Can you imagine being dead for 48 years, just floating around in some airy-fairy, non-material way, when a bulletin from earth suddenly punctuates your cosmic head-space? The news being that a guy named David Bret has nailed you in a book for having had halitosis, hepatitis, rotting teeth and “shovel-like” hands? I don’t know that these and similar revelations concerning Clark Gable‘s life are things that I need to know. I can deal with his halitosis (read about it years ago) but that’s as far as I’d like to go, thanks.
Nourishing, semi-leisurely Sunday activity is a good thing. Tomorrow, if you live in Los Angeles, satisfaction on that level could and perhaps should include (a) Word Theatre’s 11 a.m. event at the Venice Canal Club (brunch plus readings about sex and death) with Tess Harper, Rae Dawn Chong, Gary Dourdan, Sarah Maclay, etc., and (b) a 5:30 pm screening of Sydney Pollack‘s The Yakuza (1974, w/ Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith, Richard Jordan) at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre.
Honoring the recently-departed Richard Widmark‘s performances, N.Y. Times DVD columnist Dave Kehr shows a little more passion and vigor that he usually does within the boundaries of his tweedly-deedly prose style. Here‘s a graph about Widmark’s work in Jules Dassin‘s Night in the City (1950):
“It’s hard to imagine another tough-guy actor of the period allowing himself to come as close to tearful impotence as Widmark does, at the moment his character realizes that there is no escape from the vengeful associates he has betrayed. Running toward the camera, as well as toward his death, Mr. Widmark allows his face to go slack and his limbs to loosen; he seems to become a panicked child before our eyes, shrinking into infantile helplessness.
“A jump cut might take us to the opening scene of Rebel Without a Cause, when James Dean‘s drunken teenager collapses on the sidewalk, playing with a toy monkey.”
I’ll post a thought or two about Stanley Weiser‘s W, formerly known as Bush, on Monday. I couldn’t get my hands on a recently revised draft, but if the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting next month is at all similar to what’s on the page, W won’t be any kind of breathtaking, guns-blazing, political-zing movie. It’s primarily a modest, brick-by-brick character study about who George W. Bush really is deep down. We tend to bring a certain level of expectation to Stone’s films. We’ve been conditioned a certain audacious, holy-shit element, but sometimes a movie simply is what it is. W, which might be shot, cut and released in near-record time (i.e., before the end of the year), may be seen as more performance-driven than anything else.
John Edwards is the essence of petty equivocation. He’s a phony. Obama didn’t provide the right kind of oral pleasuring so he didn’t endorse him, this 3.28 John Heilemann New York article reports. He’s a slinky performance artist who likes power and money, y’all. The mere sound of that awful buttery drawl gives me the willies. He’s selling vacuum cleaners.
“I realize this will sound geeky, but for me a good character match for Hillary Clinton is the old Star Trek character of Dr. Janice Lester, played in the original late ’60s series by Sandra Smith. All it takes is her breakdown scene at the finale when she sobs, ‘I’ll never be the Captain!’ If you haven’t seen it or don’t recall, I’m sure plot capsules abound on the net.” — HE reader ChuckW, writing this morning.
A reliable-seeming online synopsis of episode #79 (original airdate: 6.3.69) states that Dr. Lester, “once involved with Captain Kirk, harbors a deep hatred of the captain, because she, herself, has never been able to captain a starship.”
The best Hillary/Obama analogy so far has come from HE reader Nate West, to wit: “Hillary is Orson Welles‘ Hank Quinlan character in Touch of Evil. Obama is [Charlton Heston‘s] Vargas.”
I’ve been told that producer Jean Doumanian is partnering with the Weinstein Co. to produce a film version of Tracy Letts‘ masterful August: Osage County, which N.Y. Times critic Charles Isherwood called “the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years” in his 12.5.07 review.
Deanna Dunagan (r.) as Violet Weston, the family matriarch; Amy Morton (l.) as her daughter, and Rondi Reed (center) as Violet’s sister.
As always, a Broadway hit (Osage County is certain to triumph at the ’08 Tony Awards in June) is one equation and a satisfying hit movie is another. The stage-to-cinema process is always about rethinking, reshuffling, compressing, diluting and, in one way or another, downgrading to some extent. A broader audience = the need to make a play more accessible to Average Joes = problems from the viewpoint of Broadway purists.
The big questions are (a) will the movie version hold to the play’s three-hour length (there will certainly be pressure to trim it down at least somewhat, perhaps as much as a third), (b) will they try to movie-ize it (visually “open it up, etc.) or stick to the pure theatrical scheme of everything happening in the Weston family’s two-story home, (c) who will Doumanian-Weinstein get to direct…Mike Nichols?, and (d) which middle-aged screen actress will play the key role of Violet Weston (i.e., “an evil mom to end them all”), presuming that Deanna Dunagan, whose on-stage performance is said to be legendary, will be shunted aside in favor of a Meryl Streep-level actress with a bit more in the way of marquee power.
21 will crest $25 million by Sunday night — the exact rival-studio estimate is $25.7 million — after earning $8.6 million yesterday. Dr. Horton Hears a Who will come in second with $19.9 million, give or take. The Weinstein Co.’s Superhero Movie is disappointing with a distant third-place showing with a projected weekend tally of $9.4 million. Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns will be fourth with about $8 million, and Drillbit Taylor will be fifth with $5.9 million.
Shutter will come in sixth with about $4.8. Poor Stop-Loss — the finest new film of the weekend, and second only to In The Valley of Elah in the Iraq-War arena — will do about $4.7 million (averaging $3300 to $3400 a print). 10,000 BC will be eighth with $3.9 million, followed by College Road Trip ($2.7 million), The Bank Job ($2.6 million) and Never Look Back ($2.25 million). David Schwimmer‘s Run Fat Boy Run will do about $2 million.
These are the late-winter dog days.