Set in a private mental institution, Robert Rossen‘s Lilith (’64) is about a young occupational therapist (Warren Beatty) who becomes obsessed with a schizophrenic patient with a laid-back vibe of scampy bohemian whatever-ness (Jean Seberg).
Rossen’s followup to The Hustler was sold as a serving of psychologically unbalanced eroticism with a little lesbo action (Seberg and another female patient) on the side.
The problem was that Lilith just laid there; it never drilled down or expanded or generated erotic steam. It mostly felt like a gloomhead variation of Frank Perry‘s David and Lisa, which had made an arthouse dent a couple of years earlier.
But oh, that aroma! These photos of Beatty and Seberg are still alluring, and I know full well that Lilith is a stiff. I’ve watched it twice, once on DVD and a second time on Bluray. The second viewing was partly about wanting to savor the back-and-white photography in 1080p, and partly about a feeling that I may have missed something the first time.
Name a film or two that seemed initially fascinating to go by the stills, trailer, ad copy and even the reviews. But when you sat down and actually watched the damn thing your spirit collapsed like a circus tent.
Sidewalk surveillance robots have been operating on San Francisco sidewalks for a couple of years now, but until yesterday morning I’d never personally encountered one. It senses your presence, checks you out and will roll out of your way if you come too close. In a phrase, cautious and deferential.
Esquire‘s Kate Storey has written an admiring profile of Eon Productions’ Barbara Broccoli. To the manor born in 1960, Broccoli has been the prime mover and shaker behind the 007 James Bond franchise since 1995, or roughly a year before her father, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, who had launched the Bond series with partner Harry Saltzman in 1962, passed away.
I’m no Cubby biographer, but I did meet and briefly chat with the guy 37 years ago on the Pinewood set of For Your Eyes Only. Like all hotshot producers Cubby was a slick operator and almost certainly tough as nails, but his natural social default was to play the amiable panda bear, an unassuming roly-poly with a disarming sense of humor.
Everyone acknowledges Barbara Broccoli but no one takes her very seriously because she and half-brother Michael Wilson are caretakers. They’re looking to keep the pistons pumping so they can continue to reap the flush-lifestyle benefits and so she can produce the occasional play — that’s it, the whole raison d’etre.
If I were Broccoli I’d do the same thing, I suppose, but the Bond films have been aggressively soul-less, less-than-meaningless exercises in aggressive macho-comic bullshit for so long it looks like up to me.
When was the last time a Bond film really connected with the culture in a viral, explosive, slam-bang way that hit a projected-values recognition button and resulted in waves of primal excitement and a double-urgent “drop what you’re doing and see this film right now”? I’ll tell you when that time was. It was 53 and 1/2 years ago when Goldfinger opened in the fall of ’64.
Posted on 10.2.15: In my humble view the best James Bond films are the first two — Terence Young‘s Dr. No (’62) and From Russia With Love (’63). These are the only ones featuring a lean and rugged Sean Connery without an obvious toupee and before he began to pack on a couple of pounds, and facing semi-believable combatants in a half-credible, real-world milieu.
After these two a sense of technological swagger and more than a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor started to penetrate the franchise with Guy Hamilton‘s Goldfinger (’64) — the last Bond film you could accept as an occasionally semi-realistic fantasy. These are the only three I re-watch on Bluray, although I don’t like Goldfinger as much as the first two.
I have a certain affection for Lewis Gilbert‘s The Spy Who Loved Me (’77) — the beginning of a brief ’70s period when the 007 series descended into light comedy. There was an effort to use a bit less gadgetry in John Glen‘s For Your Eyes Only (’81 — the only Bond film I ever paid a visit to at Pinewood) and I didn’t mind Glen’s The Living Daylights (’87). And I was amused by the return of Connery is Irvin Kershner‘s Never Say Never Again (’83). And I admit to feeling a surge of excitement when I first saw Martin Campbell‘s Casino Royale (’06)
“Joe Biden is the Democrats’ answer to the hunger to ‘make America great again,’ dressed up in liberal clothes.
