“Simply put, Criterion’s Blu-ray of Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion outperforms every other release I have seen. Contrast is excellent, clarity very impressive and detail simply fantastic. The color-scheme is also superb – blacks are deep and lush while whites are gentle and natural looking. Additionally, this is a pure, unfiltered print with plenty of healthy grain.” Plenty? Healthy? “To sum it all up, Criterion’s Blu-ray release is nothing short of a revelation.” — from Svet Atanasov‘s 7.10 review on Blu-ray.com.
Jett wanted to see Bruno so we went late this afternoon. I really didn’t like paying $25 for the tickets. Not right; felt wrong. It so upset me I couldn’t watch the film.
A non-negative implication, despite the Urban Dictionary definition of “wack” — Saturday, 7.11, 9:25 pm. Language is always a fluid and evolving entity/organism.
Sunday, 7.12, 1:35 pm
The Towering Inferno was entertaining crap when it opened 35 years ago, and the exact same deal applies now that it’s on Blu-ray. But Paul Newman and Steve McQueen are honorable and oak-solid in their starring roles. This is impressive given the fact that neither actor has a real part to play — they were just paid to show up and go through the Irwin Allen paces. They knew it then and we know it now, but they deliver the goods anyway. That’s professionalism and star power.
There are four ways that brand-name actors deliver straight-paycheck performances in mediocre big-studio films. One, they do it straight and plain and cruise by on chops and charisma, like McQueen and Newman. Two, they do it straight and plain and don’t cruise by on chops and charisma — they sink into the movie like quicksand and slowly suffocate. Three, they behave in an extremely mannered and very actorish way as a way of telegraphing to the audience that they are totally aware that they’re in a crap film, and that they want everyone to know that they know this. And four, they go beyond mannered and go waay over the top (like Jon Voight in Anaconda) and turn their performances into inspired farce.
Examples of any of the above?
“The Palinist ‘real America’ is demographically doomed to keep shrinking,” notes N.Y. Times columnist Frank Rich. ” But the emotion it represents is disproportionately powerful for its numbers. It’s an anger that Sarah Palin enjoyed stoking during her ‘palling around with terrorists’ crusade against Obama on the campaign trail. It’s an anger that’s curdled into self-martyrdom since Inauguration Day.
Illustration by Barry Blitt.
“These are the cries of a constituency that feels disenfranchised — by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House. Palin is their born avatar. She puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions, and she can solidify her followers’ hold on a G.O.P. that has no leaders with the guts or alternative vision to stand up to them or to her.”
Last night some friends and I sat down with the recently-released DVD of Lonely Are the Brave. I haven’t seen it since ’96 but it really and truly works. Still. It’s an honest, well constructed, beautifully shot (in ravishing black-and-white Scope), deeply sad film with small servings of comic absurdism on the part of the secondary lawmen characters (i.e., not Walter Matthau‘s but everyone else).
Lonely Are The Brave is probably Kirk Douglas‘s finest film, and his performance as the sentimental but obstinate Jack Burns is argbualy the best of his career. (Although my favorite Douglas performance is still his Colonel Dax in Paths of Glory.) There’s a tribute doc on the DVD with Douglas, Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas and costar Gena Rowlands praising it as an unsung gem.
And you can only get this sublime little film through mail order. The DVD isn’t buyable in any retail store in Manhattan, or at least none that I could find. (I took the F train to Brooklyn yesterday and snagged a copy from Glenn Kenny.) It’s not in the few DVD stores that remain in business (a fast-dwindling number) because it’s regarded as such a fringe title that it’s not even worth stocking. Terrific. Wonderful news. Let’s all drive down to the plex and go see I Love You Beth Cooper, and then get together outside and take turns committing suicide with a samurai sword.
Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke ran a boxoffice update yesterday that said Bruno, which enjoyed a strong $14.2 million Friday kickoff, experienced a devastating 37% Friday-to-Saturday dropoff, resulting in a dispiriting $9 million Saturday haul.
So instead of Bruno earning a potential $40 million or so (which would be indicated by Friday’s earnings, no?) the comedy will finish this evening with about $30 million (a per-screen average of $10,881 in 2,757 situations). That’s okay from a certain perspective but throw in Bruno‘s reported “C” rating from CinemaScore and you have two clear indications that Bruno has no future– that it’s all downhill from here on.
Why the 37% dropoff and “C” score? The Borat retread factor (i.e., been-there, done-that). The brusque and somewhat misanthropic tone (particularly in the Ron Paul sequence). The lack of genuinely hilarious moments. What has everyone heard, felt, detected, observed? A journalist friend told me this morning about reports of walkouts — has anyone witnessed any?
In Michael Powell‘s N.Y. Times profile of Andrew Sarris, it is noted that the legendary film critic has been entirely cut loose by the N.Y. Observer. Which wasn’t supposed to happen. Life is hard and people lie. The solution, of course, is for Sarris to immediately switch to an online berth. As I wrote about his situation on 6.11, “All writers need to keep on chooglin’ until they drop. There is no spoon and there is no retirement.”
The initial reports on 6.10 and 6.11 were that diminishing revenues had forced Sarris’s Observer editors to whack him. It was soon after reported by Dave Kehr, who’d spoken to Sarris’s author-critic wife Molly Haskell, that rumors of Sarris’s dismissal were “not true” and that he would”continue to write on a freelance basis, exactly as Rex Reed does currently.”
A reversal of strategy only three or four weeks later suggests that the editor who assured Sarris/Haskell that everything would be more or less jake (albeit on a freelance basis) was being disingenuous.
“There’s a part of me that looks beyond everything now,” Sarris tells Powell. “I don’t approve of Woody Allen‘s view of death. I acknowledge it, but I hope there’s more time, as there’s a lot of movies I’d like to see and think about.”
What Woody Allen view would that be exactly? The only one I can think of is “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work — I want to achieve it by not dying.”
I said last month that writing is brutal or difficult or at least a slog for most of us, but not writing is a death sentence. Writing keeps you in the game, sharpens your mind, makes you inquisitive, feeds the engine, keeps you on your toes, etc. It is the only thing for a writer to do.