“It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. And it is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?” — establishment conservative George Will in a 9.23 Washington Post column called “McCain Loses His Head.”
In a Film in Focus piece called “Genesis of a Poster,” Andrew Percival from Mojo House, an advertising company, discusses the poster for Burn After Reading. The inspiration, he says, was the stylish design of cutting-edge movie posters of the ’60s. The first example he mentions is the one-sheet for The Comedians. And yet he doesn’t mention the name of the godfather of edgy movie poster design in the ’50s and ’60s — i.e., Saul Bass. Why, I wonder? What’s Percival’s obstruction?
I wrote the following last June: “The influence of illustrator-designer Saul Bass persists and persists. Last year ThinkFilm’s Mark Urman ordered up a poster for Sidney Lumet‘s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead that referenced the look of Bass’s classic one-sheets, and this year — now — we have a new poster that also hums with Bassian attitude, particularly in its use of a font similar to one Bass used in the ’50s and ’60s — hand-drawn, block letters — for the films of director Otto Preminger. Before revealing the new poster, here are three Bass samples:
Saul Bass one-sheets for Otto Preminger’s The Man With the Golden Arm, In Harm’s Way and Bunny Lake Is Missing.
“And here’s the new poster, revealed today on Cinematical, for Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Burn After Reading. The font is actually a mixture of Bass and Pablo Ferro‘s hand-drawn title design for the opening of Dr. Strangelove.”
“I can’t believe this Palin-McCain stuff,” W. director Oliver Stone has told USA Today‘s Anthony Breznican. “I thought the other day [that they’re being] made to look like anchors on a TV show in San Diego. Here’s the old guy with the white hair and the young chick with the glasses, sitting side by side. ‘Trust me…we’re a good team.'” Shouldn’t Stone have said “trust us, we’re a good team?” And why did he say “Palin-McCain” rather than the other way around?
“Why are MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow so biased?,” HuffPost columnist Eric Burns asked last Friday. “Because the Republicans are providing them with so much material that their bias is, at its core, a form of objectivity. They are not partisan so much as perceptive.
“I do not reveal my own choice for president when I state that, several days ago, John McCain made the most eye-popping comment I have ever heard uttered by a candidate for the White House.
“The topic was the economy. ‘My friends,’ he said to a gathering in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on 9.19, ‘this is the problem with Washington. People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven’t ever done a thing to actually challenge the system.
“We’ve heard a lot of words from Senator Obama over the course of this campaign. But maybe just this once he could spare us the lectures, and admit to his own poor judgment in contributing to these problems. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was square in the middle of it.”
“Uh…yes he was, Senator McCain. Senator Obama was square in the middle of it for less than three years! But you have been square in the middle of it for 22 years! If Senator Obama is too inexperienced to be President, as your campaign has many times suggested, how could he possibly have made such a powerful contribution to the plundering of the American marketplace?
“Nobody in McCain’s audience laughed when the candidate charged Obama with being an economy-wrecking Washington insider. Nobody snickered when the Washington insider accused the relative outsider of maliciousness beyond his years. Or his ability. Or his record.
“I take it back. Somebody snickered. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were among them. So was I.
“And so now I ask myself, how hard is it these days for news programs be objective when the material on which they report sounds as if it were produced by writers for Saturday Night Live, and then rejected on the grounds of its being too preposterous to be funny?”
This TV trailer of Oliver Stone‘s W. (Lionsgate, 10.17) is the wildest yet. Brolin’s performance as our current sitting president, it would appear, treads the line between realism and satire like a mountain goat. You can’t tell from short cuts, but it’s feeling more and more to me like a dry-but-extreme Peter Sellers performance in Lolita and Dr. Strangelove.
Josh Brolin in W.; Francis Bacon’s “Pope“
It’s been eight years and 9 days since the 9.13.00 opening of Cameron Crowe‘s Almost Famous, and the launching of the career of Kate Hudson, then 21 years old. Hudson’s touching, vulnerable, sexy-sunny performance as Stillwater groupie Penny Lane — not a “supporting role” but something close to that — sealed the deal and led to a string of starring roles in lesser vehicles. And as a result of all the stinkers she’s been in since — 11 awful awfuls — Hudson has just about killed the aura.
I think it’s fair to say that the hope-trust factor that every movie star needs has been eliminated in Hudson’s case, as in totally. Is there another actress out there whose name on a movie poster is a more reliable assurance you’re going to have a dispiriting or lousy time in a theatre (or in your living room)? Okay, one — Ana Faris.
When was the last time you saw a trailer for a Hudson movie and said to yourself, “Hey, wow…that one looks good.” I’ve been saying the exact opposite for about five years now. Since the time, to be precise, of Le Divorce, Alex and Emma and How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Then came The Skeleton Key, which was shit, and then You, Me and Dupree, which was strained and silly and sloppy. And then the dreadful Fool’s Gold with Matthew McConaughey, and now My Best Friend’s Girl, which is said to be unwatchable. (Although I’ve yet to see it personally.)
It’s obvious she has no taste in scripts — she’ll make anything. It can be deduced that she isn’t terribly perceptive. It can be assumed she’s not Albert Einstein. And it’s just a shame. Everyone thought she was a huge find and a natural-born charmer when Almost Famous was fresh in the mind, and now look at her — she’s done. Her name is synonymous with mediocrity and ditziness. What are the odds of a director of serious calibre ever offering Hudson a role as good as Penny Lane again? Next to nil at this point.
