Patrick Goldstein‘s Big Picture column got into the Gail Berman hoo-hah today (Monday, 2.21), and used a quote from that “Scent of Toast” piece that I ran a week ago Sunday, and he was nice enough to say that “it quickly became the talk of the town” when it came out. Two-thirds of it was an edited-down letter I got from a professional woman who has beefs about Berman, and a third was composed of quotes this woman gave me when we spoke on the morning of Sunday, 2.12. After talking for 40 minutes or so she struck me as an authentic player-combatant. (You develop a nose for this stuff.) She refused at first to even identify her profession, but later she copped to being an agent. Goldstein seems to be needling me a bit in his column for not getting her name, rank, social security number and fingerprints, but…aaah, forget it.
When I think back to Peter Jackson‘s far-reaching, underwhelming King Kong, which arrives on DVD next month, I think of the sad sequence atop the Empire State Building at the very end, with Kong’s eyes starting to dilate just before he bids his final farewell to Naomi Watts and then slips away, somehow managing a nice clean fall down to 33rd Street without crashing against the jutting-out sides of the building (like his great- grandfather inevitably did in the ’33 version). And that’s all that sticks, really. Portions of the running-around-on-Skull-Island stuff were exciting and amusing, but they’ve been steadly fading since I first saw it, and if you add this to the numbing effect of the first 70 minutes, widely acknowledged as talky and tedious, and you have a film that has not aged well…not at all. Although I still want to watch it one or two more times on DVD.
Josh Horowitz talks to director Whit Stillman (Barcelona, Metropolitan) about his disappearing act. Horowitz: “What about the ‘whatever happened to Whit Stillman?’ stuff that’s been written about you? Does it bother you? Stillman: “That doesn√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢√É‚Äû√É¬¥t bother me. What bothers me is that I haven’t done anything.” (laughter) Horowitz: “It is noteworthy, I think, to realize that Terrence Malick has released two films in the time since you released your last one.” Stillman: “That’s embarrassing.” (laughter)
Better late than never: N.Y. Times DVD guy Dave Kehr riffs on Lamont Johnson‘s The Last American Hero …a longish reflective lead piece and everything. Released in ’73, Hero was “the sort of midlevel movie that would soon disappear from Hollywood as American movies fragmented into big-budget event films (Mr. Bridges lent his presence to one, the 1976 remake of King Kong) and no-budget genre pictures. The uncondescending, eye-level view of the American South here seems perfectly pitched, its triumphalism muted (Jeff Bridges‘ Junior Jackson wins races but has a harder time with his lady love, played with sparkle by Valerie Perrine), and its scale neither overbearing nor overly restricted.”