A couple of days ago Jennifer Lawrence told EW‘s Sara Vilkomerson that she plans to start directing before long, and that the first project will be “about mental warfare in the ’60s, like an acid experiment gone terribly wrong.” The pic will be based on a 2012 New Yorker article by Raffi Khatchadourian called “Project Delirium.” Lawrence adds that she’d “also like to direct a comedy.” Wells to Lawrence: Do the comedy and shelve the Delirium. Nobody wants to see another government-funded-behavioral-experiment-gone-wrong movie in the wake of Kyle Patrick Alvarez‘s The Stanford Prison Experiment and Michael Almereyda‘s Experimenter. The string is played out.
Last night I came upon a link for an L.A. Times Calendar piece that I wrote 22 years ago about Dan Richter, the ’60-era mime who played the bone-tossing Moonwatcher in Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The last time I linked to this piece was in July ’08. Here are three scans of the original article — #1, #2 and #3.
My father met Dan at a Connecticut AA meeting in ’92 or thereabouts, and at my dad’s suggestion I called a while later and visited Dan at this home in Sierra Madre for an interview. I remember he was dealing with chemotherapy at the time and not walking all that well, but he’s still here and doing okay as far as I know. I didn’t know until this morning that Richter published a 2012 memoir — “The Dream Is Over” — that’s mainly about a four-year period that he spent with John Lennon and Yoko One (’69 to ’73).
The best thing about this photo, which was shot somewhere on the Lower West Side during the spring of ’77, are the folds in the woman’s stockings. That and the eye contact between us and my no-worries expression. And the cigarette. I wasn’t a constant smoker (I would guiltily indulge from time to time and then quit again) but I was definitely stinking of tobacco and nicotine when this shot was taken, and it didn’t seem like a problem. I was half-miserable at the time, but I was approaching an even more miserable chapter, which was my first three years in NYC (’78, ’79 and ’80) — restaurant jobs, freelance assignments for next to no money, a cockroach-infested apartment on Sullivan Street and then a one-room misery studio on West 4th Street near Jane, bad food (next to no vegetables, tons of sugar), getting half-bombed every other night, typewriter ribbons and white-out, a ghetto blaster and a couple of dozen cassettes for music. And yet for all the fretting and struggling and my particular form of weltschmerz, I was batting somewhere between .333 and .400 with the ladies.
The time for David O. Russell‘s Joy (20th Century Fox, 12.25) draws nigh. A flurry of press screenings will begin next Wednesday, and there are two showings for the Academy/guild crowd this weekend. It’s obviously presumptuous to talk Best Picture odds, but right now it’s still Spotlight on top with The Revenant having dropped a notch or two, basically because it’s the new 12 Years A Slave. (David Poland: “My personal take is that The Revenant will not resonate much with Academy voters…others disagree.”) If Joy turns out to be a heavy hitter it’ll be a Spotlight-vs.-Joy thing all through December, January and February. I’m persuaded that The Hateful Eight won’t seriously compete, and that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be a huge financial hit. If there’s a Best Picture sleeper out there it’s Creed, but there’s another formulaic entertainment (i.e., The Martian) in Best Picture contention already — the only Creed contenders that seriously pop are Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor and composer Ludwig Goransson.
Repeat/collage/refining of previous turkey-day sentiments: “I don’t feel an obligation to state what I’m thankful for because the calendar says this is the day to put your feelings on the table. I feel thankful 24/7/365. Mainly for my life and career having turned out fairly well. The success of Hollywood Elsewhere has been earned brick by brick, phrase by phrase, sweat droplet by sweat droplet. The talent and discipline that made this happen weren’t granted except by way of genetic inheritance, but I’m enough of a meditative mystic to understand that luck is a big part of things, and so I’m grateful, very grateful, for the luck that has come my way. And for my two sons and my friends and occasional romantic flames and my two cats, and the feeling of being loved or liked or aligning with others in whatever way. I’m hugely grateful that I wasn’t born to a middle-class, downmarket family in Nebraska or Montana or to some resigned, lethargic, drinking-class environment. I’m thankful that sobriety is now the basis of my life, and that I don’t eat turkey or mashed potatoes or yams or sweet potatoes or any orange-colored vegetable. I love Thanksgiving downshifting because it means a major Bluray and high-def submission for a day. Except I haven’t gotten around to that.”
