Hollywood Elsewhere is attending a hush-hush, blood-oath, sworn-to-secrecy Once Upon A Time in Hollywood shindig this evening at a location to be announced later tonight or tomorrow morning. It’s partly a push party for OUATIH‘s Oscar prospects (Best Picture, Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor, etc.) but mainly a promotion of the home-video release. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is now streaming (1080p plus 4K) and will be released on physical media (4K, Bluray, DVD) on Tuesday, 12.10. We’re talking, of course, about the 20-minute-longer version (Rick Dalton in The Great Escape, black-and-white Red Apple cigarette ad).
From “Same Old Wackadoodle,” posted on 5.19.19: The idea was that Terrence Malick‘s A Hidden Life might represent a return to a kind of filmmaking that Malick hadn’t really embraced since Days of Heaven, which was shot 43 years ago and released in the fall of ’78.
Because over the last decade (and I wish this were not so) Malick has made and released four story-less, mapped-out but improvised dandelion-fuzz movies — The Tree of Life (’10), To The Wonder (’12), Knight of Cups (’15) and Song to Song (’17).
The fact that The Tree of Life was widely regarded as the first and best of Malick’s dandelion fuzzies (the principal traits being a meditative, interior-dreamscape current plus whispered narration, no “dialogue” to speak of and Emmanuel Lubezski cinematography that captures the wondrous natural beauty of God’s kingdom)…the fact that The Tree of Life was the finest of these doesn’t change what it basically is.
So does A Hidden Life represent a return to the old days? Does it deliver an actual story with, like, a beginning, middle and end? Does it offer a semblance of character construction and narrative tension with some kind of skillfully assembled climax, etc.?
No, it doesn’t. For Malick has gone back to the same old dandelion well with a generous lathering of Austrian countryside visuals plus some World War II period trimmings.
Malick’s script tells Jagerstatter’s story but obliquely, as you might expect. The big dramatic turns are “there”, sort of, but are dramatically muted or side-stepped for the most part. I hate to repeat myself but A Hidden Life generally embodies a meditative, interior-dreamscape approach plus whispered narration, some “dialogue” but most of it spoken softly or muttered plus a lot of non-verbal conveyances, and some truly wonderful eye-bath cinematography by Jörg Widmer that more than lives up to Lubezski standards.
Should attitudes about allegedly heinous sexual behavior be mitigated by the passage of several decades? If a certain industry bigwig in his 50s is credibly accused of having harassed or assaulted a woman nine months or two years or even a decade ago, is that the same kind of outrage as an 86-year-old director having allegedly done something equally awful 40 or 45 years ago, when he was in his early to mid 40s and, not incidentally, swimming in the sexually wanton waters of the ’70s?
The conventional response would be “no, time doesn’t matter, doesn’t mitigate anything — a criminal is a criminal is a criminal.” And I’m not disagreeing with that. The opposite view is that an 86 year-old Roman Polanski, married with two grown kids, isn’t the same person he was 40 or 45 years ago. Emotionally, psychologically, even on a cellular-makeup level, that person literally doesn’t exist any more.
A separate view is that many respected filmmakers, especially those who were running around with power in the freewheeling ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, are unfortunately guilty of blemished or dishonorable behavior in the sexual arena. It’s very hard to find a famous person who doesn’t have some kind of skeleton in their closet, and the fact is that rebels and malcontents are often drawn to the creative realm, etc. The bottom line is when you start saying “your decades-old sexual history is too odious for us to allow you to be nominated for a Cesar or an Oscar”…where do you draw the line? Or do you draw it at all?
Certain French actors and filmmakers — Catherine Zavlav (Kabul Kitchen), Andrea Bescond and Eric Metayer (Little Tickles) and director Amandine Gay (Speak Up) — along with the U.S.-based Rosanna Arquette are calling on the European Film Awards to rescind Roman Polanski‘s nominations for An Officer and a Spy ahead of the 12.7 Cesar awards.
