Update, cave-in: In the heat of anger over the residue of rancid cigarette smoke that I discovered in my apartment when I returned last night from Toronto as well as typical jet-travel fatigue, I let slip with some analytical candor last night where concern and compassion were the only two things, according to common consensus, to express.
As Bill Maher discovered seven years ago, there are some situations in which you can’t be truthful because the viewers (or readers) simply won’t have it. I understand human nature; I get it. Obviously, drawing a corollary between the oil industry, global warming and the Hurricane Ike devastation in the Galveston area is a no-brainer. Any climatologist would note the same thing if he/she were among friends and felt the freedom to be honest. Anyone with a minimal understanding of the factors causing global warming would have quietly nodded if Al Gore had drawn this analogy, let’s say, on a radio talk show last night.
But I’m withdrawing the original post out of sensitivity for the poor battered Galvestonians (and out of concern for Joe Leydon, who has no power as we speak and has had to use dial-up to get online).
I needed somebody to feed and pet the cats while I was away in Toronto, so I arranged for a woman from Kentucky and her 17 year-old son (here visiting UCLA and other colleges) to stay here via Craig’s List. I had the apartment professionally cleaned before I left, and asked the woman (whom I trusted based on her nice friendly vibe over the phone plus her being from Kentucky, which is where my grandfather was born and raised) to please leave things as spic and span as she found them.
The place was indeed scrubbed clean and very tidy when I got home this evening, but it also reeked of cigarette smoke. I wrote her the following letter:
“You cleaned the place very thoroughly but –hello? — it smells like Brown and Williamson!
“I presume that the cigarette smoke is your son’s doing. Or perhaps yours as well. You seemed like a very considerate person on the phone, Cynthia, so I presume it wasn’t you who did the actual indoor smoking. But obviously you’re not that considerate or you wouldn’t have allowed cigarette smoke to putrify my apartment at all. You would have told your son, ‘If you want to smoke, stand outside the front door.’
“As far as I’m concerned, it was exactly like coming home to find a load of steaming crap lying in the middle of my Persian rug.
“Are you or your son faintly aware of the concept of smoke-free rooms in hotels and motels? Have you ever heard of the term ‘smoke-free rooms’? Do you have any idea why hotels have these classifications in place, and why some people say ‘I definitely want a smoke-free room’? Because cigarette smoke stinks, and most people (even smokers) find the idea of having to lie and sleep in rooms with the after-stink of cigarettes to be repulsive.
“And yet (a) you allowed your son to smoke at will in my apartment or (b) you smoked in my apartment, or (c) you both smoked in my apartment. One of these three clearly happened.
“Do you remember my saying to you when we first talked that I don’t trust 17 year-olds because I have two teenaged sons myself (18 and 20, actually) and I know what they’re like? And then you assured me that nothing dirty or damaging to the apartment would happen and that you’d keep the place spanking clean, etc.?
“I would rather you didn’t clean the place at all rather than leave this place reeking of cigarette smoke. All I can figure is that the culture you come from in Kentucky (where my grandfather was from) doesn’t think one way or the other about cigarette smoke and that everybody smokes so what does it mater?
“You’re costing me another $100 now (on top of the previous $100 I spent on house-cleaning before you came) because I’m going to have to bring my cleaning guy back in and do everything he can to eradicate the foul stink in this place.
“Proud of yourself? I am very, very sorry that I decided to let you stay here (even though you were good with the cats and cleaned up very nicely all around, especially in the kitchen and the bathroom). As far as I’m concerned you’re both Kentucky trash.”
On pages 362 and 363 in the new Vanity Fair (i.e., Marilyn Monroe on the cover), the W cast assembled on the Shreveport, Lousiana set of the Bush Oval Office — (l. to r.) Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell, Toby Jones as Karl Rove, Dennis Boutsikaris as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Josh Brolin as George W. Bush, Thandie Newton as Condeleeza Rice, Rob Corddry as Ari Fleischer, Bruce McGill as George Tenet and Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld.
Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny seems to understand and appreciate the Coen Bros.’ Burn After Reading as much as yours truly, if not more so. Consider: “In its incredibly goofy, nasty, and…smart-alecky way. Burn After Reading evokes a fallen world just as strongly as the Coen’s previous film, No Country For Old Men, did.”
George Clooney after dispatching intruder
Which is sorta kinda what I said last week, to wit: “It’s the genius of Burn After Reading, their latest, to offer another serving in a way that may seem slight or irksome to some, but it is in fact — I mean this — a major satirical meditation about everything that is empty, wanting, sad and hilariously absurd in these united and delusional states of America.”
