Like In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, I saw Angels and Demons last night also. But I’m not reviewing today because I thought there was some kind of embargo in place until next week…no? Tapley has written that he decided against reviewing because “the idea of tearing a film apart just doesn’t quite appeal to me, believe it or not.”
It’s cruel and heartless to publish high-quality telephoto-lens shots of over-40 actors and actresses in bathing suits on the beach. The attitude behind it is pure Day of the Locust. You’re on a beach in Maui and notice a woman of 42 or so in a bikini who’s had a couple of kids, and it’s nothing. But put a photo of same in the Daily Mail and it’s deliberate aggression on the part of the publishers and readership alike.
My point earlier today about the porn industry being icky [and] filled with untalented and under-educated people didn’t convey the whole equation. The other half is that a fairly healthy percentage of the people who watch porn aren’t exactly sophisticated either. The proof is that not one porn film to my knowledge has ever been shot in black and white. The reason is that porn producers are afraid black-and-white films wouldn’t make any money because they know full well that most of the fans are commoners — no offense.
I’ve said two or three times before that my feelings about porn would change if the films were occasionally shot, lit, staged and acted like Ingmar Bergman‘s The Silence. But porn has never been about luscious silvery eroticism by way of Sven Nykvist; it’s about milky obviousness and fake shrieking and donkey ramming and bright colors saturated all to hell. It’s a kind of prison, porn is. And that fact tells you a lot about people who watch it.
Gay political blogger Michael Rogers was recently threatened with a physical beating during an on-camera interview by Washington, D.C.-based talk show host Doug Mckleway, of Channel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live!” Rogers is a principal talking head in Kirby Dick‘s Outrage (opening 5.8 in several cities), and Mckleway was expressing his extreme anger and discomfort at the idea of outing closeted Washington, D.C. legislators, which is what the film is about.
Without hinting or suggesting anything, please watch the clip and offer thoughts about what is suggested by Mckleway’s telling Rogers that he’d like to take him outside and punch him in the face? Why would Mckleway be this enraged about anti-gay Republican legislators’ right to sexual privacy? Obviously he has some kind of dog in this hunt.
In my 4.25 review of Outrage, I said that it “seems to me like an exceptionally tight and disciplined and truthful testament. It’s ballsy and straight and coming from a healthy place. It’s certainly one of the best-made films I’ve seen this year, and without question one of the toughest and bravest.
“Dick’s aim is to expose a bizarre psychology on the part of closeted politicians who’ve voted against gay civil rights as a way of suppressing their own issues. Bluntly and unambiguously and without any dicking around, Outrage names names. Dick seems to have done his homework; you can sense discipline and exactitude and what seems like solid sourcing all through it. I came away convinced that it’s better to look at this tendency frankly and plainly than to just let it fester.
“I still feel opposed to personally outing anyone, but Dick’s motive is clearly to let air and sunlight into a series of Washington, D.C. situations that have been about shadows for too long. That’s what kept hitting me over and over as I watched — i.e., that Outrage is doing a fine job of persuading me that it’s all about telling the truth. I believed it, I believed it, I believed it.”
Detective: I was just reading your play. I liked a lot of it. I don’t like the main character though. This Marine. Sounds like a real jellyfish. I guess you’re supposed to like him because he’s against the Marine Corp. S’that it?
Suspect: Something like that.
Detective: Why doesn’t he do something? I mean, go over the hill, refuse an order…? I couldn’t sympathize with a character like that.
Suspect: Not everyone did.
Detective: The Marine in the play, that supposed to be you?
Detective: Maybe a little?
Suspect: Maybe on some level.
Detective: You know what I think? On some level? I think you’re the kind of wise chickenshit cocksucker who writes a tearjerk play against the Marines then smuggles a shitload of heroin into this country.
Life is hard and then you die, and we’re all going to get there. Most of us push it away in our heads (I certainly do), and yet sometimes it seeps through anyway. And now 62 year-old Farrah Fawcett has decided to become an agent of one of these intrusions. A cancer sufferer since ’06 and apparently not far from the end, she and producer/friend Alana Stewart have shot a two-hour video diary that will be broadcast on NBC on Friday, 5.15, from 9 to 11 pm. It’s called Farrah’s Story.
I’m not very plugged in with network TV publicists, but I’m going to try to get hold of a screener before I leave for France on Monday. I’m not looking forward to all of the calls I’m going to have to make and all the blah-blah I’ll have to deal with, but it’ll be worth it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to watching it, but I want to see it.
“As much as I would have liked to have kept my cancer private,” Fawcett has said in a 5.7 piece by People‘s Champ Clark, “I now realize that I have a certain responsibility to those who are fighting their own fights and may be able to benefit from learning about mine.”
Primarily shot by Stewart and narrated by Fawcett, the doc tracks her experience with cancer treatments in the U.S. and Germany over the last two or three years, and how she’s coped and dealt with it on various levels. The doc includes appearances by Fawcett’s longtime partner Ryan O’Neal, her Charlie’s Angels co-stars Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, her father Jim Fawcett and her doctors.