“The movie industry’s acceptance of Polanski must end…its complicit willingness to ‘separate the art from the artist’ must end,” a protest statement reads. “We ask that you also step forward and take a stand against sexual violence as movie industry professionals and European citizens. We ask you to shine your spotlight on rape culture in Europe and to shame, rather than laud, its perpetrators in the film industry.”
When you finally arrive at the mostly empty and semi-secluded El Matador, La Piedra and Leo Carillo state beaches, the effort feels worth it. For a while.
But getting there is hell unless (a) you’re on a motorcycle or an HE-approved rumblehog or (b) you manage to avoid peak traffic by traveling between 11 pm and 6 am. Most of the time there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between PCH and the 405. It’s basically about cars and the near-futility of finding a parking spot (unless you’re visiting the afore-mentioned, Trancas-area beaches) and that constant whaagghhh of traffic and that atmosphere of speed and aggression and predatory restaurants and the suffocating howl of it all. It just drains your soul.
I’ve visited so many tranquil and extra-beautiful and far-from-the-madding-crowd beach areas around the world (in Northern California and Oregon, in central Vietnam, Key West, Maine, New Jersey’s Long Beach island…yes, even in New Jersey!…France’s Côte d’Azur, Marina del Campo on the island of Elba, Baja California, Cape Cod, San Blas and Playa del Carmen and Cozumel in Mexico, and I’m sorry but alongside these havens the Malibu region is nothing to cherish or speak fondly of.
It’s one thing if you own a nice canyon home or cliffside spread or if you’re jogging along the track at Pepperdine U., but otherwise “later.”
Two and a half years ago Tatyana and I got married on La Piedra State Beach, which is way out in western Malibu and about a half-mile from the Trancas shopping center. Today we re-visited the exact same spot for old times sake, and did a little roaming around. We ran into a U.S.-born Russian woman named Irina, and she agreed to take a few shots.
Early today I was reading Owen Gleiberman’s 11.30 essay about the late John Simon. An honest assessment, if on the unkind side. I was thinking how we’re not allowed to be kind to guys like Simon in death, lest we be cast into the pit and stoned to death ourselves. We’re not even allowed to be fair-minded, for the most part. Then again there’s a money quote in Gleiberman’s piece, and when I read it I thought “Jesus, Simon actually said that?” I’m sure he thought better of that remark the next day, but God, what a horrific aspect of his personality. An erudite, dapperly dressed, old-world Hungarian vampire with a certain taste for derision and at times dismissive cruelty. He could have done with less of that, obviously, but then again that was Simon, warts and all. His venom truly was his brand. Take that away, and you have a smart but rather stuffy middlebrow critic who we wouldn’t even be talking about today.
I’ve been visiting Malibu’s Paradise Cove cafe since the ’80s. It’s never been a sophisticated place, but I’ve always liked the ramshackle vibe. For decades it’s been serving basic blue-collar meals to Joe Schmoe family types. There are always kids running around, and almost everything you order comes with an animal-sized pile of fries. Apart from the pleasant beachside setting, the upside has always been that the food prices were generally tolerable.
Well, no longer. Now it’s an overpriced ripoff (or my idea of one). It’s still the same noisy, schlubby restaurant, but now you have to pay at least $10 or $12 more per plate than they used to charge a decade ago, and on top of that you have to pay through the nose for parking.
Earlier this evening Tatyana and I dropped by Paradise Cove for a fish-and-chips plate plus a Coke. (It was actually me doing the ordering — Tatyana refused to order out of a general distaste for the atmosphere.) When all was said and done the bill was $43 ($38 for the grub + taxes + $5 tip). And then we had to pay $10 for parking, and that was with a validated ticket — it would have been $15 if we hadn’t ordered.
