Every now and then I search around for photos of splendorific Times Square marquees from the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. And I never find much. There have to be collectors out there who have shots of big-time marquees ballyhooing famous films. I’m looking for sites I haven’t discovered, scans of privately-owned stills…anything. Color is preferable but I’ll take what I can get — thanks.
As I write this, the House of Representatives is enacting President Obama‘s watered-down, barely-worth-the-name health care legislation with no single-payer and no public option. It’s 11:07 pm, and the favoring vote tally just went over 216. Better than nothing and fine as far as it goes, but more than a bit of a letdown for some of us.
“This is about as interesting as it gets in politics,” MSNBC commentator Ed Schultz has just said. “The Democrats now own — lock, stock, and barrel — health care reform in America.”
“Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans,” the N.Y. Times story says, “and remake the nation’s health care system along the lines proposed by President Obama.
“Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan said that anti-abortion Democrats were satisfied with a proposed executive order “to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services.”
“By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.
“Democrats hailed the vote as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step forward in social justice. ‘This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,’ said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.”
Two days ago I wrote that seeing a film that was shot 18 months or two years ago can sometimes result (in your mind at least) in a slightly dated feeling — a hard-to-define sense of diminishment due to the film having passed its peak potency in terms of relating to the here-and-now. The case in point was an Australian thriller called The Square (Apparition, 4.9).
Lbs., a very decently written, affectingly performed little indie drama about fighting food addiction from director Matthew Bonifacio and co-writer/star Carmine Famiglietti that — get this — began principal photography in June 2001 and then played at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
The how and why of this absurd delay is explained in a section of the film’s website called “The Road To Release,” but Lbs. (a not-very-catchy title due to the abbreviation — it should been called Pounds or Fatass, even) may be the oldest indie film to ever open theatrically as a purportedly new release.
And yet, oddly, it doesn’t feel at all “dated.” Lbs. has its shaggy aspects, but there’s no denying that it has a well-honed, disarmingly honest, straight-from-the-shoulder quality. You watch and start to gradually sink into it, and you stop feeling like a smart-ass nitpicker and being bothered by time factors and whatnot.
Lbs. is about a dangerously overweight Brooklyn guy of only 27 years (Famiglietti) hitting rock bottom in terms of self-disgust and low self-esteem, and deciding to really and finally get rid of the tonnage. His method is to isolate himself from temptation by living in a crummy trailer in upstate New York and somehow discipline and bring himself along on a day-by-day, take-the-pain basis and drop 100 pounds or so.
There’s a married-girlfriend character of sorts (Miriam Shore) and a drug-addicted pally (Michael Aronov) and a villain — i.e., his food-pushing mom (Susan Varon). And there’s also a very strong performance from Lou Martini, Jr., as the groom of Famiglietti’s older sister.
A week or so ago a director-producer friend urged me to see Lbs.. He sent me a disc that arrived early last week, but I put off watching it for a few days. I finally popped it in last night, and this morning wrote the friend the following e-mail: “Not half bad. A well-acted, emotionally sincere, Italian blue-collar drama about addictions, honor, family values, and loving enablers.
“I would actually call it better than decent. It reminded me at times of Two Family House — remember that one? — and aspects of Paddy Chayefsky‘s Marty, even.”
I added that I didn’t believe that Shore’s character would be as forwardly matter-of-fact as she is in the film about wanting intimate relations with Famiglietti. I would have bought it if (a) she had been older (in her 40s, say) and indicated that she was deathly bored and in need of some random warmth, or (b) if she had confessed to having a fetish for big guys. We all know about male chubby chasers, but do women swing that way? I’ve never heard of this.
I think it may be somewhat meaningful for someone like myself, having written over and over (probably too many times) about deeply despising morbidly obese people, or more precisely the metaphor of obesity, responding to a film with this storyline. I think it speaks well to the film’s strengths.
Lbs. finally opens this Friday, and only in Manhattan yet. It should at least play Los Angeles before going off to video.
The figures are in and the top six weekend earners are Alice in Wonderland ($34,125,000 for a cume of $265,369,000), a distant-second Diary of a Wimpy Kid ($22,270,000), The Bounty Hunter ($20,785,000), Green Zone ($6,110,000), She’s Out Of My League ($6,015,000) and Repo Men ($5,900,000).
David Carr‘s review of Jules Feiffer’s “Backing Into Forward: A Memoir” gives me an excuse to re-post that Donald Sutherland sermon scene from Little Murders, the 1971 film that Feiffer adapted for the screen from his own play. My initial posting was two years ago.