Okay, a bit on-the-nose and literal-minded in some of the cuts, but there is a Brando-Beatles bond…I see that now. The masher is Mark Beers, who hails from “some shit town in Canada.” “Go on, tell me, you pigfucker…cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” Excellent job.
I tend to have problems with lead protagonists who aren’t very smart or clever or self-protecting, especially if they’re journalists. Blokes who just blunder in, regardless of the climate or threat levels in the room, and state their business or line of inquiry without ever seeming to realize that without showing a little finesse and caution and without some idea of what might happen among territorial types when a blundering snoop starts poking around that he might very well get hit, kicked, gouged, cut and bruised very badly.
In Julian Jarrold‘s 1974, the first installment in the Red Riding trilogy, Andrew Garfield (Lions for Lambs, Boy A) plays such a blunderer. And I simply lost patience with him, as I would lose patience with anyone under any circumstance who can’t size up the room, reign in his cruder impulses and make an attempt to find out what he needs to know the way a shrewd card player counts what he’s seen and decides how to play his hand.
On top of which I really can’t stand actors who constantly smoke. All I really knew about Garfield’s journalist (named Eddie Dunford) is that he has one King Kong of a nicotine habit. I began to mutter to myself that Garfield needs to man up and get through just one scene without lighting up. He may done this once, but it wasn’t enough. I began to actively dislike and then despise Garfield. Then I started wishing he’d be killed. I wanted him dead, I wanted him dead…sooner rather than later. Sadly, irritatingly, Jarrold made me wait for it, and when the moment came…I’m actually not sure what happened, but I think it was a good thing.
So much for installment #1 of the Red Riding trilogy. I’ll catch the other two on DVD some day…maybe. (Posted on iPhone from a Starbucks on 49th and Eighth.)
New York Film Festival press screenings began today. I missed this morning’s showing of The Art of the Deal, but I’m definitely planning to catch all or most of the Red Riding trilogy at Magno, which begins at 4 pm. There’s also a Michael Moore-Tina Brown q & a about Capitalism: A Love Story that I’m going to try and attend at Alice Tully Hall staring around 8:30 or thereabouts. So that’s it for the column until much later tonight.
More than 20 months after playing the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Stanley Tucci‘s Blind Date will suffer a cruel and humiliating exhibition fate — an opening this weekend at Manhattan’s Cinema Village on 12th Street. (Variance Films has booked it there on the way to DVD.) And now its delayed appearance has taken a toll in another minor way.
Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci in Blind Date.
Marshall Fine‘s positive review reminded me that Blind Date is about a husband and wife (Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) role-playing a series of blind dates. This, it turns out, is pretty much the same premise of one of the short films in New York, I Love You (Vivendi, 10.16), the forthcoming (and very nicely rendered) omnibus film from the producers of Paris Je’taime. Directed by Yvan Attal, it’s about a married couple (Chris Cooper, Robin Wright Penn) pretending to meet and flirt in front of a Manhattan restaurant. Not exactly the same thing, but close enough.
We can’t expect Hollywood’s Eloi-catering commercial forces to pay official tribute to an almost 70-year-old classic film, but it seems fundamentally wrong that there isn’t some kind of official memorial somewhere to Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane. And what better place to have this memorial than the Palace theatre on Broadway and 47th, where Kane had its grand debut in on or about May 1, 1941?
You can find memorial statues and stones and museum exhibits at every major historical site in this country, from the remnants of the Alamo in San Antonio to the huge sloping field where the 1969 Woodstock festival took place to the location of 1863 Gettysburg battle to the JFK assassination museum in Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Hollywood history is also remembered here and there. The site of the original Jesse Lasky players can be found on L.A.’s Cahuenga Blvd., and there are brass plaques mounted on the Warner Bros. sound stages that list the films that were long ago shot within (Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, etc.).
