The Clintons are acting like their old fiendish selves again. Damn those two to hell, and I don’t really mean “their people” — I mean them. If Democratic politics was the mafia, Obama operatives would be drawing straws as to who gets to work things out with the hit man.
Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet calls this international trailer for Steven Soderbergh‘s Che: El Argentino a “high quality” thing…really? It looks muddy to me. It doesn’t even look decent. What’s the deal with the materials on this film, Wild Bunch? Trying to shave costs?Please take notice of the train-going-off-the-track shot. It’s a quick one, but it’s not CGI — it’s a real, full-sized train really going off the rails. I asked Soderbergh at the Che press conference in Cannes if this is the first train-wipeout shot using verite footage since John Frankenheimer‘s The Train (’64). Whatever the truth, he didn’t want to get into it. He went “no, no, no, no…I don’t know.”
The Toronto Film Festival starts a week from Thursday — 11 days from now. This morning I took my first stab at coming up with a short list. 40 films, I mean, which I’d like to see and write about these over a nine-day period. But I’ll probably only see two thirds. The truth is that I usually see about 25 TIFF films over nine days, 30 if I really push it.
I probably won’t be re-viewing anything I’ve already seen here (or intend to see here before 9.2), or anything I saw last May in Cannes — Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Three Monkeys, Rod Lurie‘s Nothing But The Truth, Bill Maher and Larry Charles‘ Religulous, Jonathan Demme‘s Rachel Getting Married, Mike Leigh‘s Happy Go Lucky, Gavin O’Connor‘s Pride and Glory, etc. And I’ve obviously marked off dozens of films that just don’t seem or sound good enough.
In no particular order, my priorities are as follows: (1) Neil Burger‘s Lucky Ones, (2) Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Burn After Reading, (3) Daniel Burman‘s Empty Nest, (4) David Koepp‘s Ghost Town, (4) Ed Harris ‘s Appaloosa, (5) Guillermo Arriaga‘s The Burning Plain, (6) Steven Soderbergh‘s Che (yes, again — in part because it’s 14 or 15 minutes shorter than the Cannes version), (7) Stephan Elliott‘s Easy Virtue, (8) Barbet Schroeder‘s Inju, (9) Spike Lee‘s Miracle at St. Anna, and (10) Guy Ritchie‘s Rocknrolla.
And then comes (11) Darren Aronofsky‘s Wrestler, (12) Kevin Smith‘s Zack and Miri Make a Porno, (13) Kari Skogland‘s Fifty Dead Men Walking, (14) Michael McGowan‘s One Week, (15) Richard Eyre‘s The Other Man, (16) Jean-Francois Richet‘s Public Enemy Number One, (17) Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s Secret Life of Bees, (18) Ari Folman‘s Waltz With Bashir, (19) Phillipe Claudet‘s I’ve Loved You So Long, and (20) Laurent Cantet‘s Entre Les Murs.
The next ten are (21) Rian Johnson‘s Brothers Bloom, (22) Matteo Garrone‘s Gomorra, (23) James Stern and Adam Del Deo‘s Every Little Step, (24) Kathryn Bigelow‘s Hurt Locker, (25) Bruno Barreto‘s Last Stop 174, (26) Stephen Belber‘s Management, (27) Richard Linklater‘s Me and Orson Welles, (28) Peter Sollett‘s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, (29) Danny Boyle‘s Slumdog Millionaire, and (30) Matt Tyrnauer‘s Valentino.
The final group is made up of (31) Max Farberbock‘s Woman in Berlin, (32) Jerzy Skolimowski‘s Four Nights with Anna (which I missed in Cannes), (33) Olivier Assayas‘ Heure de Ete, (34) Nigel Cole‘s $5 A Day, (35) Anthony Fabian‘s Skin, (36) Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige‘s I Want To See, (37) Scott McHehee and David Siegel‘s Uncertainty, (38) Cyrus Nowratesh‘s Stoning of Soraya M., (39) Brian Goodman‘s What Doesn’t Kill You and (40) Kevin Rafferty‘s Harvard Beats Yale….even if it played at Manhattan’s Film Forum last fall.
Anything I should add or subtract or make extra sure that I see? Open to all suggestions, warnings, kills.
