first-hand recollections and audio recordings. A trove.
“Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans may seem at first glance like a standard nostalgia piece about the making of McQueen’s 1971 race-car pic, which flopped critically and commercially. (I own the Bluray but I’ve barely watched it — the racing footage is authentic but the movie underwhelms.) Yes, in some ways the doc feels like one of those DVD/Bluray ‘making of’ supplements, but it soon becomes evident that Clarke and McKenna are up to something more ambitious.
Ten days ago an HE headline asked if James Vanderbilt‘s Truth (Sony Pictures Classics, 10.16) was being “Zero Dark Thirty‘d” — i.e., relentlessly fired upon and controversial-ized for not presenting facts in a way that certain critics prefer, and thereby tarnished as a hot-potato movie that Academy voters may come to regard askance. The answer is yup, uh-huh, you betcha — the film is being ZD30‘d and torpedoed and what-have-you. Scott Feinberg‘s 9.17 Hollywood Reporter hit piece started things off, and yesterday a N.Y. Post slapdown article by Kyle Smith threw another log on the fire.
The attacks will continue and this somewhat melancholy, well-crafted and extraordinarily complex film will almost certainly be discredited by industry milquetoasts as a Best Picture contender for a very simple reason, and the kneejerk simplicity of this reason is why I just used the phrase “will almost certainly be discredited.”
The reason, I suspect, is that most critics and journalists will decide they can’t afford to support Truth because to do so would be seen as an endorsement of the incomplete vetting of the infamous Killian documents that were used in a 9.8.04 60 Minutes episode that explored whether George W. Bush received preferential treatment during his National Guard service in the early ’70s. So just as CBS felt it had no choice but to bow to the Republican attack machine by throwing producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and Dan Rather (Robert Redford) under the bus, journalists and critics will dismiss Truth because to give it a thumbs-up would allow any critic or enemy who pops up down the road to call their journalistic standards into question.
The fact that Mapes’ Bush story was essentially true is of little concern now or then; the fact that the documents may (emphasis on that word) have been forged or copied is everything. That is how the game of journalism works.
So unless a vigorous defense is immediately mounted by Sony Pictures Classics and Vanderbilt and their allies, the “word” will continue to spread and Truth will be dismissed, save for the praise coming from this corner and from Sasha Stone and a few other fans. Truth won’t open for another couple of weeks and the game is all but over, trust me, unless SPC and Vanderbilt come out guns blazing like the Wild Bunch, and unless they keep firing for the next three or four weeks at least. You can’t just put out a press release and let it go at that.
James Dean bought it 60 years and one day ago at the intersection of 46 (then called 466) and 41, near Cholame. If you live in the Los Angeles area, I don’t see how you can call yourself a serious devotee of Hollywood lore and not visit this historic site. (Then again I’ve never been to the North by Northwest cropduster site near Bakersfield so who am I to talk?) A friend and I stopped by on a road trip in the spring of ’98. I took the usual pictures, hung around, pondered death, etc. The “James Dean memorial junction” sign wasn’t there at the time, but there’s a roadside eatery up the road with a chrome memorial plaque of some kind wrapped around a tree. Remember the recreation sequence in David Cronenberg‘s Crash with Elia Koteas driving the Dean car? Weird.
Sometime in the early ’90s I tried to reach Donald Turnupseed, the Ford-driving guy whose abrupt left turn from 466 onto 41 more or less caused the collision, but he never spoke to anyone about the accident. Turnupseed died of lung cancer in ’95.