Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil began running DGA predictions yesterday. So far the score is 20 experts for Team Bigelow and 8 for Team Cameron. The Bigelow boosters are not indulging in wishful thinking. As the PGA awards showed, there’s a good chance that The Hurt Locker could take Best Picture besides. The Directors Guild awards ceremony will happen Saturday evening
A discussion followed an early-evening screening at Park City’s Eccles theatre of Mal Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom‘s The Shock Doctrine, a smart 80-minute doc based on Naomi Klein‘s 2008 book. The panelists were Whitecross, Winterbottom, Robert Redford, Klein and a writer from The Nation whose name I didn’t get. I huddled with other photographers at the foot of the stage and shot two or three portions.
The doc explains Klein’s “disaster capitalism” theory, which perceives that neo-liberal Chicago School capitalism (the seed of late economist Milton Friedman) feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance. The doc didn’t turn my head around because it more or less says what I already suspected or agreed with. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I can speak only of the last 55% of Bryan Poyser‘s Lovers of Hate, which is how much I saw of this mumblecore pic early this afternoon. The part I caught is inspired low-key slapstick — a revelation. I’ve never liked Blake Edwards-style slapstick because it’s always played too broadly, going for the big yaw-haw. Poyser is playing the same basic game, but with a low-key, toned-down approach. What he delivers is like Noises Off but played at cruise speed, and spiked with typically earnest mumblecore emoting.
Richard Linklater, Lovers of Hate director Bryan Poyser during this afternoon’s party at home of Austin Film Society board member Deborah Green,.
The basic setup is about a successful fantasy-novel writer named Paul (Alex Karpovsky) having arranged an assignation in a Park City mansion with Diana (Heather Kafka), the estranged wife of his older, less successful brother Rudy (Chris Doubek). When the still attached, possessive and enraged Rudy realizes what’s going on, he drives up from Austin to Park City to try and win his wife back. (Or at least guilt-trip her.) What he actually does is engage in a little first-hand espionage and a revival of the hide-and-seek games he used to play with his kid brother.
Lovers of Hate is smallish but engaging, tightly cut, well written, randomly sexy and occasionally quite funny. I like my physical humor natural and un-pushed.
After the screening 42West publicist Adam Kersh drove me and Eric Kohn up to the Park City mountaintop mansion where half of the film was shot. A party for the Lovers of Hate team and some other Austion-lined festivalgoers (including Richard Linklater, who helped the Hate crew in an unofficial way) eventually commenced. The hostess (and former co-owner of the mansion) is Deborah Green, a member of the Austin Film Society. It was she who donated the home for shooting last year at this time.
Katie Aselton, Poyser
In a just-posted Movieline interview, Tillman Story director Amir Bar-Lev is asked how he feels about the pivotal, incriminating memo in the film, which was authored by General Stanley McChrystal, who currently commands our forces in Afghanistan. Bar-Lev answers as follows:
“Listen, it’s not a complicated answer. No one in the government has ever admitted that there was a cover-up, and to watch the contortions that these public figures go to in order to publicly flagellate themselves without admitting what’s pretty obvious to everybody — that they tried to cover up Pat Tillman‘s death — is absurd.
“General McChrystal is just one of several high-ranking figures who’s never been called to account for his role, and the story continues to this very moment. He gets up there at his swearing-in and basically says what has been said all along, which is, ‘I know what it looks like. I know that it looks like we deliberately covered it up, but believe us that it was this Rube Goldberg-esque chain of mistakes, blunders, and errors that look like a cover-up.’
“The only fucking idiots who buy that, the only fools who believe that, are the mainstream press. It’s just so clear to everyone else, and it’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Honey, I know that it looks like I’m f—ing your sister, but actually I dropped my wallet, and then my belt fell down, and she happened to be there.’ That’s what the military has done in the Pat Tillman case.”
“Catcher in the Rye” author J.D. Salinger, who disappeared and stayed that way after becoming known as the seminal author of adolescent angst and alienation in the 1950s and early ’60s, has died at age 91.
You could almost argue that Salinger played an unwitting, tangential and nonsensical part in the murder of John Lennon. You can’t argue that and actually mean it, of course, because it’s fundamentally absurd. But as John Guare wrote in Six Degres of Separation, “Catcher” proved to be a seminal tome for more than one malignant malcontent.
No plans except seeing Lovers of Hate at 12:15 pm (i.e., 75 minutes from now) and then going to an afternoon party that Richard Linklater will presumably attend and trying to write about Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right, both of which I saw last night. And maybe catching one more Sundance film in one of those little black-drape DVD booths at the Park City Marriott headquarters. And then packing. Outta here tomorrow.
Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik and some of the film’s costars following last night’s screening at the Prospector. The film is straight, sturdy, “real.” But my primary thought as I left is that I’m glad I wasn’t born to poor folk in the Ozarks, and that I’d be accepting if not grateful if the Emperor of the Universe told me I’ll never visit this region ever again for the rest of my life.
I missed Chris Gore’s book-signing ceremony at Dolly’s Books on Main Street. I arrived two or three hours later, flipped through the book, wasted a little time, etc.
Wednesday, 1.27, 2:55 pm.
Thursday, 1.28, 8:10 am.
At Prospector Square cafe last night, just before screening of Winter’s Bone.
Hats off to Oregonian critic and author Shawn Levy for having dropped 50 pounds within the last year. He did the usual diet-and-exercise thing plus cut out drinking beer.
Wednesday, 1.27, 10:55 pm.
Serious cold and heavy snow outside, and this Sundance volunteer — a young Australian guy — was wearing shorts and sneakers. I half-admire the absurdity of dressing like this; I also felt a brief urge to grab this guy and smack him around.
