I’m about to admit something that will make me sound clueless, but here goes. I’ve always liked the actor who played the big, bald, thorn-fingered genie in Michael Powell, Alexander Korda and William Cameron Menzies‘ The Thief of Bagdad (’40). And I’ve always liked the guy who played the dignified, well-mannered assistant to Ronald Colman‘s Michael Lightcap in George Stevens‘ The Talk of the Town (’42). But until this morning I never realized they were one and the same guy — Rex Ingram.
I posted this almost exactly a year ago: In no particular order, off the top of my head — the 28 Best Picture winners that have aged the best, still hold up, not necessarily the best of their respective years but entirely respectable: Spotlight (’15), Birdman (’14), 12 Years A Slave (’13), The Hurt Locker (’09), No Country For Old Men (’07), The Departed (’06), Schindler’s List (’93), The Silence of the Lambs (’91), Platoon (’86), Terms of Endearment (’83), Ordinary People (’80), Annie Hall (’77), The Godfather, Part II (’74), The Godfather (’72), The French Connection (’71), Patton (’70), Midnight Cowboy (’69), A Man For All Seasons (’66), Lawrence of Arabia (’62), The Apartment (’60), The Bridge on the River Kwai (’57), On The Waterfront (’54), From Here To Eternity (’53), All About Eve (’50), All The King’s Men (’49), The Best Years of Our Lives (’46), Casablanca (’43) and Moonlight (’16).
A little more than five years ago I wrote a piece called “Gazelles & Beefalos,” which was about odd couplings between beefy, wildebeest-sized guys and slender, attractive hotties. I happened to notice such a couple while eating at West Hollywood’s Astroburger, and I was going “what’s going on here?”
I’m mentioning this because there’s a line in Red Sparrow that applies to this dichotomy. Mary Louise Parker, playing an alcoholic with Washington connections who’s making a sale of secrets to the Russian baddies, says something to the effect of “Russian women are always so hot-looking but the Russian guys often look like toads,” or something close to that.
And the beefalos and gazelles observation is still valid. I saw another disparate couple like this (i.e., clearly together in a hetero sense) on the A train a couple of years ago in Brooklyn, and I just couldn’t believe it. She was almost Cindy Crawford and he was Meat Loaf.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s Red Sparrow review that there’s an awful lot of smoking going on, which is more than a little weird in this day and age. Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, an ex-Bolshoi ballerina, smokes in three or four scenes, and Jeremy Irons‘ Russian intelligence character is always puffing away, which is odd for a guy in his late ’60s. A couple of other characters (including the devious “uncle” played by Matthias Schoenaerts?) also smoke. The question is why when almost no one smokes these days except for contrarians, teenagers, party people and life’s chronic losers — riffraff, low-lifes, bums, scuzzballs. A half-century ago smoking was semi-cool but today it’s either a sign of weakness or malevolence. Which is why Paolo Sorrentino had Jude Law‘s pontiff smoke in The Young Pope.
“Women like romcoms precisely because men do change. I’m not saying men act the way they do primarily because of movies, but they have been getting this message for a long time, that this is what women want. And it is what women want. But only from the men they want it from! Problem is, we don’t know which one we are.
“Tom Cruise barges uninvited into the home of the woman he’s hired and had sex with and says, ‘I’m not letting you get rid of me…how about that?’ Adorable. But if it was Ted Cruz, not so much.
“Love Actually is somehow a lot of people’s favorite movie, but if it was made today, it would have to be called Inappropriate Actually. It’s nothing but men hitting on their underlings…”