“This raucous, low-down commentary on Hollywood filmmaking, war movies, narcissistic actors and the thin line between make-believe and reality is the most giddily entertaining, wickedly smart and cinematically satisfying comedy in a season overloaded with yuk-’em-ups. If there’s any justice, Tropic Thunder should be the breakthrough moment for Stiller as a director.” — from David Ansen‘s review/interview piece (dated 8.2) in Newsweek.
Having seen Tropic Thunder (twice), Michael Cieply‘s statement in an 8.2 N.Y. Times article that Paramount executives are facing “the delicate task of selling what may be the raunchiest comedy yet in a summer that has seen more than its share” seems bizarre. The film isn’t raunchy at all; it’s merely extreme. And that’s an appropriate tone given (a) the necessity of any comedy to push the envelope to at least some degree, and (b) the extremities (emotional, psychedelic, whatever) that are expected from any film dealing with the Vietnam war.
The scene in which director-cowriter-star Ben Stiller “slurps gore from a human head” is, no lie, fairly funny. Ditto Robert Downey Jr. wearing blackface throughout (although the humor is in Downey’s vocal attempts to sound “black”). And the extended gag about “Hollywood’s weakness for what they impolitely call retards,” as Ceiply puts it, is about the rules that actors and Hollywood directors have followed in portraying characters with disabilities.
How are the Thunder guys supposed to refer to these characters? As mentally or emotionally “challenged”? As “handicapped”? The word “retard” is funny; the others are not.
This Valkyrie website promo reel is fine and so is Bill Nighy‘s statement to MTV.com that Bryan Singer‘s film is “honest and serious” and rarin’ to go on the next Valentine’s Day (“Take your date to see a movie about killing Hitler!”). But if you ask me…okay, nobody’s likely to ask me anything but if they did I’d say newly arrived MGM/UA marketing chief Mike Vohlman needs to do two things to keep the fire going over the next six and a half months.
One, he needs to release more Valkyrie stills to the various sites as I’ve been looking at the same three Valkyrie photos for I-don’t-know-how-many-months. And two, he needs to start showing Valkyrie to some friendly columnists and top-tier critics sometime in the mid fall with the understanding that if they like it, it might be cool to post an early review (or two or three) in late November or early December.
A Boston-residing friend of Jett’s was watching a replay of Fox & Friends around 9:30 this morning and saw a segment in which they got into the Jon Voight thing and in so doing mentioned yours truly two or three times.
If anyone happened to TIVO this segment, perhaps they could capture and post in You Tube and send along the URL? Something along these lines?
Listen to Voight, by the way, tell the Fox & Friends guys that “two and half million people were slaughtered in Cambodia and Vietnam” as a result of U.S. troops pulling out of Vietnam.
Uhhm, wrong. To my knowledge there was no massive slaughter in South Vietnam at all at the hands of the North Vietnamese after the takeover in ’75. The slaughter that did occur — approximately 1.5 million to 2 million people in Cambodia — happened at the hands of the Khymer Rouge, the paramilitary communist force that ruled Cambodia from ’75 to ’79 under the leadership of Pol Pot. It’s been argued, however, that U.S. bombing of Cambodia strengthened the hand of the Khmer Rouge. Voight’s claim that our abandoning Vietnam in ’75 led to two and half million deaths is therefore, due respect, an ignorant understanding.
“The relation between the massive carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States and the growth of the Khmer Rouge, in terms of recruitment and popular support, has been a matter of interest to historians,” says Wikipedia’s Khmer Rouge page. “In 1984 Craig Etcheson of the Documentation Center of Cambodia argued that it is ‘untenable’ to assert that the Khmer Rouge would not have won but for U.S. intervention and that while the bombing did help Khmer Rouge recruitment, they ‘would have won anyway.’ 
“However, more recently historians have cited the U.S. intervention and bombing campaign (spanning 1965-1973) as a significant factor leading to increased support of the Khmer Rouge among the Cambodian peasantry. Historian Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen have used a combination of sophisticated satellite mapping, recently unclassified data about the extent of bombing activities, and peasant testimony, to argue that there was a strong correlation between villages targeted by U.S. bombing and recruitment of peasants by the Khmer Rouge.
“Kiernan and Owen argue that ‘civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began.”  In his 1996 study of Pol Pot’s rise to power, Kiernan argued that ‘Pol Pot’s revolution would not have won power without U.S. economic and military destabilization of Cambodia’ and that the U.S. carpet bombing ‘was probably the most significant factor in Pol Pot’s rise.’ 
In a 8.1 piece called “Gold Derby Meets Roller Derby,” Awards Daily‘s Ryan Adams slammed The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil for his diva-behavior piece on Frozen River‘s Melissa Leo. It ran 260 words. This morning (8.2) O’Neil responded with a shoot-back (“Awards Daily makes an assassination attempt on Gold Derby! Is This War?”) and a windy defense of himself and his professional rep. It ran about 2000 words.
