I was thinking earlier today about poor Albert Finney, and began to surf around. I came upon this Shoot The Moon restaurant scene. It has a striking, abrasive vibe, but it doesn’t entirely work.
If only Finney and Diane Keaton had been told by director Alan Parker to try and keep their voices down in the early stages, and then gradually lose control. Nobody is this gauche, this oblivious to fellow diners.
The balding, red-haired guy with his back to the camera (James Cranna) played “Gerald” in the Beverly Hills heroin-dealing scene in Karel Reisz‘s Who’ll Stop The Rain?.
Shoot The Moon was streamable at one time or another, but it’s “currently unavailable.”
So Roma won the top prize at the BAFTAs — terrific, hearty congrats. But the Best Picture Oscar race is still between Roma and Green Book, and the opinions of the BAFTA gang, announced two or three hours ago, probably won’t influence this either-or. Most Academy voters have made their minds up by this stage. The die is cast.
It’ll still come down to whether or not Green Book or Roma will benefit more from the preferential ballot system than the other, and that means…I don’t know what it means.
Word around the campfire, however, says Green Book might be in a better position due to a strong showing in the #2 or #3 slots, and that some voters (older, Netflix opponents, ADD) are allegedly listing Roma at the bottom of their lists so it won’t benefit from p.b. math. Or something like that.
The Favourite‘s Olivia Colman won for Best Actress, but that’s at least partly about hometown sentiment. The Wife‘s Glenn Close still has the Oscar in the bag.
Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Rami Malek won BAFTA’s Best Actor trophy — is there ANYONE betting against him winning the Best Actor Oscar at this stage?
Here are two riffs from Owen Gleiberman‘s review of Rob Garver‘s What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael. Why the review is appearing now after premiering five and a half months ago at Telluride is a head-scratcher, but it’s one of Gleiberman’s most assured, best-written raves. Plus he really knows what he’s talking about:
Excerpt #1: “We hear an excerpt from one of the Bay Area radio broadcasts that won Kael her first real following. The review, of Hiroshima Mon Amour, is captivating in its balloon-puncturing derision, but what’s priceless is the voice: honey-smooth and insinuating, with an echo of Hollywood’s wisecracking broads of the ’30s, her silky enunciation used as a weapon, all held together by Kael’s conspicuous joy at turning film reviewing into a performance.
Excerpt #2: “That’s what Kael made criticism — a prose version of performance art, a song of the self. And why not? The movies themselves demanded nothing less.”
Excerpt #3: “What She Said captures the unique intersection of a fearless critic, a movie renaissance, and a time when a mainstream writer could seduce and challenge her audience by operating with supreme freedom. That was the glory of Pauline, the unhinged liberation of every idea and feeling she shared. Reading her, what you got addicted to was her freedom of thought. That was Kael’s art, and “What She Said does a fantastic job of channeling it.”
“It’s much better than that. I found it wonderfully alive and attuned, electric, bracingly intelligent, well-honed and about as spot-on as a doc of this sort can be.
An HE:plus hors d’oeuvre, posted on 1.17.19: I’ve been a mildly angry guy most of my life. Contrarian, questioning authority, a pushback instinct. Born of my father’s alcoholism, aloofness and general disdain. Over the last 25 years of journalistic endeavor it’s been slipping out by way of the “three sees” — cerebral, channelled, controlled. But in my late teens the anger was more eruptive and hair-triggerish, and one day in a high-school hallway it almost ruined my life. Except it didn’t, thank God.
I’be forgotten some of the particulars but I know that The Incident happened late in the school year, perhaps in early May. The senior graduation ceremony was just around the corner. Tension had been brewing between myself and Wilton High School’s vice-principal, a somewhat brittle-mannered guy in his mid 40s. He had cold gray eyes and a silvery flattop, and I remember thinking time and again that he was an officious prick. Not my kind of guy.
I recall that we were standing in a hallway near the school offices and the main doors, and that he was accusing me of something or other. Or admonishing me for some failing. I gave him the requisite amount of lip and attitude and he reacted angrily, and then grabbed me by the arm in order to walk me down to the detention room or off the premises or whatever. A stern show of disciplinary force.
That’s when I lost it. Rather than be led away I shoved him, hard. He staggered for a step or two and said “whoa!”, and looked at me with shock and surprise. His eyes said “did you just do that?” That’s exactly what I was asking myself at the moment. It was like my angry no-good brother had pushed him and not me. But it was me, all right — me and my stored-up rage.
Almost every day I’m in agony over HE-plus, or rather my constant failure to post fresh material on it. When HE:plus launched last summer my plan was to split my daily postings — half HE classic, half HE:plus. Or maybe a 60-40 split. But as God is my witness I haven’t been able to make myself do this.
I felt that I had to post the timely, here-and-now stuff on HE regular and the colorful, personal, deep-dive stuff on HE:plus. So I would do that but I’d feel so whipped from writing five or six HE posts that I wouldn’t have the energy for HE:plus. Every damn day. I was doing my best to keep it going over the last few months, but I really couldn’t make myself post during the Sundance and Santa Barbara festivals. And now I’m back on the rodent treadmill.
