Imagine all the Times Square passersby who looked up at this huge, block-long billboard in December of 1958 and said, “Wow…that looks like something I should definitely see.” Right now it’s a struggle to find anyone who recalls even seeing this film, or who remembers it with any particular fondness if they have. If you ask me this billboard photo (posted by flashbak.com) is cooler than the film, which I was somehow motivated to write about on 2.23.18.
Why in the world would Martin Scorsese want to make another Jesus film? 35 years ago he delivered his magnum opus with The Last Temptation of Christ…he did it, nailed it, nothing left to prove. Especially with Terrence Malick‘s The Way of the Wind, a parable-driven Jesus flick he’s been editing for somewhere between four and five years, possibly debuting later this year. On top of which belief in Christian dogma has been plummeting for decades, and especially this century.
At a Berlinale press conference earlier today Scorsese said he’s still “contemplating” the approach to his Jesus film.
“What kind of film I’m not quite sure, but I want to make something unique and different that could be thought-provoking and I hope also entertaining. I’m not quite sure yet how to go about it. But once we finish our rounds here of promoting [Killers of the Flower Moon], maybe I’ll get some sleep and then wake up and I’ll have this fresh idea on how to do it.”
HE suggestion: Forget the Nazarene and do another gangster flick, only faster-moving this time. Faster and less contemplative and no old guys. As John Ford was to the western, Martin Scorsese is to northeastern-region goombah crime flicks.
The 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey, released a couple of days ago, has decided that the lowest-ranked U.S. presidents, ranking #40 to #45, are Warren G. Harding (Teapot Dome, tempestuous sexual appetite), William Henry Harrison (died 31 days after inauguration), Franklin Pierce (racially antagonistic, divisive), Andrew Johnson (Lincoln’s successor), James Buchanan and, at the very bottom of the list, Donald Trump.
The good guys (#1 through #10) are Lincoln, FDR, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Barack Obama, Dwight D. Eisenhower, LBJ and JFK.
Bill Clinton ranks 12th, Joe Biden is two notches below at 14th, Ronald Reagan is 16th, Dubya is 19th, Jimmy Carter is 22nd and Gerald Ford ranks 27th.
I don’t understand Eisenhower being in eighth place. He was a steady, unexciting, moderate-minded fellow who presided over a country absorbed in anxiety, paranoia, invaders, commie conspiracies…Elvis Presley, Debbie Reynolds, No Down Payment….a relatively timid chapter in our country’s history…”the bland leading the bland.”
All hail Jeffrey Wright! Good man, zen cat, excellent actor. His American Fiction performance was first-rate. Cord Jefferson’s drama received five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Wright. But we all understand that Wright was never in serious contention for that award (not really) and that Jefferson failed to land a Best Director nom. Obviously the film is admired but it hasn’t connected. If you ask me it’s because the excellence of the first 45 minutes isn’t sustained, and because it ends a bit weakly. I’m asking for assessments from the HE community.
Yesterday Sasha and I gave the weekly podcast a shot, and it didn’t work out. Sometimes the spirit is with you, and sometimes it isn’t. I’ll record something tonight on my own and post it tomorrow. Sasha and I will give it another try next weekend.
The issue, to be honest, was that some HE commenters said that Sasha was berating me. So we tried different ways to fix the problem (including adopting a nicey-nice “turn the other cheek” approach) but it wasn’t working. She’s frustrated with me and hates being the subject of the HE commentariat, and I feel inhibited talking to her. So we’re at an impasse.
Sasha thinks I should get a new partner but I think we have a good rapport at times. Does anyone want to volunteer to step into her place? Sasha would be overjoyed by this.
That wasn’t a serious question, of course. The vast majority of HE regulars are too chicken to do a podcast. I know this, they know this. Let’s cut the shit.
The universal response to Edward Dmytryk and John Fante‘s Walk on the Wild Side (Columbia, 2.21.62) was that the opening credit sequence (black cat prowling around in slow-mo, designed by Saul Bass) was better that the film itself.
I re-watched this sequence last night, and it occured to me that Elmer Bernstein‘s forceful, pounding music is what makes it work. The orchestra saws away with such brass and insistence that you’re quickly persuaded that the movie will be about much more than what’s suggested by the black cat slinking around.
And then you watch the movie and realize “oh, I get it…the cat was everything.”
Dry absurdist humor, yokel accents, hamfisted characterization, broad deadpan line-readings, heavy lesbian breathing and — this is the fatal stab — at least one “aaaaggghhhh!!” moment.
It seems clear that Drive-Away Dolls (Focus Features, 2.23) is Raising Arizona 2, and that means a very, very difficult time for Hollywood Elsewhere.
“Origins of the Aaaaggghhh!“, posted on 7.13.23:
I don’t know how many comedies or half-comedies have resorted to a certain overworked bit, but many dozens have done so.
I’m talking about two or three or four characters realizing that something awful or calamitous or mortifying has just happened, and their uniform response is to scream “aaaaagggghhhhhh!”
If I’ve seen this once I’ve seen it 80 or 90 times, maybe more. And I’ve never laughed, not once.
If a bearded wizard were to come up and say “if you want, I can erase every last ‘aaaagggghhhhhh!’ scene that’s ever been used” I would say “yes…please!”
Question: Four or five decades ago some director invented an “aaaaggggghhhhh!” scene. It must have gotten a huge laugh the first two or three times or people wouldn’t still be drawing from that well.
So what film was the first? Was Bob Clark the responsible party?
I got started on this because there are at least two “aaaggghhh!” moments in Barbie apparently, at least according to a couple of trailers I’ve seen.
After watching this, I now think less of Glenn Powell.
And I’m still holding to my general policy of dismissing any award-winner with a twangy yokel accent (like Lainey Wilson, say) who thanks “my Lord and savior Jesus Christ” for helping to make her success complete. Wilson’s speech immediately reminded of Ronee Blakley‘s “Barbara Jean” character in Robert Altman‘s Nashville (’75).
That said, Wilson’s black cowboy hat is much nicer than mine.
I’m therefore satisfied and becalmed that it’s more or less become an extinct term. Good riddance. Effective, pizazzy promotion is fine. I could just never tolerate that horrible word. In fact, any word that ends with “hoo” — Yahoo search engine, boo-hoo, Yoohoo chocolate drink, etc.
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »