Obviously not the same issue as the one that led to Edward R. Murrrow‘s historic broadcast against Senator Joseph L. McCarthy, and yet reminiscent of this. To paraphrase Paddy Chayefsky, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann was “positively clanking with moral fervor” here, and rightly so. His closing words: “Good night, and good luck.”
Werner Herzog‘s Encounters at the End of the World, a doc “about the daily lives of Antarcticans,” will be jointly distributed by ThinkFilm and Image Entertainment in partnership with Discovery Films. I’m so on top of things (i.e., frazzled, distracted) that I missed the first screenings at last September’s Toronto Film Festival.
The subjects are the Antarctic community of “McMurdo Station, on Ross Island, the headquarters for the National Science Foundation and home to 1100 people during the austral summer (October to February.) Beyond the settlement, he ventures through a science-fiction landscape, from the under-ice depths of the Ross Sea, to the brink of the Mount Erebus volcano,” according to Herzog’s website.
Encounters will open on June 11th.
If you were Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the 22 year-old whose hotel-room sessions with New York governor Eliot Spitzer led to his resignation earlier today, wouldn’t you want to get out of the prostitution racket by trading up on the publicity? It would be sad and sordid and icky, but don’t we all need to strike the iron when it’s hot?
If I was a talent manager and she came to me looking for help, I would pitch a reality show in which Ashley tries to change her life by submitting to an Eliza Doolittle-like makeover — a “pimp my ride” show for humans instead of cars. She’d attend cultivation classes, college philosophy courses, art classes, diction lessons, piano lessons, cooking classes in Florence, a fresh circle of friends…the whole schmeer. Everybody wants to change, upgrade, do better, reach higher. This would be a reality show about trying to literally save someone’s life. We all know what happens to most prostitutes, sooner or later.
The N.Y. Times has a story about her, and the Smoking Gun has a bunch of photos.
One problem that won’t go away. Her nose is too big. I always thought when you pay $5000 for two hours you should get a model off the runway in Milan or Paris. If the “Pimp My Life” show goes, throw in some plastic surgery.
The full-on Incredible Hulk trailer. Norton: “I’ve got problems…it’s a little more complicated than that.” And when he turns all Hulky, he sure isn’t green. Mostly a sandy brown with a slight greenish tint, or so it seems to me. God, do I hate that raaahhrrraaahhh! sound that post-production guys always use to convey the sound of terrible rage and energy coming from the mouth of some humungous life form.
A friend with access to huddlings in the Woody Allen camp says that in his next film (i.e., the one after Vicky Cristina Barcelona) Evan Rachel Wood will play Larry David‘s love interest. The untitled piece “is an old script that Woody wrote for himself but now he feels too old for it, so we’ll get the young sexpot Larry David,” I was told an hour ago.
Evan Rachel Wood
For what it’s worth I think the idea is kind of nervy-cool. Bizarre but why not? What with that blood-spattered Marilyn Manson sex video last year and this bizarre piece of news (which I believe is coming from a reliable place, whether or not it plans out), Wood is seeming more and more of an oddball in terms of her romantic whatevers.
My source has also seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona and says “it’s good. Not great but very good, and Penelope Cruz walks away with it. She is great in it and should wind up with an Oscar nomination. (I think.) VCB is funny and sweet and sad and way, way better then his last few movies, including Match Point.
“If [Woody] had spent just a little more time cutting it and being less lazy it could have been one of his great movies,” he claims. “Still it’s very good, and the sex scene [lesbian action between Scarlett Johansson and Rebeca Hall or Cuz or whomever] is really, really sexy. It’s so weird that Woody Allen did it.”
It’s strange that no one has commented so far about the obvious echo factors regarding Michael Bay‘s Platinum Pictures being in negotiations with Paramount Pictures to do a Rosemary’s Baby remake. For humor’s sake, at least.
Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby
Echo #1 is that we’ve got a trade story here about a man who’s been half- jokingly referred to by film writers, editors and film fans for years as a satanic figure, and now this guy is looking to make a movie about the birth of Satan’s spawn. You don’t think that’s funny?
Nobody actually believes that Bay is literally a man-devil with horns and hooves, but he’s certainly been seen for at least a decade as someone who’s come to represent demonic forces in the film industry, a soul-less heebie-jeebie craftsman who has done more than anyone else to bring about the death of genuine spirit and heart and coherency in narrative cinema, a sworn enemy of the beliefs and ghosts of Ernst Lubitsch, Robert Bresson, John Ford and Stanley Kubrick (among thousands of others) and the mortal foe in today’s world of alive-and-well guys like Florian von Heckel Donnersmarck.