I’m a slave to Hollywood Elsewhere as it is — five, six, seven posts a day — but I can’t be a slave to both sites. At times it feels as if I’m crumbling from the anxiety and pressure and constant overwork.
I had dinner with a fellow columnist just as Sundance was beginning, and he suggested that I commit to an on-and-off strategy. Post 60% or 70% on HE:plus on a given week, and 30% or 40% of HE regular. And then reverse things the following week — 60% or 70% HE classic, 30% or 40% HE:plus. And stick with that. It sounds like a plan, and I guess that’s how I’ll play it starting tomorrow, but I still have this deep-set conviction that the hot immediate stuff HAS to be on HE regular.
I’ve been doing Hollywood Elsewhere for 14 and 1/2 years — HE:plus is only a few months old.
Hollywood Elsewhere earned relatively decent ad revenue over the last three or four months (or at least better than last year), but I still need to generate supplementary income to make it all come out right.
The ache and anxiety are considerable.
Six months ago I posted a strongly negative reaction to Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind. It was still a hot, unseen item at the time (except for those who’d seen it in Venice, Telluride and Toronto) and so HE commenters had little to say beyond (a) “we love Orson and Wells is therefore a jerk”, (b) “Wells has a general animus toward large, round objects” and so on.
One HE commenter who’d seen it, Rosso Veneziano, pretty much agreed with me: “I didn’t understand a damn thing about it. What was the point? What was happening? I was somehow fascinated, the audience laughed at the beginning here and there, but the more it went on the more it was unbearable. It’s a memory movie, it has its place in a museum like an art installation you watch for 15-20 minutes during your Welles tour. But the big screen doesn’t do it any favor.”
The Other Side of the Wind began streaming on Netflix on 11.2, or over three months ago. Surely everyone has had a looksee by now. Please fire away, no holding back.
Posted on 9.19.18: “The Other Side of the Wind is a bitter, cynical, sometimes darkly funny hodgepodge, an inside-new-Hollywood movie that was filmed on the fly between 1970 and ’75 in various formats, and a film that has a lot on its mind but has crawled so far up its own ass that the viewer can’t hope to enjoy much access.
“It’s not a good film. Any film that makes you say ‘wait…what’s happening?’ or ‘what was that line?’ over and over is doing something wrong. It’s so damn spotty and splotchy. So scatter-gun, so haphazardly chop-chop and cut-cut. It never achieves a rhythm or a sense of flow-through or harmony of any kind. Within 10 or 15 minutes I was feeling exhausted.
“It’s about an old craggy director named Jake Hannafort (John Huston) who sees himself as cut from the Ernest Hemingway cloth, and who’s just back from Europe and trying to find money to finish a film or start a new one or something along these lines. And so he throws a party in the desert and dozens attend — rivals, colleagues, managers, film critics, sycophants, students with cameras, wannabes, old friends.
“Nobody ever seems to actually converse in an engaging, back-and-forth way. Nobody seems to listen to anyone else. It’s all bitter talk, fuck talk, belch…bitter talk, fuck talk, belch…bitter talk, fuck talk, belch…bitter talk, fuck talk, belch…bitter talk, fuck talk, belch, etc.
“It would be one thing if everyone was improvising and Welles was gradually threading their material into some kind of half-assed narrative that delivered some kind of attitude or metaphorical mood, but everyone (and I mean especially the name-brand actors) is (a) “acting” and (b) obviously “speaking lines,” and it just doesn’t work.
“Withered, craggy-faced Huston keeps puffing away on that cigar and regarding everyone with suspicion or disdain or a combination of both. Lili Palmer (a replacement for Marlene Dietrich) just sits around and says her lines in a deadpan way. Chubby-faced Peter Bogdanovich (playing a hot young director named Brooks Otterlake) says his lines with a tone of wry self-amusement. Susan Strasberg (a Pauline Kael stand-in) says her lines in a kind of needling, challenging way. Cameron Mitchell just hangs around and says his lines; ditto puffy-faced Edmond O’Brien. Paul Stewart says his lines in the usual Stewart way…seen it all, heard it all. Joe McBride says his lines with a certain sardonic edge. But I couldn’t latch onto anything or anyone. The film refuses to sink in.
“Where is this going? What is there to learn or care about? Where is the soul of this film? Who wants to wade through this fucking mess of a movie? This is so inside-baseball I’m getting a headache.
“Nothing really happens except that (a) everyone on the studio lot is invited to Jake’s party in the desert, (b) everyone arrives at the desert-house party and starts making sage, cutting remarks about this, that or another thing…yap-yappity-yap-yappity-yap-yap, (c) everyone becomes more and more drunk and cynical and despairing, (d) everyone heads for an outdoor drive-in to watch Jake’s movie, and then (e) Jake drives off in a Porsche and dies. (Except he does this at the very beginning, or before the beginning)
“Robert Altman used to be so much better at this kind of thing — he would capture little snips and quips and cut away to this or that and somehow it would all fit together, but Orson’s film is so fucking “written out” and everyone is so determined to “act” (i.e., sell the moment, charm the audience) as well as radiate cynical or bitter or burnt-out or testy or pissed-off attitudes or feelings.
“Does anyone in this film care about anything or anyone? I didn’t give a fuck about anyone or anything. At all. It really, really doesn’t work.