The bad guy in the Captain Brett Crozier termination episode is acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who is naturally (what else?) a Trump appointee. Crozier was dismissed yesterday (Thursday, 4.2) “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command and for not using his chain of command to make service leaders aware of his concerns about the coronavirus outbreak that had infected more than 100 sailors on the ship.” Translation: Crozier was canned for allowing a letter of concern to leak to the press.
Believe it or not there are people out there who would actually prefer the black clunky shoe over the yellow, non-whiteside loafer. They would actually wear shoes like this with contentment and pride. I don’t know what to say to people like this, but the yellows are obviously the only choice. I understand that they might offend certain people, but if you’re into black clunkers I don’t want to know you. Look at how stupidly shiny they are. If I saw you walking in my direction I’d cross the street and pretend to be in a conversation on my phone, keeping my eyes on the sidewalk.
This scene is what sold me on Leonardo DiCaprio‘s potential. Not This Boy’s Life or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, both of which I respected but didn’t especially like, much less want to see a second time. His performance as Arnie was fascinating but at the same time over-delivered, and I couldn’t stand the sight of his (and Johnny Depp‘s) massively obese mom. The Quick and the Dead struck me as posturing flash-bang. Then came The Basketball Diaries, in which Leo played poet-writer Jim Carroll (who died in 2009) and his desperate, smack-addicted life. After this scene I said to myself, “Okay, sooner or later Leo’s gonna hit big.”
“Lulling” is one word that describes “Pretty Ballerina“, a gently baroque single released in December ’66 by the Left Banke. Definitely lacking in any sense of raunch or territorial machismo, which is striking for a song about a guy consumed by erotic longing for a bandmate’s girlfriend (i.e., Renee Fladen). Michael Brown‘s singing is delicate and dreamy. (I almost wrote wimpy.) You could say it reps a sub-genre of unrequited jukebox love songs — “She’s Not There,” “Girl“, “Walk Away Renee,” “Jesse’s Girl”, etc. Always a soother.
HE to Journo Pally: I’m starting to feel like the alcoholic guy sitting on a barstool inside the Bodega Bay cafe in The Birds. I’ve also become, in a manner of speaking, a born-again Christian. As in “please God, make this thing go away by the mid to late summer, or certainly by Labor Day.”
HE to Adele Haenel and the international #MeToo Community:
Last night I re-watched Roman Polanski‘s The Pianist, which I hadn’t seen for roughly 17 years. I watched it because I’d recently seen Polanski’s J’Accuse, and was reminded of what a brilliant artist he’s always been, especially when the spirit is upon him. Repulsion, Knife in The Water, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Tess, The Ghost Writer, Cul de Sac — uncomfortable as this may seem to some, there is unmistakable genius in the man. He also radiates (and you really have to be exceptionally stupid to miss this) basic compassion. You can always feel the pulse in a Polanski film.
You can’t watch The Pianist and not say to yourself, “The man who made this clearly knows the horror that Warsaw Jews experienced during the German occupation of the early to mid ’40s, and also knows about love, family and kindness.” I was also reminded that many of the same qualities — frankness, intelligence, scrupulous attention to detail, magnificent visual compositions — are abundant in J’Accuse.
The difference, of course, is that anyone can watch The Pianist, but no one in the U.S. and England can watch J’Accuse in a theatre, on a Bluray or even via streaming.
Because of you guys. Because you believe that Polanski’s rep must be permanently tarred and feathered and therefore J’Accuse, too, must be buried or otherwise scrubbed from existence. Because of reputedly credible accusations of Polanski having behaved badly and perhaps even criminally with certain younger women in the ’70s and ’80s. And because the distribution community is terrified of what you’ll say and do if one of their number would even consider streaming J’Accuse.
Here’s the thing — Polanski the man is not the same thing as Polanski the artist. His depiction of awful or ghastly things in his films (he’s never explored Pollyanic fantasy and escapism) has never conveyed a corrosion or poisoning of his own spirit. He understands what goes, how it all works, who the good guys are. This is quite evident in The Pianist and J’Accuse. But the latter is nonetheless going to be buried for a long time to come, or so I’m told.
To hear it from distributors, the #MeToo community has destroyed any possibility of J’Accuse being seen theatrically in this country, but is it really necessary to keep this truly magnificent and honorable film from being streamed? Prevented from simply being watched and contemplated privately, domestically?
You should understand that this is not a good look for #MeToo. If not now then certainly in the near future and for all time to come.
HE to Parisian distribution sales guy (sent Tuesday night): “How many millions in this pandemic would love to buy access to Roman Polanski‘s J’Accuse? All you have to do is allow streaming from France to the US. Please level with me. You guys aren’t interested in tapping the English-speaking U.S., British and Canadian streaming market because of fears of the French #MeToo community? You’re afraid of what Adele Haenel might say? Is that it? Please forgive me but this seems so wrong.”
Parisian distribution sales guy to HE (late Wednesday night): “To make it simple, no streaming company operating in the UK or US will risk putting Polanski’s J’Accuse on their service. It has nothing to do with the potential customers but rather with the association of the Polanski brand. A streamer takes fewer chances if he/she doesn’t offer a Polanski title than if he/she does. But times may change…”
There is no place on the entire globe in which the coronavirus is more widespread, concentrated or deadly than in the five boroughs of New York City and Northern New Jersey. (NJ’s death toll doubled in two days.) Call it Plague City — a metropolitan death camp. And it’s going to get worse very soon. Fresh ventilators will be gone in a few days’ time, and then bodies will really start piling up. President Trump is mainly giving ventilators to rightwing governors of red and purple states (Florida) and letting the blue states scramble as best they can.
