“Bridge Burner,” posted on 4.22.18: This morning I happened to read a great making-of-a-disaster article called “My Battles With Jon and Barbra,” a blow-by-blow account of the making of the 1976 version of A Star Is Born.
It was apparently written in a state of seething frustration by director and screenplay co-author Frank Pierson. Pierson, who passed in 2012, was arguably a better screenwriter (Cool Hand Luke, Dog Day Afternoon, Haywire, Presumed Innocent, Mad Men) than a director, but he certainly knew the realm.
Howe’s intro: “This is the infamous article, written by the director of A Star is Born and published shortly before the film had its premiere. Streisand and Jon Peters begged Pierson not to hurt their film by publishing it. The article was a betrayal to Streisand — a public airing of behind-the-scenes battles that, traditionally, were always kept private between director and star. It is included here so readers can understand why Streisand is so private and wary of the press.
“A different edit of the piece also ran in the November 15, 1976 issue of New York magazine. I’ve incorporated several of the excised sentences here, as well as scans of some of the photos that appeared in that magazine.
“In 1983, Barbra told journalist Geraldo Rivera: “Pierson’s article was so immoral, so unethical, so unprofessional, so undignified, with no integrity, totally dishonest, injurious. If anyone believes it, without examining who that person is, to try to put a black cloud over a piece of work before it’s even released: that’s the most important indication of who that person was.”
Again, the article itself.
The governing principle behind the shooting and cutting of all Park Chan-wook films is “look at me, look at me…look at what a brilliant director I am.” He’s admired or at least respected, of course, by nearly everyone. I for one haven’t been won over. Too show-offy, gets in the way. Yes, I agree –the 1984 George Roy Hill-Diane Keaton version didn’t work, and yet Sami Frey was quite good as Kahlil, the Palestinian terrorist.
Arnold Kopelson, a smart, scrappy film producer who knew the ropes and worked them hard, has passed at age 83. Condolences to all concerned but especially Arnold’s family (particularly Anne, his wife and producing partner) and friends.
The Brooklyn-born Kopelson produced 29 movies, and hit the jackpot three times within a nine-year period (’86 to ’95). His first grand slam was Platoon, directed and written by Oliver Stone and winner of the 1987 Best Picture Oscar. Six and a half years later came The Fugitive (’93) with Harrison Ford — cost $44 million to shoot, made $368 million domestic. Kopelson’s third biggie was David Fincher‘s Se7en (’95), which rewrote the serial killer genre and delivered one of the most stunning endings in motion-picture history.
I caught Platoon on opening night (12.19.86) at a theatre on La Brea just south of Melrose. I came out of the 7 pm show and spotted Kopelson standing under the marquee, alone. I went over, introduced myself and told him it’s an absolute hit and a near-certain Oscar nominee, etc. He presumably knew that but I wanted to tell him anyway. That film made me feel so great, so connected to everyone and everything. Historic.
Last night Indiewire‘s David Ehrlich tweeted what he described as “premature but final” Best Picture predictions. Here they are with HE assessments. Remember that as brilliant and knowledgable as Ehrlich is, he’s not a hot-dog-eating “man of the people” type like myself. He camps out in his own realm. That said…
1. Black Panther / HE says: Ryan Coogler‘s Marvel blockbuster will be Best Picture nominated, but it doesn’t really kick in until the last hour.
2. The Favourite / HE says: Good Barry Lyndon-esque, English royalty lesbo film for the first two thirds or thereabouts, but not so much during the last third. Possible nominee, no chance of winning.
3. First Man / HE says: On one hand a real “you are there, you are Neil” NASA movie by a first-rate auteur, and on the other hand an emotionally subdued thing that may not quite connect with Joe and Jane Popcorn. Will be Best Picture nominated.
4. Green Book / HE says: Exquisitely crated, perfectly acted feel-good period film that comes together just so and in just the right way. Could’ve been made 30 or even 40 years ago, but easily the most likable award-season flick out there. A Best Picture nominee, for sure. Might actually win.
4. On The Basis of Sex / HE says: The story of beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an automatic Best Picture nominee as a political-cultural counterweight to the Brett Kavanaugh episode.
5. Roma / HE says: Alfonso Cuaron‘s black-and-white period masterpiece will surely be nominated.
6. A Star Is Born / HE says: An almost certain Best Picture nominee, but there’s a good deal of pushback out there. I don’t see a win.
7. Vice / HE says: No clue, but Bale is a lock for Best Actor.
8. Widows / HE says: Best heist film I’ve seen in years and a tough Chicago story to boot. Will the Academy nominate a genre film that mixes larceny and local politics?
From a critic friend: “I saw Bohemian Rhapsody last night with 27-year-old son, who’s always been a huge Queen fan. As one who worked as a rock critic in the ’70s and ’80s, I’m a long-time Queen hater. I always found them pretentious then and still have not one minute to spare for their music. And yet we both agreed that Bohemian Rhapsody was unfortunately mediocre and cliched. Good performance by Rami Malek but with disappointingly and noticeably cheesy special effects recreating the Wembley crowd at Live Aid. Plus some very melodramatic scripting about his sexual preference. Here’s what I posted on Facebook: ‘I have to admit it would be difficult to review a rock biopic when it’s about a band I’ve always disdained and whose music I never liked. Even if it was a better film than Bohemian Rhapsody.'”
The well-heeled South Coast region of eastern Long Island (from Hampton Bays to East Hampton) is open and leafy with a nice settled vibe. Huge trees and big lawns, wealthy and low-key, no one out to prove anything. Route 27 or the Montauk highway is swamped with traffic 24/7, but as you drive along you’ll run into several food and fruit stands and every little town, it seems, has an old-fashioned, non-corporate ice-cream stand with a neon sign or some kind of mom-and-pop signage from the Leave It To Beaver era.
And then you leave Hampton Bays and drive in a northwesterly direction up 24 toward Riverhead. Five or so miles past Riverhead and you’ve crossed the Mason-Dixon line, and you’re suddenly in the general North Shore region with the whole vibe having turned corporate and the old-timey, family-run business vibe gone with the fucking wind. It’s really quite unattractive. The story of two Americas — the balmy, laid-back one that used to be and is preserved in the South Coast region, and the chilly, corporatized present-tense America as represented by the North Shore region.
A holy-shit report from the United Nations panel on climate change “paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought,” and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent,” per a 10.7 New York Times story by Coral Davenport.
The report, issued this morning by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”
Will the nationalist, ultra-right administrations around the globe pay the slightest attention? Of course they won’t. Will Donald Trump or Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro take heed? Of course not. Ae we locked into extreme weather patterns for the rest of our time on this planet? Yeah, we are. Will mass deprivation and devastation become our constant companions and plagues? Yes, they will. You’re fucked, I’m fucked…we’re all royally fucked. And you can blame the prehistoric climate-change deniers for this.
This is why obnoxious rightwing hard-heads are being elected all over. Because deep down people are sensing the coming apocalypse and realize that the multicultural have-nots are going to get angrier and angrier and start pushing harder and harder against the gates. Voters are figuring it’s better to be safe and selfish than let them in, and it’s therefore better to have a tough dickhead enforcing security and keeping the molcontents out.
In the wake of the Kavanaugh tragedy, a “don’t fuck with me” Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) toplining the sixth and presumably final season of House of Cards is perfect. You could almost call it brilliant. It certainly feels uncanny. The producers obviously couldn’t have anticipated the Kavanaugh confirmation or the tears of rage that followed, but here we are. All eight episodes will begin streaming on 11.2.18. I don’t care what else is happening — I’m staying indoors that day for the whole ride.