A very funny visit to Comic-Con by Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog on a recent Conan O’Brien episode. It”s always a very special thing to suffer Triumph’s slings and arrows. Whoever writes his stuff is very good. Quote #1: “It’s truly a golden era for these unbathed, overweight and friendless trend setters….perhaps one day they will conquer basic hygiene!” Quote #2: “I’m talking to the king of internet predators….he has not one but two eight year old boys hidden in there!”
I’m not convinced that Obama’s adjustment on his offshore drilling position is a mistake. Maybe, maybe not. I know it’s simply an adjustment to a prevailing view that an announced U.S. intention to drill the continental shelf for fresh oil may spur a reduction inf foreign-oil prices, and that politicians (a group of operators that — hello? — Obama belongs to) sometimes come to these realizations for the sake of realpolitik. Either way McCain can’t zap Obama for flip-flopping because he did the same thing in June.
An NPR report from late June reminds that McCain “this week called for an end to the federal ban on offshore drilling. The Arizona senator wasn’t flip-flopping, says senior campaign adviser Charlie Black, [but] acknowledging the ‘great crisis in energy’ facing the country.
“Just a month ago, when McCain was asked about offshore drilling during a campaign stop in Wisconsin, the presumptive Republican nominee noted that such resources would take years to develop, and that the U.S. should instead focus on alternative energy sources. Black says McCain’s new stance represents weeks of talks with policy advisers on how to bring energy security and energy independence to the U.S.
“‘So it’s not a change in his position as much as a new challenge to America,’ Black says.”
“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama told the Palm Beach Post‘s Michael C. Bender. “If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”
Today’s main-title mp3s include (a) one with a central theme that sounds vaguely Little House on the Prairie-ish, although the film unfolds on a much darker and deeper plane, (b) a melodic passage dominated by a French-horn that vaguely belies the urban setting of the film, and (c) a quiet but thrilling orchestral introduction to a ’60s period film.
A coffee-table book called Translating Hollywood: The World of Movie Posters was profiled yesterday by Boston Pheonix writer Chris Wangler. The poster images came from the collection of gallery owner Sam Sarowitz.
This Japanese-created, Roy Lichtenstein-ish Get Carter poster is far, far better than the one used for general U.S. release.
“Most of the posters come from the late 1950s and after, ” Wangler writes. “Hollywood classics are the focus, but there’ss a nice selection of French New Wave, world cinema classics, and genre pictures.
“As movies began to gain worldwide attention, Hollywood studios tailored their marketing to specific geographic locations, allowing local distributors to create their own publicity campaigns. As a result, writes New York Times DVD critic Dave Kehr in the introduction, films ‘were dressed up in native costumes for the different countries they happened to be visiting.'”
Verbatim quotes from two e-mails received this morning from right-wing patriots over the Jon Voight thing (with all original spellings left uncorrected): (a) “I just heard about your calls to blacklist Conservative actors and think you are a piece of shit“; and (b) “Congratulations, Mr. Wells, on your disgusting and vile comments on Jon Voit. You are clearly proof that the Left is still representative of Orwell’s Thought Police. You discredit and mock Mr. Voit for merely speaking his mind. How dare you try to silence the word of good Americans. I ardently believe that you are true scum of the earth and a waste of life. Good day.”
Comment for second arch-conservative: you should either use the term (a) “a waste of a life” or (b) “a waste of skin.”
Rorschach, the New York-residing, vigilante-minded renegade who is one of the Watchmen (and who is being played by Jackie Earl Haley in the ’09 Warner Bros. film), is quoted as follows on a new WB poster: “I wish all the scum of the earth had one throat, and I had my hands about it.” A furious loner, you bet, and yet he is not alone. In the Year of Our Lord 1976 Rorschach has a spiritual brother wandering the same fetid New York Streets — a little more than kin, a little less than kind.
Travis Bickle, the New York-residing, vigilante-minded taxi driver whose life peaked in ’76 when be blew away some bad guys in a Lower East Side tenement, is famed for having said that “someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
Rorschach and Bickle were born in 1940.
During the day, Rorschach walks around New York as a vagrant with a sign reading “the end is nigh.” During the night Bickle drives around the city, gaping at the perverts on the streets and consumed with disgust.
Politically, Rorschach is “an anti-communist, anti-liberal, reactionary, and strong nationalist,” per Wikipedia. He’s also been described as an “extremely right-wing character” by Watchmen author Alan Moore. Bickle supports the liberal Sen. Palatine but not really — he’s actually a radical conservative purist looking to bring the wrath of God down upon the Philistines.
Rorschach and Bickle are truly one spirit, one cockroach, one karate-chopping hand. If only they’d gotten together for a coffee one evening at the Belmore cafeteria to talk about Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and CBGBs and Patti Smith and all the movies playing at all the New York repertory cinemas back then…gone now but what a time