Trump is a malignant sociopath; NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (the source of the “assume you are on your own” quote) is an imperfect human being, of course, but God, the gaping differences between himself and A Toxic Orange…obvious to all but the stupidest people out there, many of whom (as has been pointed out over and over) are Trump loyalists.
Ida Sessions (over the phone): “Are you alone, Mr. Gittes?” Gittes: “Aren’t we all?”
HE’s personal physician, speaking this morning about a recent N.Y. Times article about the alleged effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine:
And yet (and I’m certainly no fan of “Nazi Barbie”**)…
‘Hydroxychloroquine is a game changer and the beginning of the end coronavirus pandemic” — Infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Smith.
** Sasha Stone‘s term for Laura Ingraham.
Biggest HE Fear: What if the pandemic stretches into the early fall, which would cause the cancellation of Venice, Telluride and Toronto? Or, worse, if award season is somehow restricted or even cancelled itself? I’ll be forced to freelance, become an interior paint designer with cool colors, walk dogs, drive an Uber. I’d better send my revised book proposals out now. Please, Lord — arrange it so the pandemic starts to wind down in early June (eight to ten weeks hence) and is possibly over by July 1st or certainly by August 1st. Please. I’ve already paid for my Telluride lodgings. What a nightmare.
Two weeks ago I asked my doctor about a prescription for hydroxycholoroquine, and his response was basically “forget it, doesn’t seem legit, no evidence that it actually works” and so on. It became a rightwing topic after Trump mentioned it. I had therefore written it off. The hype over the decades-old malaria drug seemed sketchy, dubious.
Now comes a 4.1 N.Y. Times story by Denise Grady saying that hydroxychloroquine “helped to speed the recovery of a small number of patients who were mildly ill from the coronavirus, doctors in China reported this week.
“Cough, fever and pneumonia went away faster, and the disease seemed less likely to turn severe in people who received hydroxychloroquine than in a comparison group not given the drug. The authors of the report said that the medication was promising, but that more research was needed to clarify how it might work in treating coronavirus disease and to determine the best way to use it.
“’It’s going to send a ripple of excitement out through the treating community,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.
“The study was small and limited to patients who were mildly or moderately ill, not severe cases. Like many reports about the coronavirus, it was posted at medRxiv, an online server for medical articles, before undergoing peer review by other researchers.
“But the findings strongly support earlier studies suggesting a role for the drug, Dr. Schaffner said.”
There was also a “small French study of 42 patients that seemed to show that hydroxychloroquine, particularly when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, helped decrease patients’ levels of coronavirus.” — posted on 3.27.20.
Jordan Ruimy: “Hydroxychloroquine saved my friend’s father’s life. Just because Trump approves of it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. We can’t play politics at a time like this. You should go to another doctor.”
Seven or eight days ago I finally saw Roman Polanski‘s J’Accuse (aka An Officer and a Spy). I called it drop-dead masterful in a 3.25 post — easily the best film of 2020 and certainly among the best I’ve seen since the launch of last fall’s award season.
For the last week or so I’ve been helping friends see it with a link to a torrent site, which happens to be a pain in the ass as far as seeing a French-language version with English subtitles is concerned.
What a shame that there isn’t some way of streaming such a version legally. We all know J’Accuse will never play or stream via a U.S. distributor due to objections from the #MeToo community, but perhaps an English subtitled J’Accuse will be streamable when a British or Canadian distributor makes it so available.
Since last fall the Paris-based sales company Playtime has been handling distribution for Polanski’s film. I’ve been speaking with a Playtime rep since last October about how or when the film might be purchasable by or streamable to U.S. viewers. For nearly six months the response has been “we don’t know yet” and phrases to that effect.
The usual pattern for a film that opened in Europe last fall would allow for subtitled viewing stateside via some kind of Bluray or streaming access by March or April.
Email #1: A couple of days ago I wrote the Playtime guy for the third or fourth time: “When will a J’Accuse Bluray w/ English subtitles be released? Or at least a streaming version? You guys must have a plan.” Platime response: “No plans in this direction.”
HE response: “You guys aren’t interested in tapping the English-speaking U.S., British and Canadian streaming market because of fears of the French #MeToo community? You’re afraid of what Adele Haenel might say…is that it? One of Polanski’s best films ever and no one in the int’l distribution community is planning to even stream an English-subtitled version?
“What about licensing an English-language subtitled version to some outside-the-normal-channels distributor for streaming? Or rights for a Bluray with English subtitles?
“If I’m misunderstanding the situation, please explain. Please forgive me but this seems so wrong.”
Email #2: Seven years ago I became aware of what may be a legit email address for Polanski, so I wrote him this morning to ask whassup.
“I finally saw J’Accuse a week or so ago via an illegal source. It’s a brilliant film, and it’s such a tragedy that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that access to a streaming version w/English subtitles (or a Bluray with same) isn’t being implemented or at least planned.
“Unless I’m mistaken. Am I?
“Is anyone anywhere planning to offer an English-subtitled version to international audiences? It just seems criminal not to allow Americans and other English-speaking audiences to see this exquisite film.
“Respectfully, Jeffrey Wells, HE — BTW, have you had a chance to read Sam Wasson’s Chinatown book?”
The embargo on Jerry Lewis‘s The Day The Clown Cried (’72) won’t lift until June 2024, but don’t let that spoil your amusement. Why, incidentally, would Criterion use a monochrome image of Lewis for the Bluray jacket cover? The guy who created this couldn’t find any decent color images? Kinda lazy-ass, no?