Will Smith to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg: “As I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me. They might need me out there. This is the first year that I’ve been incensed to a level that I can’t sleep, you know? So I’m feeling that at some point, in the near future, I will have to lend my voice to the conversation in a somewhat different way.” Of course, Smith doesn’t expend so much as a single breath explaining what precisely has “incensed” him so much. Donald Trump? Police shootings of black detainees? He’d rather not say, but he’d like go into politics and may run for something because “they might need me”? Smith has never been a wonky, details-driven guy — he’s always relied on charm. But if he decided to get wonky and serious….naahh, a leopard can’t change spots.
“When Donald Trump said he would bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic against terrorism suspects, and added, ‘If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway,’ an older couple behind the group of teenagers threw back their heads in utter delight. ‘Amen,’ the woman said. ‘Oh, my God,’ one of the high school girls said. Another covered her mouth in shock.
“Then, when Mr. Trump began talking about surveillance of refugees, the college-age couple standing in front of the students began chanting, ‘Hating Muslims helps ISIS!’ The students were caught off guard, but after a moment of uncertainty, some of them joined in.
“Steven Hopkins [of Waverly, Ohio] leaned over and screamed, ‘Shut up!’
“Mr. Trump stopped his remarks and looked toward the commotion with disgust. ‘Two people, two people,’ he said dismissively of the couple, as the crowd started booing and the people around them began shouting. ‘So sad,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘Yeah, you can get ’em the hell out.’
Hollywood Elsewhere has wangled an invitation to the big fat Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Monday, 12.14 — four days before the 12.18 opening but three days, I’m presuming, before the first commercial screenings on Thursday night. Disney doesn’t need to screen it for anyone in advance, least of all critics. (Variety is projecting a first-weekend take of $170 million but it might go higher than that.) The invitation doesn’t say where but I’m guessing the Chinese. It reads in part: “Please include the name of your guest and the mode of transportation you plan on using to and from the event: personal car, car service (of any kind), limousine service, TaunTaun, Star Speeder.”
“[All my life] I’ve really only created entertainment that my grandmother would be proud of…for my entire career I’ve yearned for that look of approval…[doing entertainment that reflects] values that she raised me with.” — Will Smith speaking to THR’s Scott Feinberg in an 11.25 post. Here’s my reaction to Concussion, Smith’s award-conversation film that was screened on 11.10 at AFI Fest.
I’ve noted a few times that I prefer the kind of film score that seems to be watching the movie with you and expressing what you’re feeling as the story progresses. (Examples: Spotlight, Moneyball.) The other kind announces the emotional intention or goal on a scene-by-scene basis and more or less instructs you how to feel. Ludwig Goransson‘s Creed score is one of the latter, but it’s an arresting and often rousing example of this approach. Goransson, 31, is so with the film and feeling the current so strongly that he reminds you of old-school composers like Max Steiner or Franz Waxman. His music isn’t dancing in step with or augmenting the movie as much as a character unto itself — a kind of cheerleader that’s saying to the crowd, “Pay attention, this matters, ya gotta feel the feeling!” For what it’s worth, it’s a very stirring score of this type.
Ryan Coogler‘s Creed, which I paid to see last night at the AMC Century 15, is the second high-quality, popular-with-the-proletariat formula flick to have elbowed its way into the award-season conversation this year (following Ridley Scott‘s The Martian). We’re definitely talking Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor…but will he campaign? (He’s delivered three commendable performances now — young Rocky Balboa in Rocky, 60ish Rocky in Creed and John Rambo in Ted Kotcheff‘s First Blood.) Creed is not so much a Best Picture or Best Director contender because it mainly follows the expected ambitious-young-boxer saga while tributing the first Rocky film. It’s not breaking any new ground, but it’s the first really good Rocky film in 39 years.
But it’s very well done within genre perimeters, and well written as far as it goes, definitely well acted and even excitingly directed at times. Coogler has made his sophomore bones with this film, and is basically set for life (if he wants to milk it) as the black Sydney Pollack. And Creed has a spiritual sports current you can really dig into and ride upon — a serious feeling of esprit de corps among sports-loving Philadelphians and particularly the scooter and moped-riding locals who live in the nabe where Michael B. Jordan‘s Adonis Creed lives and trains. This is the kind of solid, pulse-quickening sport-formula film that Joe Popcorn lives for. And it’s definitely a hit. People in the theatre applauded when Stallone came on screen, and they applauded when Ludwig Goransson‘s music cued up the traditional Rocky theme. They were into it and happy when it was over, and so was I as far as it went.
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