But there’s nothing that pays tribute to the debut of Citizen Kane — obviously a seminal event in American motion picture history — at the Palace. It was the site of the film’s greatest hour in terms of contemporary audience reception, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that it was a small miracle that the film opened at all, given the pressures upon exhibitors and newspapers from the Hearst Corporation to bury the film, or at least have it officially ignored. It was quite a film and quite an event, and it just seems wrong — disrespectful, at the very least — that there’s not a plaque or some modest glass-enclosed display within the Palace (which is now showing West Side Story to the rubes) that acknowledges this seminal event.
Sony Pictures Classics has picked up Samuel Maoz‘s Lebanon, a Hurt Locker-ish view of war from inside an Israeli tank during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The film will play at the forthcoming NY Film Festival and screen for press two days hence — can’t wait.
The idea would be to position Lebanon as a contender for the 2009 Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar, assuming that Israel submits it as an official entry. (And this isn’t a done deal.) SPC has recently shown a special allegiance for Israeli-made dramas, picking up Ari Folman‘s Waltz With Bashir (also about Israel’s Lebanon invasion) and Eran Kolirin‘s The Band’s Visit.
I can’t imagine anyone disputing, as I wrote last May in Cannes, that Lee Daniels‘ Precious is an “immensely sad, fully felt and deeply compassionate film.” And I wouldn’t vigorously dispute Roger Ebert‘s 9.19 prediction that Precious became an even likelier Best Picture nominee last weekend after winning the Toronto Film Festival Cadillac audience award (after having won with the same award in Sundance last January).
Mo’Nique in Lee Daniels’ Precious.
But I need to admit what I’ve been saying to myself since Cannes, which is that I have no interest in seeing Precious a second time.
(Note: Most of the Precious plot particulars have been revealed in various reviews, but spoiler whiners need to stop reading now because I’m doing to mention some of them.)
I don’t want to go into that awful apartment building again and watch that grotesque and pathetic monster-mom (Mo’Nique) abuse and torture that immensely unhappy, morbidly obese young girl (Gabby Sidibe), or think again about Mo’Nique allowing her animal boyfriend to have his way with Sidibe, partly out of her resentment toward her daughter and partly due to some revolting quid pro quo imagining that if the boyfriend got what he wanted he’d stay with Mo’Nique.
I’ve watched all kinds of violent and horrific behavior in films, but I’ve never run into anything quite as sadistically cold-blooded as I have in Precious. So I’m done…sorry.
It’s a real-life, lower-depths horror film, is what it is.
During the Toronto Film Festival a reporter from either the Globe & Mail or the Star quoted Good Hair‘s Chris Rock as saying “I can’t watch Precious again.” Maybe he’d already seen it two and three times and felt that was enough, but reading this (can’t find the link) reminded me of my core feelings. Precious is something you watch and go “wow, deeply moving!” and then stay away from for the rest of your life.
I suspect that most of the Precious support is about people wanting to cast (for their own reasons as much as their liking of the film) a symbolic vote for caring and compassion. It’s about people wanting to say to their community and to themselves, “Good God…we have to help someone with an affliction like this and do what we can to symbolically refute the sort of familial abuse that created her pain in the first place.”
This same feeling could possibly carry Sidibe to a Best Supporting Actress nomination…maybe. I’ve also wondered from the start if Mo’Nique is perhaps portraying too much of a monster for people to vote for her. (I’m not saying she doesn’t give the part hell — that confession scene at the end is phenomenal — but I am nursing doubts.) By my sights the most impressive acting in the film is from Mariah Carey because her human-services psychologist or counselor seems so quietly focused and restrained, and of course so un-Carey-like. She’s barely recognizable. And of course she’s an agent of healing, which is another vague plus.
I heard the somewhat raspy, high-pitched voice of H.G. Wells for the very first time this morning, when the link to this early 1941 radio chat with Orson Welles landed in my inbox. All my life I’ve been saying “H.G., not Orson” when anyone’s asked about spelling my family name. Nothing more than that. (Thanks to Michael Bergeron.)