Four days old, pre-Biden decision, still nutritious: “I lke Obama better because he’s younger, cooler, smarter. The Democrats never do anything bold once they get the nomination. I’m still for Obama, but I have to tell you — he’s trying my patience. I thought he was going to be different. He didn’t have that ‘I’m going to blow it’ look on his face. But he’s doing the same thing as Kerry and Gore…to be sort of the lighter version of the Republican candidate.”
This segment is good also.
I’ll never forget standing on West 45th Street in January 1983 and eyeballing the almost side-by-side marquees for the Booth and the Plymouth (now the Gerald Schoenfeld theatre), and laughing quietly to myself about C.P. Taylor‘s Good being at the Booth and David Hare‘s Plenty playing at the Plymouth. And you know what? There are no online photos of this, probably the dopiest Broadway marquee juxtaposition in history.
In any event, Plenty re-appeared three years later as a Meryl Streep movie directed by Fred Schepisi. (My favorite line: “He proposed to me in a moment of weakness. Mine, I mean.”) And yet it’s taken Good 25 years to be made into a film.
The Good movie, directed by the Brazilian-born Vicente Amorim (who’s rumored to be loosely related to Duchess director Saul Dibb), will show at the Toronto Film Festival. Viggo Mortensen plays Halder alongside Jason Isaacs, Mark Strong, Steven Mackintosh and Gemma Jones in the flick.
Written in ’81, Good is regarded as Taylor‘s most successful play. It’s about Halder, a thoughtful German professor whose wimpishness and gradual corruption leads to his involvement with National Socialsm in the 1930s. The point of the play is that Halder sees himself as a reasonable good guy even as he succumbs more and more to the swatztika. Are there are parallels in the current American political arena? Naaah.
Two days ago Times Online guy Matthew Syed posted the most unusual and amusing article I’ve read anywhere about the Beijing Olympics, called “Sex and the Olympic City.” It’s actually a kind of a history piece — an acknowledgement of the “furnace of sexual energy” that Olympic athletes have revelled in for decades, and perhaps (who knows?) centuries.
“Why do sportsmen and women have such explosive libidos?,” he asks. “I am not implying, for one moment, that every athlete in Beijing is at it. Just that 99 per cent of them are.” Would the TV guys ever touch this subject with a 20-foot pole? Would MSNBC’s bubbly right-wing Olympics anchorperson Tamron Hall even joke about it?
“It is worth noting an intriguing dichotomy between the sexes in respect of all this coupling,” Syed writes. “The chaps who win gold medals — even those as geeky as Michael Phelps — are the principal objects of desire for many female athletes. There is something about sporting success that makes a certain type of woman go crazy — smiling, flirting and sometimes even grabbing at the chaps who have done the business in the pool or on the track. An Olympic gold medal is not merely a route to fame and fortune; it is also a surefire ticket to writhe.”
I was kind of reminiscing just now about a visit to the northern Italian set of Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone‘s Cliffhanger, for a N.Y. Times profile called “Can Stallone Get A Grip?”. I’d just come from the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. The crew was shooting at a very high elevation location in the scenic Dolomite mountains, which surround Cortina d’Ampezzo, a serene little skiing village that hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics and was also visited by For Your Eyes Only, the Roger Moore 007 film that came out in ’81.
On or about 5.20.92 in the Italian Dolomites, about 90 minutes north of Venice — a little below 30 degrees, elevation of 11,000 feet, maybe a bit less.
I visited Cortina again about eight years ago, and was very dismayed to learn the town had gone to to hell due to its popularity with the wrong kind of American tourists — i.e., bearish middle-aged couples from Texas and Kansas and Oklahoma who spoke too loudly in mixed company, wore repulsively-designed ski sweaters and seemed to enjoy dancing to awful-sounding Euro disco in the hotel lounges. I was sitting in a bar listening to this 60-ish bearded guy with a Houston accent talking about how “we really loved goin’ to the Loove…the wife went back on her own the second day, all by her lonesome.” That’s it, I said to myself — I’m never coming back here.
An hour ago I taxied over to the shop of a freelance mechanic named Dennis to pick up my motorcycle, which had suffered minor damage (shattered plexiglass, smashed turn signal) after a small parking-space accident happened a few days ago. Within seconds of leaving his place (about a block east of Fairfax) I could feel something wrong. The bike had no power due to some kind brake-lock problem with the front tire, which kept me from getting up to any speed. Imagine driving a car with your foot tromped on the brake and the emergency brake on — it was like that.