Echo #2 is all flaky ephemera and silly supposition, but throw it all together you’ve got the kind of thing that would make you gulp if you heard it in The Omen. I’m not saying it’s remotely imaginable much less anything a sane person would consider, but let’s take the Michael Bay-is-the-devil idea and advance it a notch and suppose, just for fun, that Bay is actually the son of Satan.
He was born on 2.14.65, which was when Ira Levin was writing and researching his Rosemary’s Baby novel, which was published about two and a half years later, in mid 1967. So where did the idea for Levin’s book come from? Perhaps there were demonic vibrations in the air in the aftermath of Bay’s first wail and Levin, being a typically sensitive writer who perhaps knew a little something about the occult, picked up on this somehow? Maybe he knew someone who told him, “Something has happened, I know not what.”
Clearly the editors of Time magazine felt something in the air also because in April 1966, when Bay was only 14 months old, they published their famous “Is God Dead?” essay with that magazine cover that people still remember today. Roman Polanski, director of the original Rosemary’s Baby (’68), used this Time cover for an insert shot in his film.
I’m not saying any of this makes any sense, but once you accept the fictional notion of Bay’s demonic parentage it all starts to fall into place with an oddly creepy logic. Bay’s birth, Levin begins “Rosemary’s Baby,” Time wonders if God has died, the book is published, the movie is shot and released….all in fairly fast succession.
If you go by the logic of The Final Conflict (1981), the rise of Damien Thorn (Sam Neill) is fulfilled when be becomes an adult and begins to control the levers of power in decisive ways. Bay has obviously been doing that for some time in Hollywood circles, but now, the theory goes, he’s finally reached a point where he can tell (or help to tell if someone else directs) the story of his own birth. Yes, a stupid idea but on some primal level there’s a small part of me that believes all of it.
The scary thing is that Bay and his Platinum Pictures team will almost certainly screw this one up — overbaking it, removing all subtlety and sense of dread, making it for the downmarket crowd, etc. Just like they’re certain to do when they get around to remaking Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds.
Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet has posted two stills from Woody Allen‘s unfortunately titled Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Weinstein Co., 12.12.08) — one of costars Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall, another (below) of a femme fatale-ish Penelope Cruz.
Bardem, Hall; Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The oft-repeated synopsis: Vicky and Cristina (Hall and Scarlett Johansson), spending a summer in Spain, make the acquaintance of a flamboyant artist and compulsive hound (Bardem) and his beautiful but insane ex-wife (Cruz). Vicky is about to be married. They find themselves at emotional and sexual cross-purposes. Lezzie action reportedly occurs between two of the three women (reportedly Johansson and Hall, but you never know).
A very significant revolutionary concept has been pushed repeatedly in films produced, written or directed by movie-comedy maestro Judd Apatow over the last three or four years, and I’m not sure it’s been explained as throughly as it should be. The idea, admittedly old hat for anyone half-familiar with Apatow World, is that marginally unattractive guys — witty stoners, clever fatties, doughy-bodied dorks, thoughtful-sensitive dweebs and bearish oversize guys in their 20s and 30s — can be and in fact are the new “romantic leads” (for lack of a better or more appropriate term) in today’s comedies.
Jonah Hill, Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Question is, what if this starts to manifest in realms outside Apatow World? Young teenage girls will always have a thing for the Zac Efrons and young Leonardo DiCaprios, but what if Hollywood, looking to follow Apatow’s lead in reflecting the real-life shlumpiness of typical GenX and GenY guys, generally starts to divest itself of conventionally good-looking actors as far as the over-21 ranks are concerned? Has Apatow started something, or does he live (and create) in a world totally his own?
I got started on this after watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal, 4.18) last night. The star is the galumphy, heavy-bodied Jason Segel, and the first thing you seem him do is wiggle his breasts in front of a bathroom mirror. Not by shaking his torso, but in the same way people wiggle their nose or their ears.
I immediately went, “Oh, shit…I’m stuck with this dude for the whole film.” Segel is an obviously bright guy with moderately appealing features, but he also has a chunky, blemished ass and little white man-boobs, and he could definitely use a little treadmill and stairmaster time and a serious cutback program regarding pasta, Frito scoop chips, Ben & Jerry’s and Fatburger takeout. I don’t relate to this shit at all, I was muttering to myself.
I’m not referring to the film itself (which everyone around me seemed to have a pretty good time with). I’m talking about the simple exercise of relating to a lead character during the first 10 or 15 minutes of a film and saying to myself, “Yeah, that’s me to some extent…I’m sorta like that guy…I’ve been there,” etc. If you can’t do that, as I couldn’t last night, the movie isn’t going to work for you. Like, at all.
The success of Apatow’s comedies strongly suggests that most moviegoers don’t have this problem. They’re cool with schlumps getting the girl. Dramas are another matter, but in Apatow World, at least, moderately good-looking (or at least pleasant-featured) regular guys, neurotics or semi-smoothies who go to the gym every once in a while and maybe resemble the slightly fuller-bodied, not-quite-as-good-looking brothers of Matt Damon or Adrien Brody or Brad Pitt are totally out.
Taking their place are guys who look like real guys, which means almost never slender or buffed, and frequently chunky, overweight or obese. And usually with roundish faces with half-hearted beard growth, hair on their backs, man-boobs with tit hairs, blemishes, and always horribly dressed — open-collared plaid dress shirts, low-thread-count T-shirts with lame-ass slogans or promotions on the chest, long shorts and sandals (or flip-flops), monkey feet, unpedicured toenails.
Dustin Hoffman, Katherine Ross in The Graduate
For better or worse, smart schlumps are the Cary Grants, Fred McMurrays, William Powells and Clark Gables in this very particular and restricted realm.
We’ve seen this phenomenon in six Apatow fims over the last four years — Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (in which the semi-grotesque Will Ferrell seduces Christina Applegate), The 40 Year-Old Virgin (withdrawn, socially immobile Steve Carrell emerges from shell, falls in love with Catherine Keener), Knocked up (stoner-slacker Seth Rogen beds and gradually builds a serious relationship with Katherine Heigl), Superbad (the incorrigibly nerdy Christopher Mintz-Plasse gets lucky with a hottie, Jonah Hill finds the real thing with a nice girl in Act Three), Walk Hard (John C. Reilly-as-Johnny Cash, scoring and relationship-ing over a 40-year stretch with relative ease) and the upcoming Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Segel losing a hot-blonde girlfriend, hooking up with a beautiful brunette in the same class).
What’s happening here is more than just Apatow rewriting romantic movie mythology by selling variations of himself as sexually appealing. We’re talking about audiences totally buying into the notion that guys who look like this actually do attract hot women of good character, go to bed with them, fall in love and all the rest of it.
Ten years ago female moviegoers, I believe, would have totally rejected this. Twenty or thirty years ago mainstream audiences would have walked out of theatres in confusion (if not disgust) if guys who look like Rogen, Segel, Hill or Mintz-Plasse got the girl. If filmmakers had tried to push this concept in movies of the ’40s or ’50s the House Un-American Activites Committee would have held Congressional hearings. If films of this slant had been made in the 1920s or ’30s people would have seen them as tragedies or grotesque oddities in the vein of Todd Browning‘s Freaks.
When you think about it, the last time Hollywood said to the moviegoing public “hold on…guys who look like this can get the pretty girl and in fact do score in the real world” was 41 years ago, when the short, dweeby-Jewish Dustin Hoffman connected with Katherine Ross and bedded Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (’67).
Before that landmark Mike Nichols film male romantic leads had all been pretty much cut from the same three cloths — traditional standard-handsome smoothies a la Cary Grant or Rock Hudson or Clark Gable, good-looking troubled moodies like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift or Frank Sinatra, or all-American sunny-personality guys like James Stewart or Van Johnson. Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock was something very new — nice-looking but anxious, neurotic, not tall and of the Hebrew persuasion.
I don’t know where else to take this idea or how to end the article, even, so I’ll just kneecap it here and leave well enough alone. I only know that if I were a girl or gay and Jason Segel came up to me at a bar and tried to put the moves on, I would scrunch my face up and say, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.” — David Mamet in his 3.11 Village Voice essay, “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal.” Which means he’s evolved into what? A free-market libertarian…a right-leaning something-or-other? Whiffs of this have been in the air for a long while. Sooner or later the Mamet machismo element had to manifest in some kind of stated political posture.
Tonight’s Countdown with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann will be a watershed moment for Hillary Clinton…or is that “woodshed”? He’ll presumably be addressing the tone and character of her campaign (race cards, stating her allegiance/preference for McCain over Obama, deliberate distortions, kitchen sink, scorched earth) in one of his “Special Comments” monologues. Olbermann usually slams Bush administration abuses. For the first time in Countdown‘s history, his remarks will be directed exclusively at a Democrat.