“I’m fairly certain When in Rome (1.29) was not originally intended to be a theatrical motion picture,” writes OK magazine’s Phil Villarreal, “but a propaganda film meant to twist your mind into hating many things: Kristen Bell, the city of Rome — nay, the entire populace of Italy. And possibly life itself.
The Touchstone release is basically “a weak rehash of Love Potion No. 9, with Love Potion No. 9 replaced by crack. Random plotting, insipid dialogue and pathetic acting conjoining to become a medieval torture device in movie form.
“How bad was it? My friend’s easily impressed wife, who once called Get Smart the funniest movie she’s ever seen and actually enjoyed Leap Year, wasn’t all that high on it, dismissing it as ‘gimmicky.’
“Translation: It’s the worst movie ever created, with the possible exceptions of Hellboy II and the Super Mario Bros. movie.”
Daily Beast reporter Gerald Posner reported yesterday that Simon Monjack, the much-maligned husband of Brittany Murphy, is only days away from filing a wrongful-death action against Warner Brothers, claiming that the studio is responsible for the unexpected death of the 32-year-old actress last December. Monjack reportedly told Posner, “They killed her.”
“Although the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office hasn’t released a final cause of death,” Posner writes, “Monjack and Brittany’s mother, Sharon, who also spoke to me, are convinced that the once-promising star died of a heart attack from the stress caused by Warner Brother’s canceling of a contract just two weeks before she died. Murphy was excited to have begun production on the sequel to the animated hit Happy Feet, but when she was fired by Warner Brothers, Monjack says, ‘She was devastated.'”
I’m sure she was, but Warner Bros. didn’t kill anyone. The entertainment industry can be uncaring and brutal, but any actor who gets into it not knowing how hot the kitchen can be is a flat-out fool. If you can’t stand dealing with Jeff Robinov or if the pressure is generally too much to bear, I understand. I’ll give you a hug and buy you a drink or take you out to dinner. But take responsibility for yourself.
By Monjack’s standard I should have sued my father for instilling in me a sense of low self-esteem due to his emotional aloofness and alcoholism. (Alcoholics are geniuses at screwing up their kids.) Or I could have whined about about what a prick he was in a “Daddy Dearest” book. Instead I woke up one day and said “fuck him — this is my show. I’ll make it or not make it according to my own steam. If I make it, fine. And if I don’t, it’s my fault and not his.”
Responding to Mel Gibson‘s visit with Jimmy Kimmel last night, and particularly a mock trailer for a Kimmel movie that Gibson starred in, HE reader Richard Swank sees the same instinctual insanity factor in Gibson that I’ve been commenting about for years. “How could they not cast Gibson as Moe in the Three Stooges movie? With the black wig and the comic rage, he’s about 75% there already. This was all I could think of while watching this. Mel is Moe.”
It breaks my heart to seriously consider and in fact strongly suspect that Barack Obama peaked as a campaigner, and that he just doesn’t have the guts to stand up like Harry Truman or Theodore Roosevelt and fight the big-money pigs (Republicans, corporates) who have cajoled and berated this country in a pit of special-interest slime and quicksand — a pit that fewer and fewer people believe we have any chance of digging ourselves out of.
Presidents Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy
There is no sicker joke these days that the concept of bipartisanship with Republicans, and yet Obama actually called for this in last night’s State of the Union address. He’s becoming a rank embarassment. I honestly believe he’s just about finished.
Courage is a funny thing. You can talk about it all you want, but when the moment comes you need to find it within and use it. You need to grim up and look the other guy in the face and say “that’s enough” and “back off or I will deliver consequences.” And some people just don’t have that fibre, that constitution. Either Obama feels he has to be mellow and accomodating at all costs because he can’t be an angry African-American, or he’s just naturally wimpy when it comes to the tough stuff. Either way a necessary Presidential character element just doesn’t seem to be there.
In a column last Sunday titled “After The Massachusetts Massacre,” Frank Rich compared Obama’s dealings with the avaricious corporates and their paid legislative whores to John F. Kennedy‘s response to U.S. Steel’s Roger Blough after the latter announced a $6 a ton price hike in April 1962.
“Last year [Obama] pointedly studied J.F.K.’s decision-making process on Vietnam while seeking the way forward in Afghanistan,” Rich wrote. “In the end, he didn’t emulate his predecessor and escalated the war. We’ll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, Obama might look at another pivotal moment in the Kennedy presidency — and this time heed the example.
“The incident unfolded in April 1962 — some 15 months into the new president’s term — when J.F.K. was infuriated by the U.S. Steel chairman’s decision to break a White House-brokered labor-management contract agreement and raise the price of steel (but not wages). Kennedy was no radical. He hailed from the American elite — like Obama, a product of Harvard, but, unlike Obama, the patrician scion of a wealthy family. And yet he, like that other Harvard patrician, F.D.R., had no hang-ups about battling his own class.
“Kennedy didn’t settle for the generic populist rhetoric of Obama’s latest threats to ‘fight’ unspecified bankers some indeterminate day. He instead took the strong action of dressing down U.S. Steel by name. As Richard Reeves writes in his book ‘President Kennedy,’ reporters were left ‘literally gasping.’
“The young president called out big steel for threatening ‘economic recovery and stability’ while Americans risked their lives in Southeast Asia. J.F.K. threatened to sic his brother’s Justice Department on corporate records and then held firm as his opponents likened his flex of muscle to the power grabs of Hitler and Mussolini. (Sound familiar?) U.S. Steel capitulated in two days. The Times soon reported on its front page that Kennedy was at ‘a high point in popular support.’
“Can anyone picture Obama exerting such take-no-prisoners leadership to challenge those who threaten our own economic recovery and stability at a time of deep recession and war? That we can’t is a powerful indicator of why what happened in Massachusetts will not stay in Massachusetts if this White House fails to reboot.”