“Another visitor has been Fawcett and O’Neal’s son Redmond, who’s [now] behind bars for a drug-related probation violation,” writes Clark. “On April 25 he was allowed three hours at home with his mother to say what might be his final goodbye. In his jail-issued jumpsuit and in shackles, Redmond is seen in the NBC documentary climbing into his sleeping mother’s bed and crying. ‘Oh my gosh, my gosh,’ he says as he hugs the frail figure next to him. ‘Oh, my gosh.'”
Envelope columnist Scott Feinberg interviewed Girlfriend Experience star Sasha Grey six and a half days ago — Thursday, 4.30 — at the Edie and Lew Wasserman Cinematheque on the Brandeis University campus. It’s a fairly intriguing piece. Feinberg is polite and respectful but professionally direct at certain points in the chat. Grey comes off as shrewd, mature, intelligent and — sorry — faintly tragic. Because she works in an icky industry filled with untalented and under-educated people, and because no porn star has ever walked away from it intact.
“Early word of Grey’s impending visit set the city of Boston abuzz,” Feinberg writes, “and — as we learned via blogs, Twitter, talk radio and newspaper columns — she is not someone who engenders mild feelings.
“Some said they had never before heard of or seen her; others said they had heard and seen a lot of her. Some said they vehemently disapproved of what she did for a living; others said they couldn’t get enough of her work. Some were outraged that a prestigious university would invite her to visit its campus and that a respected publication would want to interview her; others — especially the 300 students who managed to snag a ticket to the event — were just plain happy that we did.
“So why did we? Well, to clear things up, for two main reasons: (1) The Girlfriend Experience is a significant film, and (2) Grey is, in her own way, a significant filmmaker.”
Has anyone ever watched any of Grey’s films? I finally did last weekend, for a bit. As long as I could stand it, I mean. There’s really only one word for what I saw — ugly.
Not to finish on an argumentative note, but why did it take the L.A. Times tecchies six days to post this? Why didn’t they have it up the next day or by last weekend, or at least by last Monday? Steven Soderbergh‘s film has been on-demand since last weekend but it doesn’t open until 5.22 so the piece wasn’t delayed to coincide with a weekend opening.
I’ll tell you why. Because the L.A. Times tecchies are notoriously slow and bureaucratic when it comes to getting things done. (Staffers and freelancers routinely groan and roll their eyes about their shortcomings — trust me.) And, I suspect, because they prefer not to work on weekends. And when they come to work on Monday it takes them a long while to get rolling. Because they spend huge portions of their work days in meetings.
Web reporting has to turn around within hours, or certainly within a day. The L.A. Times just doesn’t get it. They’re competing in a 24/7 web world, but they’re still behaving in some ways like print.
And why is the video so pixellated and awful looking? Did the guy at Brandeis shoot this on a cell phone? And why do the Times tecchies make it difficult to grab a video embed code? Why do they make you click on “Page Source” and scroll down and scrounge around for the code?
Rewind: After catching The Girlfriend Experience at Sundance on 1.20, I wrote that “it smacks of right-now verite, is smartly written and very well made. (And recently shot also with all kinds of references to the Obama-McCain race and the economic meltdown.)
“No one would call it the stuff of high Shakespearean drama, but I wasn’t bored for a second. It’s smallish and low-key like Soderbergh’s Bubble but set in Manhattan and focusing on a very pretty upscale prostitute and the various men in her life — boyfriend, journalist, sleazy erotic website editor, high-rollers looking to buy her favors, etc.
“I presume that everyone reading this knows that Soderbergh is far too dry, ironic and circumspect to be a provider of hot sex scenes or even mildly suggestive ones (as in, say, Alan Resnais‘ Hiroshima Mon Amour). He maintains a cool distance in this regard at all times, which is welcome considering the appearance of Grey’s clients. Some of them, I mean. Two or three inspired a prayer from yours truly: ‘Please, God, I don’t want to see any middle-aged butt cheeks or bloated stomachs or funny-looking feet.’
“Soderbergh frames most of The Girlfriend Experience with static medium and long shots — there are almost no close-ups. He said during the q & a that the photography in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert was an influence.
“Grey, a real-life porn star, isn’t as much of an actress as she could be. Scene after scene requites her to keep it all locked inside, and she’s good at that. I hate to say this because it makes me sound small, but it seems fair since Frey is presenting herself as an object of desire: her feet are too big.
“Grey’s live-in boyfriend is played by 30 year-old Chris Santos, who delivers reasonably well in a somewhat layered and mildly challenging role.
“I didn’t know what the title meant until I looked at The Girlfriend Experience IMDB page. A trivia notes posting says that ‘a call girl advertising the provision of a girlfriend experience is implying that she provides deep French kissing, full service intercourse with protection, and oral sex without protection.’
“This reminded me of the services that Ashley Alexandra Dupree allegedly provided (or were sought out by) former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.”