When I got back to town this afternoon I went down to the local Time Warner office, exchanged the old modem (Motorola SBG6580) for the new one with the faster capability (Arris T61672G), and hooked up the newbie. I needed a Time Warner techie to help me get it right, but it’s now showing speeds between 117 mbps and 122 mbps. The techie told me the speeds will gradually increase over the next few hours or days. Excellent. Except the new network is identified as “[user name] 5G” with the same password. Which means, of course, that the Oppo player, the Roku player and the Apple TV have no connectivity because they’re coded to communicate with the previous network. (I’ll figure it out tomorrow.) I’m dumped my cable entirely and am relying entirely on wifi and apps — better late than never.
As I was taking pictures of the atmospheric remnants of the North by Northwest cropduster location, the Directors Guild of America was announcing its feature directing nominees. As I read their names under the warm Bakersfield sun I said to myself, “Thank God…now we finally know what the industry thinks…before we were lost in the woods, searching around in the dark, clueless. But now, finally, we know the score.”
The Revenant‘s Alejandro G. Inarritu, Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy, The Big Short‘s Adam McKay, Mad Max: Fury Road‘s George Miller and The Martian‘s Ridley Scott…salud! Did anyone out there have any hint at all that these five would be nominated? I sure didn’t. I had no idea whatsoever.
Yes, I’m kidding. Yes, the DGA noms are a snooze. Yes, it was fairly clear who the five would be….well, a week or two ago. The most recent hottie is The Big Short‘s Adam McKay, but his inclusion fits in, of course, with everyone chattering about The Big Short climbing and/or gaining.
To what extent will the Academy go along with the DGA? Will they also reject Carol‘s Todd Haynes and Steve Jobs‘ Danny Boyle? Almost certainly.
Daryl H. Thornhill, grandson of Roger Thornhill, has paid a visit to a hallowed place — a place where his ancestor was nearly murdered by machine-gun fire from a cropdusting biplane. Daryl is standing at “Prairie Stop, Highway 41” — actually an area near the intersection of Garces Highway and Corcoran Road near Wasco, a suburb of Bakersfield. Daryl is standing by the side of the road, taking shots with his iPhone 6 Plus. A SUV appears from nowhere, stops and a rural-type fellow in a brown suit gets out. Thornhill and Brownsuit regard each other from a distance of 60 feet or so. Thornhill decides to walk over and break the ice.
The only area that even remotely resembles the North by Northwest location, and it’s located about a mile south of the alleged shooting spot.
Thornhill: Hi. (pause) Hot day.
Brownsuit: Seen worse.
Thornhill: (Beat) Have you ever seen a film called North by Northwest?
Brownsuit: Can’t say I have ’cause I haven’t.
Thornhill: Well, a couple of websites say they shot a famous scene from that film right here, right on this spot. 12168 Corcoran Road.
Brownsuit: Can’t trust what you read on the web.
Thornhill: My thought exactly. It’s flat out here, but otherwise the area bears almost no resemblance to the area in the film. No corn crops, no tilled soil, no telephone poles. The area in the film looked like rural Illinois or Indiana. This looks like….well, not classic farmland at all. Desert scrub, fruit trees. It looks more like the area outside Ravenna in Antonioni’s Red Desert.
Brownsuit: Red Desert?
Thornhill: Another movie.
Although I’m personally appalled by obese, junk-food-inhaling middle-class Americans, I believe that Bernie Sanders‘ proposals to cut them a financial break through social services is the right thing to do. I also believe that his scrappy, contentious attitudes about toxic billionaires are more genuine than Hillary Clinton‘s somewhat similar positions. And yet I’ve recently been easing out of my Bernie thing and warming to Hillary because, I’ve told myself, it’s better in the long run to support a Democrat who can definitely beat Donald Trump. And yet Bernie has been polling much better against Trump than Hillary, and now he’s got a five-point lead over Clinton in a new Quinnipiac University Iowa poll — 49 to 44 percent. That’s a 9-point increase for Sanders and a 7-point loss for Clinton since the last Quinnipiac poll in December. On top of which Sanders is leading by double digits in New Hampshire. Sanders has said all along that he’s the more electable candidate. Outside of Iowa and New Hampshire? I don’t know what to think or do or believe.
I’ve been telling myself since moving to Los Angeles in ’83 that some day I’ll visit the site of the cropduster scene in North by Northwest. But I didn’t for the usual reasons (laziness, lack of discipline, pressed for time by work). Well, I’m doing it this morning, dammit. I drove out to Bakersfield last night, and my date with destiny happens in two or three hours after breakfast and whatnot. 12167 Corcoran Road near Wasco, about 50 minutes northwest of Bakersfield, 10 miles north of Highway 46. Major witnessings never happen unless you man up, fill the tank and drive there.
Robert Egger‘s The Witch (A24, 2.19) debuted almost a full year ago at Sundance 2015. It re-appeared last September at Toronto Film Festival. Did I catch either showing? Of course not. Renowned for being uncannily frightening, I’ll finally attend a Los Angeles screening on Monday, 1.18. It opens a month later.
“This movie [is] so scary it not only freaks you out, it makes the world around you freak you out. You don’t sleep well the night after you watch it. You definitely try to do whatever you can to avoid any long walks in the woods or chores involving farm animals. It’s a stunningly impressive debut film from Robert Eggers, who did extensive research into New England folklore, combining various accounts and stories into this movie, which plays like the ultimate 17th century witch nightmare.” — posted today by Screencrush’s Matt Singer.
In the wee hours of 3.22.76, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and two other guys were arrested at the Americana Rochester hotel for possessing “about half a pound” of weed. Bowie paid the bonds and then left for gigs in Springfield, Mass., and New Haven, Conn. He returned a few days later to plead innocent in Rochester City Court. “A crowd of about 200 police, fans and reporters looked on” as Bowie and his entourage were guided into the Public Safety Building, according to original reports in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Bowie’s “biggest greeting was the screams of about a half-dozen suspected prostitutes awaiting arraignment in the rear of the corridor outside the courtroom.”