Finally, a stand-alone trailer for Sam Mendes‘ Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage, 12.26). The Entertainment Tonight exclusive below, in which Mary Hart revoltingly compares the Kate-Leo pairing to Titanic, had been the only decent footage I could find previously. But even with ET mucking up the vibe, you could smell greatness in it, particularly from DiCaprio’s performance.
On last Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Andrew Sullivan offered perhaps the most perceptive thought I’ve yet heard about the racial fears shared by the 55-and-over crowd about Barack Obama. I can’t find a transcript, but he basically said that it’s not Obama’s latte-ness per se that turns them off, as much as the fact that he represents a shifting racial-cultural paradigm in this country.
Where almost all under-40 GenXers are completely accustomed to and cool with the day-to-day realities of a multi-cultural society and work force, Obama’s ascendancy is being interpreted by the 55-and-overs as a symbolic confirmation that the largely white-bread country they grew up in as kids and teenagers — the Brady Bunch ’50s and ’60s culture in which WASPs pretty much ruled socially, economically and in the media, and in which racial minorities primarily lived and worked on the sidelines — is gone, and this is making them feel insecure and threatened.
To this out-of-it group (i.e., the aging Mickey Mouse Club crowd), the prospect of Obama in the White House is an unmistakable sign that their “world”, in short, is coming to an end, and they’re afraid of being left out in the economic cold as a result.
The reptiles running the McCain campaign, being no fools, are naturally doing what they can to exploit this. As this Brent Staples N.Y. Times “editorial observer” piece, dated 9.21 and titled “John McCain, Barack Obama and the Politics of Race,” points out.
“In the Old South, black men and women who were competent, confident speakers on matters of importance were termed ‘disrespectful,’ the implication being that all good Negroes bowed, scraped, grinned and deferred to their white betters.
“In what is probably a harbinger of things to come, John McCain‘s campaign has already run a commercial that carries a similar intimation, accusing Barack Obama of being ‘disrespectful’ to Sarah Palin. The argument is muted, but its racial antecedents are very clear.
“The throwback references that have surfaced in the campaign suggest that Republicans are fighting on racial grounds, even when express references to race are not evident. In a replay of elections past, the G.O.P. will try to leverage racial ghosts and fears without getting its hands visibly dirty. The Democrats try to parry in customary ways.
“Mr. Obama seems to understand that he is always an utterance away from a statement — or a phrase — that could transform him in a campaign ad from the affable, rational and racially ambiguous candidate into the archetypical angry black man who scares off the white vote. His caution is evident from the way he sifts and searches the language as he speaks, stepping around words that might push him into the danger zone.
“These maneuvers are often painful to watch. The troubling part is that they are necessary.”
“I don’t know how long the new Ben-and-Ben version of At The Movies will last,” eFilmCritic’s Eric Childress wrote three days ago. “Maybe it’s still a work-in-progress that will get smoother each week, but I highly doubt it. Missing Roger and Gene and even what Roeper and Phillips and guest hosts like A.O. Scott brought to the table is only part of it. A large part, but still only part. Those shows, even up to the very end of their run, provoked discussion, encouraged banter and unforced witticism.
“Are we really going to count on Ben & Ben to introduce us to the next One False Move or Hoop Dreams? Are we ever going to see such passion and excitement again on classics like GoodFellas, Schindler’s List and Fargo? How about the serious and challenging disagreements offered on Blue Velvet, Barfly or The Silence of the Lambs? Reevaluations of director’s cuts like The Abyss and Blade Runner?
“If Gene Siskel could guarantee he wouldn’t see better films than Crumb and Fargo so early in the year, then I feel safe in guaranteeing that not one conversation between the Bens will be as interesting as Siskel & Ebert off camera — a variation if you will on Gene’s ‘Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?'”
The first thing wrong with this 40th anniversary screening and celebration of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey on October 12th in downtown L.A. is that it’s about six months too late. The classic stoner-mystic sci-fier opened in early April 1968, and so staging a 40th anni tribute three weeks from today is like…whatever, staging one in November 2007, or six months too early. You have to be serious about dates when you’re raising a glass — you can’t fuck around.
The second thing wrong is having At The Movies co-host Ben Mankiewicz co-host it. He might be an okay guy on his own terms, but that new show is a gross defiling — ask anyone — and Mankiewicz has made himself into a philistine of the first order. Herman and Joseph are twitching in their graves.
The third thing wrong is that the print shown at the Edison will apparently just be a run-of-the-mill 35mm anamorphic, as the invitation obviously makes no mention of a 70 mm version, much less the Edison’s capability to show such a print. The only way to have seen 2001 in years past was in 70 mm, which has happened, I’m told, at the Arclight twice this year.
And isn’t it time for an IMAX print to be made? I strongly agree with rgmax99 that “if Warners had some brains and/or respect, they would have prepped a 2001 IMAX print and opened it nationwide.” Although my guess (and I could be 180 degrees wrong) is that Ned Price and George Feltenstein did consider making an IMAX version and decided against it out of fear that the under-30s wouldn’t attend.
Update: This page scan is from Seattle’s The Stranger, a local weekly. Original Sunday night post: I don’t know where this page scan came from, and I strongly doubt that Heart’s Anne and Nancy Wilson co-wrote this letter to John McCain — the line about McCain “chomping away at [Cindy’s] breasts with little yellow teeth” is the giveaway — but they should have written it. For the five or six seconds that I thought it might be real, I was falling in love with these women like I never did in the ’70s.