There are so many newspaper buyouts, layoffs, firings and salary rollbacks these days that every time I see a flurry of fresh reports along these lines, I write anyone I know who’s working for one of the beseiged publications and I say “how goes it?” I wrote this to two friends today. One of them wrote back with the following: “Am I okay as in ‘do I still have job security’? Yeah. Am I okay as in ‘how do I cope with an 11.5% paycut’? Remains to be seen.”
In an essay that introduces Newsweek‘s Paul Krugman-profile cover story, titled “Obama Is Wrong,” editor Jon Meacham notes that “every once a while, a critic emerges who is more than a chatterer — a critic with credibility whose views seem more than a little plausible and who manages to rankle those in power in more than passing ways.
“As the debate over the rescue of the financial system–the crucial step toward stabilizing the economy and returning the country to prosperity–unfolds, [Krugman] has emerged as the kind of critic who, as Evan Thomas writes, appears disturbingly close to the mark when he expresses his ‘despair’ over the administration’s bailout plan. …
“There is little doubt that Krugman — Nobel laureate and Princeton professor — has be come the voice of the loyal opposition. What is striking about this development is that Obama’s most thoughtful critic is taking on the president from the left at a time when, as Jonathan Alter notes, so many others are reflexively arguing that the administration is trying too much too soon.
“A devoted liberal, Krugman hungers for what he calls ‘a new New Deal,’ and he prides himself on his status as an outsider. (He is as much of an outsider as a Nobel laureate from Princeton with a column in the Times can be.) Is Krugman right? Is the Obama administration too beholden to Wall Street and to the status quo, trying to save a system that is beyond salvation? Does Obama have — despite the brayings of the right — too much faith in the markets at a time when prudence suggests that they cannot rescue themselves?
“We do not know yet, and will not for a while to come. But as Evan — hardly a rabble-rousing lefty — writes, a lot of people have a ‘creeping feeling’ that the Cassandra from Princeton may just be right. After all, the original Cassandra was.”
The Film Forum’s 12-day Jules Dassin retrospective began yesterday. I’ve never seen Night and the City (Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, 1950), and so I’ll be catching the 5:40 pm show. I’ve never seen Dassin’s Up Tight! either, but the rep on this one — a militant black revolutionary riff on The Informer — is pretty bad. Such that it’ll probably never make DVD. I’m guessing that another late ’60s black-militant melodrama, Robert Alan Aurthur‘s The Lost Man with Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus, will never see DVD either. Like they never existed.
Posters for Dassin’s Up Tight!, Authur’s The Lost Man.
Eight days of play and Tony Gilroy‘s Duplicity, by any measure an above-average, extremely satisfying film on the terms that it lays out and works with, did $2.3 million yesterday, and will probably end up with $6 million and change by Sunday night. That’s a greater-than-50% drop from its opening weekend tally of $13,965,110, which wasn’t that great to begin with. Which basically means over and out.
Gilroy’s Michael Clayton cost about $26 million to make, and took in $92,991,835 worldwide not counting DVD and whatnot. Duplicity was much pricier — a guy in a position to know told me $80 million, give or take — and will probably finish with less than half of Clayton‘s take, ancillaries aside.
I’m sorry. Life is unfair. Gilroy did as good a job as anyone could have with a sophisticated corporate-suspense brain teaser such as this. And it certainly got the reviews. But Julia Roberts is over and that’s the bottom line. Both my kids, 19 and 20, have told me they don’t like her at all. Even my ex-wife says she doesn’t harbor any affinity. J.R. still has plenty of juice as a feisty lead or character actress as long as she drops her price sufficiently. She had her run. She’s worth $400 million or thereabouts. She’ll obviously be fine.
I’ve been fuming all my life at the martian-head rule that dominates each and every full-body statue in every corner of the world. A naturally proportioned full-body statue will create an impression, viewed from below, of the figure’s head being too small. The age-old solution has been a rule that all statues must have disproportionately large heads. Except every sculptor in the known world has over-submitted to this rule, and — this is the odd part — to the exact same degree. I’m talking 100% uniformity.
The bizarre result is that every statue in the world, from Beijing to Bangor to Timbuktu, seems to have a genetic commonality in the same way that people afflicted with Down’s Syndrome seem to have the same kind of slanted eyes and doughy bodies. Every statued figure in the world (including John Wayne on his horse at the corner of Wilshire and La Cienega) looks like a space alien with a strangely swollen cranium.
This has been driving me insane for years. I know this rule will hold throughout eternity because the standing-statue mafia is too dug in, and that no one will ever listen, and I’ll be alone with this for the rest of my life. But I’m right. It almost seems like a deliberate provocation on the part of the powers that be. We’re going to put martian-head statues in every city around the world, they almost seem to be saying, and we want to see how far we can push it. Or rather, we want to see if anyone will have the spirit to say anything about this, or if people will just accept it like they accept everything else.
I know that every time I come upon a standing statue (most often in Europe), I mutter a tiny little “fuck you” under my breath. It gets me every time.