“For his whole career, Biden’s role has been to comfort the lost, prized, and most fondly imagined Democratic voter, the one who’s like him: that guy in the diner, that guy in Ohio, that guy who’s white and so put off by the changed terms of gendered and racial power in this country that decades ago he fled for the party that was working to roll back the social advancements that had robbed him of his easy hold on power. That guy who believed that the system worked best when it worked for him.
“The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie has in fact argued that Biden’s racial politics have offered a form of Trumpism on the left, a “liberal cover to white backlash.” To that I would add, he has provided liberal cover to anti-feminist backlash, the kind of old-fashioned paternalism of powerful men who don’t take women’s claims to their reproductive, professional, or political autonomy particularly seriously, who walk through the world with a casual assurance that men’s access to and authority over women’s bodies is natural. In an attempt to win back That Guy, Joe Biden has himself, so very often, been That Guy.
“Now it seems, That Guy is widely viewed as the best and safest candidate to get us out of this perilous and scary political period. But the irony is that so much of what is terrifying and dangerous about this time — the Trump administration, the ever more aggressive erosion of voting and reproductive rights, the crisis in criminal justice and yawning economic chasm between the rich and everyone else — are in fact problems that can in part be laid at the feet of Joe Biden himself, and the guys we’ve regularly been assured are Democrats’ only answer.
“Biden is the gaffe-master, the affable fuck-up, and also, oddly, the politician who’s supposed to make us feel safe. He is the amiable, easygoing, handsy-but-harmless guy who’s never going to give you a hard time about your own handsiness or prejudice, who’s gonna make a folksy argument about enacting fundamentally restrictive policies.” — from “Joe Biden Isn’t the Answer” by Rebecca Traister, posted on 3.29.19.
Robert Mueller‘s decision to punt on the Trump-Russia investigation (“Lots of indications but no smoking gun, can’t really prove anything, read the full report and draw your own conclusions”) was underwhelming at best, and misleading at worst.
The expectation all along was that Mueller’s extensive probe was going to deliver hard indictable truths about Trump and his sociopathic finaglings. His report may well do that when the completely un-redacted version finally slips out, but right now it’s deeply infuriating that so many journalists and editors decided to offer a semblance of immediate acceptance and respect to Attorney General William Barr‘s semi-exonerating four-page summary.
It’s simply not permissible to ignore the fact that Trump nominated Barr for Attorney General because of Barr’s unsolicited 20-page memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, sent in June ’18, which argued that the Mueller’s approach to potential obstruction of justice by Trump was “fatally misconceived” and that, based on his knowledge, Trump’s actions were within his presidential authority.
After a brief theatrical window, John Lee Hancock‘s The Highwaymen is now playing on Netflix. A couple of weeks ago I posted a paywalled HE-plus review. As a special one-time-only Saturday morning allowance, here it is gratis. What the hell, right?
“The Highwaymen is a decent enough thing — a flavorful period procedural about how the notorious Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and cut into shreds and pieces by ex-Texas Rangers Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson)…oh, Maney! On a quiet woodsy Louisiana road on 5.23.34, way down in Bienville Parish.
The killers were actually Hamer and Gault and four other guys. They unloaded big-time and put between 25 and 50 bullets into each criminal. And nobody gave a damn if one was a woman who liked to read movie magazines.
Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty’s Bonnie and Clyde (’67) didn’t exactly sympathize with the infamous pair, but portrayed them as crazy none-too-brights on an impulsive, violent romp across the dust-bowl states. Or, if you will, spirited working-class outlaws pushing back against a rigged Depression-era system that made things tough on poor working folks.
The Highwaymen is the flip side of the coin. The basic view is that Bonnie and Clyde were diseased and inhuman and that somebody had to put them down like rabid dogs, and that it took a couple of tough old coots like Hamer and Gault to get the job done.