Kenny contends that “the signs of the apocalypse are everywhere” in the film. “Among them: People who say they’re out to ‘reinvent’ themselves, voice-activated HMO ‘help’ lines, perky morning TV hosts, and, perhaps Dermot Mulroney (who is, in a sense, the most game of all the very game players here). And just as the Coens showed their viewers some mercy by not showing the awful way Moss met his fate in No Country, here they cut away from the action just as it’s eddying into what would have been roiling grotesquerie, leaving two subordinate characters to provide the exposition, and, yes, do a little philosophizing. Which is much funnier than Uncle Ennis.”
I also said the following in my 9.5 review:
“Burn After Reading is not a movie for the ages, but a modest and dead-perfect geiger-counter reading of what ails those desperate, constantly itchy and perturbed Americans in the comfortable urban areas who can’t help but shoot themselves, attack others, make mad lunges at quick money and temporal erotic satisfaction. Prisoners of their swollen egos and limited intelligence. Strivers who must (they feel) have more, who can’t be satisfied or serene, who eat the right foods, belong to health clubs, drink too much, scheme and claw too much and are natural-born comedians in the eyes of God.”
This 9.12 Boston Herald piece by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa seems to offer the best shoe-leather reporting and thorough analysis as to why Robert De Niro recently walked off the Martin Campbell-directed thriller Edge of Darkness, which costarred Mel Gibson.
Boiled down, Campbell “repeatedly shot and re-shot a scene [in which De Niro’s] character tries to hit a ball out of a sand trap” at Gannon Golf Course in Lynn, Massachucetts. De Niro finally got sick of it — how many fucking times do I have to hit this fucking ball and knock sand into my shoes and into my eyes? — and said fuck it, fuck you, I’m outta here. (These aren’t quotes, of course — I’m just putting myself into De Niro’s golf shoes.)
A fully thought-through, cleanly-written primer about the whys and wherefores of movie titles by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell.
There is surely a curse attached to films that have used metals in their titles — The Golden Compass, The Silver Chalice, Cross of Iron. Exceptions to the rule?
“Given that The Hurt Locker is set in Iraq and [director] Kathryn Bigelow has been a bit off the radar of late, journos and industryites mostly had a ‘show me’ attitude about it,” senior Variety critic Todd McCarthy wrote yesterday. “For the majority, Bigelow delivered, with a strong charge of visceral, stops-out action cinema.
Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner
“I’m apparently not the only one to have noticed this, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the film is a very cleverly disguised real-world remake of Bigelow’s ex-husband James Cameron‘s Aliens. (McCarthy may have been referring to my 9.9 review, but has anyone else made this observation?)
“The Hurt Locker is about a bomb-defusing squad of U.S. soldiers; as in Aliens, death can strike you from anywhere, anytime, and Jeremy Renner‘s risk junkie is Sigourney Weaver‘s Ripley, right down to the outer space outfit he sometimes has to wear.”
Aliens‘ Sigourney Weaver at controls of powerloader
If only Ed Harris‘s Appaloosa was (a) less interested in charming the audience with “amusing” dialogue between Harris and Viggo Mortensen and (b) didn’t envision Renee Zellweger‘s character as some kind of two-timing slut who goes skinny-dipping with the bad guys. These things aside, it’s not half bad.
Righteous Kill (Overture, 9.12) — a.k.a, the new DePac — “may not be dead on arrival after all,” a Manhattan media friend wrote yesterday. “I attended the New York premiere and despite the hassle of being forced into an overflow screening room across the street from the Zeigfeld, the film played fairly well in a non-industry room of 100 or so.
“I honestly don’t know why [Overture hasn’t shown] this until two days before the release date. It’s fun to see these two guys. The script gives them plenty of eye-rolling moments, and it’s obvious DeNiro took Pacino into a private trailer and said ‘If you do the hoo-hah guy in this thing I’m walking off the movie.’
“But that said, it’s a fairly mediocre thriller with two amazing guys. And that’s worth the price of admission simply because they will probably never do it again. The film does have one trick up its sleeve that I thought worked pretty well, But once it’s revealed the thing goes on too long.
I was asked yesterday by a journo friend about DeNiro and Pacino’s diminished leading-man, tough-guy cred. I didn’t have any hot info so I just spewed opinion.
“The bottom line is that they’re both well past their leading man days — DeNiro is 65, Pacino is 68 — and nobody wants to see a movie about a couple of grandpa-aged urban detectives. 13 years ago they were beautiful in Heat — lean and muscular and in their middle-aged prime with great haircuts. Today they’re softer, grayer, saggier…less cool. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but they’re just not top-dog machismo types any more. It’s over.
“But of course, they knew this going in when they signed to make Righteous Kill. Producer Avi Lerner is an older, behind-the-curve rug-merchant producer in the Golan-Globus tradition and was willing to pay them their fees, so they said ‘sure, why not? How can we lose?'”