Corner of Fairfax and Melrose, looking west.
I called Dennis as I was putting some air in the front tire (at a gas station at the corner of Fairfax and Melrose) and said, “Something’s really wrong, man…the brake is locking the front wheel or something.” He told me to bring it right back, so I pulled into Fairfax traffic heading north, but the bike would barely move. And then like a shot and right in the midst of a cluster of cars, the front wheel totally froze and the BMW and I both crashed onto the pavement, the bike sitting on my left leg and pinning me to the ground for a few seconds. No real damage to speak of — a bloody left elbow and a scraped left knee plus my nice black dress pants torn in two places.
The cars behind me stopped in time, thank God (nobody was going too fast), and two guys got out and helped me pick the sucker up. I feel fine — just bruised and cut. A slight ache in my rib cage on my left side, but nothing much. The body goes into mild shock when you have a sudden trauma like this, so I’ll probably feel some more minor bruise pain and muscle ache when everything settles down. This only happened 40 minutes ago. Dennis couldn’t figure what had happened, but he obviously screwed up big-time while doing the body work. He had planned to drive out to Lancaster to visit his wife in a rehab facility, so I told him to stay with that plan and we’ll talk tomorrow. His friend (i.e., his wife’s brother) drove me home.
I feel fine about being a motorcycle guy because I didn’t get hit by anyone or make any mistakes — the damn thing just froze up on me.
Update: The PDF file with an error concerning Steven Soderbergh‘s Che isn’t from the Toronto Film Festival crew. It was put together by a dedicated Toronto film buff named Greg Cruse, who runs a fan site called TOfilmfest.ca. The guy “deserves a lot of credit,” I’m told, “for sifting through all the festival info and putting it together in various bundles and for allowing it to be circulated for free.”
The previous version of this post noted that “the titles and corresponding storylines of Steven Soderbergh‘s The Argentine and Guerilla, which together form his epic-length Che, have apparently been switched in a PDF super-file of all the Toronto Film Festival movies.
“Peter Buchman‘s script of The Argentine and the Part 1 film that showed in Cannes is/was about the successful Cuban revolution of ’56 through late ’58. The script of Guerilla, which corresponds the Part 2 of Che shown in Cannes, is/was about the 1966 and ’67 Bolivian insurrection that ended in failure and Guevara’s death. But the Toronto PDF file says that Guerilla is about Cuba and The Argentine is about Bolivia.”
Watching these John McCain spots produces feelings of slap-shock, numbness, amazement. The irony is that the comical pandering will probably connect with some of the older PUMA types out there, no matter what Hillary Clinton says at the Denver podium (which we all suspect will be one thing verbally and quite another thing in terms of delivery and passion). “She won millions of votes but isn’t on his ticket. Why? For speaking the truth. On his plans. On the Rezko scandal. On his attacks. The truth hurt and Obama didn’t like it.”
The Movie Gods are more or less pleased that Tropic Thunder beat out House Bunny this weekend, if only by a meager million bucks. Ben Stiller‘s Hollywood-actor satire made $16.1 million on its second weekend (for a cume of $65.7 million) compared to Bunny‘s $15.1 million. Then again, Bunny did what it did on 2714 screens compared to Thunder being on 3352 screens.
Another issue that critics will be sternly questioned about when they arrive at the pearly gates — did you ever write a buoyant article-review that reflected positively on a film that you knew in your heart of hearts was absolute plastic trash because you fell in love with the lead performance?
It’s part of the fate of film critics to face a special, sometimes brutal judgment at the gates of St. Peter when they die. Did they diss, ignore or under-value a film they knew was honorable in an exceptional, raising-the-bar sort of way — a movie that unquestionably enhanced the lore of movies as providers of bracing reality baths and deliverers of spiritual revelation — because it didn’t provide familiar comfort in the form of reassuring “movie moments”?
Those critics who are found guilty will be denied entrance to heaven and sent back to earth to try again. Call me an Old Testament sort of guy if you want, but I believe that every critic or blogger-columnist who dismissed Steven Soderbergh‘s Che at Cannes last May because it was too long and wasn’t reassuring enough in terms of conventional drama and emotional whatevs will, I humbly submit, face such a judgment. They will, however, be given a chance to redeem themselves in Toronto. Knowing of the human capacity for frailty and missing the boat, God has decided to cut them some slack.