On top of which the aging Hamer and Gault are portrayed as the last of a dying breed, wondering at times if they “have it” any more, whether or not their instincts have gone to seed, whether they’re respected. All is well by the finale.
Born in 1884, Gault was 50 at the time of Bonnie and Clyde’s killing, and far from what anyone would call “old.” Costner, born in January ’55, was 63 or thereabouts when they filmed, or 13 years creasier than the Real McCoy.
I’m not saying that “handsy” Joe Biden isn’t fated to face some kind of #MeToo or #TimesUp inquiry along the lines of what Al Franken went through, or that in a fair and just world Biden isn’t culpable in having brought this about by his own past behavior. Maybe. But there’s an emerging suspicion, at least in some quarters, that this anti-Joe site, which I discovered last night, is the creation of pro-Trump forces. Because it’s widely believed that Team Trump is more worried about Biden than anyone else. Thoughts?
I don’t know how Avengers: Endgame (Disney, 4.26) will unfold over its three-hour running time, but we all have a sneaking suspicion that the disintegrated will somehow reconstitute by the end. Right? Don’t we? If this doesn’t happen I’ll be amazed. As in genuinely impressed.
All I wanted from Avengers: Infinity War was to see Robert Downey‘s insufferably smug Tony Stark die and stay dead forever. But nope.
HE boilerplate: “You can’t trust a Marvel film to deliver death with any finality because Kevin Feige doesn’t respect death any more than comic-book creators respect it, which is not at all. Or woundings, for that matter. The MCU mostly regards death and serious physical injury as a tease, a plot toy, something to fiddle or fuck with until an apparently dead character comes back to life.”
Mick Jagger‘s health is in such a highly uncertain, precarious or threatened condition that his doctors, out of the blue, have told him he can’t perform in the next phase of the Rolling Stones’ “No Filter” tour, which would’ve launched only three weeks from now in Miami. Or at least not until Mick receives “medical treatment.”
And so the tour has been deep-sixed until further notice.
An official statement, quoted by Variety, says that “doctors have advised Mick that he is expected to make a complete recovery so that he can get back on stage as soon as possible.”
Medical prudence is always a good idea, but in terms of the enormous physical and financial demands of a major Rolling Stones tour, cancelling only three weeks before kickoff suggests a certain urgency. One presumes that Jagger’s unspecified health concern is outside the realm of the usual transitional ailments.
Arguably the the leanest, spry-est and healthiest-seeming 20th Century rocker around, at least as far as appearances have been concerned over the last half-century and beyond, Jagger is 75 and 2/3. He’ll hit the big seven-six on 7.26.19.
Jagger statement: “I hate letting our [North American] fans down and I’m hugely disappointed to have to postpone the tour but am looking forward to getting back on stage as soon as I can.”
A single inappropriate kissing accusation won’t be much of a problem for Joe Biden, but a few more accusations could amount to a serious problem. Stories like this reenforce the default “dirty old sexist dinosaur” thing — notions that Biden may be cut from the same rogue cloth as Bill Clinton and the late George H.W. Bush, who got hit with two or three such accusations a year or so before he passed. We all know how this goes.
What say ye, Sasha Stone? Is Lucy Flores, the former Democratic nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor, doing this on behalf of one of Joe’s rivals? What maneuverings led to her decision to speak out?
Sasha Sez: “He kissed the back of her head. She was made ‘uncomfortable’ and only to a mass hysteria-afflicted mob would this be a big deal. What they don’t realize is that all this shows is just how easy we are to break, how easily undone we are and that our standards are so ridiculously high no one will pass muster. Also, it turns out that the woman in this article is a major Bernie Sanders supporter – she wants to help knock Joe out. What SHE doesn’t realize is that Bernie is next to be accused. It is just too easy now and so no one will be immune.”