53 bills to eat an oily fish-and-chips plate at a no-great-shakes, down-at-the-heels meathead restaurant with sand on the floor? There’s no way I paid that much when I last visited here, sometime around a decade ago. Right now everything on the menu costs at least $10 or $12 more than it should. Tonight’s tab should have been $30 or $35, all in.
I don’t mind paying top dollar for an elegant eating experience at a place like Angelini Osteria on Beverly or Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica Canyon, but I expect lower pricing at a mongrel family joint like the Paradise Cove cafe.
The profit-hungry parties are Paradise Cove owners Bob and Kerry Morris.
This may sound like some kind of needlessly harsh, extreme prejudice dismissal, but it’s not intended to be that. I’m just honestly confessing that my primary reaction as I watched this Rise of Skywalker trailer this morning was “again?” How many more fierce light-saber duels am I going to have to watch? How many more scenes of evil Kylo, intense Rey, grumpy Luke, dutiful Finn, heroic Poe Dameron, demonic Palpatine, chubby Rose Tico, gender-fluid Lando Calrissian, etc.?
I’ve had it with this whole thing. I just don’t feel it anymore, and I was feeling it somewhat with The Force Awakens and to a slightly greater extent with The Last Jedi. But I’m all tapped out, man. My heart is spent. The legend has run out of gas.
I think it was that idiotic Last Jedi finale when Luke hoodwinks Kylo Ren with some of kind of projected film-flammery. At that moment something snapped inside. Or collapsed. I think I said from my seat in the Chinese, “Ahhh, fuck this noise.”
The big media-screening day is on Tuesday, 12.17. The commercial opening is on Thursday, 12.19.
There is “easy listening” music (generally derided, in some quarters spat upon) and then there’s your tart but gentle Sunday morning playlist. I’m talking about a certain kind of adult-minded song, simply sung and accompanied by low-key, non-strenuous instrumentation, one that’s best appreciated around 9:30 am on a Sunday morning, preferably at a mid-range volume and over your first cup of strong coffee.
Backstreet Girl is definitely one of these. Partly because the song isn’t describing a mellow, kindly, “life is beautiful” situation. It’s basically about cruel discipline. A song that says “restrain your emotions and stay in your place.” Or, more concisely, “don’t push it.”
The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” and “Carolina In My Mind” are nice Sunday morning-ers also, agreed, and they also sound great when you’re driving late at night on the 405. But they don’t have that Rolling Stones-y edge. Without that this post would make me sound like a gelatinous softie.
“Warren/Sanders: If you combine the support of the two billionaire-bashing socialists, they lead the field. You might consider vacationing in Venezuela before committing to them or they could run together as the End of Days ticket.
Biden/Bloomberg: Like Bloomberg, Biden has been forced to grovel and renounce all past career accomplishments on crime prevention.
Harris/Booker: They’re having trouble lighting the spark, even with some black voters.
Klobuchar/Buttigieg: They are the two least crazy people in the field, which means they have absolutely no chance.”
Kevin doesn’t hate Pete!
This is what’s known as an “obiter dicta” — words in passing that give the game away. Amy hasn’t a prayer so Kevin is basically saying Pete is the only credible Democratic contender who doesn’t make him throw up. Being called one of the “two least crazy people in the field” is another way of saying “Pete isn’t my guy but he has certain half-tolerable qualities, including a respect for people of faith.” You could take Kevin’s expression of limited support and turn it into “I guess if Pete won the Presidency, it wouldn’t be an absolute catastrophe.”
This implies that tens of thousands of other conflicted Trump fans out there might feel the same way. Think about that.
I’ll always be flummoxed by how a guy who had this kind of ruggedly mystical, two-steps-back, accepting-the-complex-wonder-of-it-all view of life, not to mention a guy with one of the most glorious and enviable gigs imaginable (touring the globe in search of great food, wise and wonderful people and organic, non-corporate culture)…how does a guy with this much access to the sublime joy of so much varied and nourishing experience (not to mention being well paid) hang himself in a bathroom?