A 4.5 Sydney Morning Herald story has re-reported that Steven Soderbergh has shot and assembled The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg, “an entertaining comedy — laugh-out-loud funny at times — about a theatre company staging Chekhov’s Three Sisters.” He did it as a side project while directing the Sydney Theatre Company play Tot Mom. The first report was posted on 1.6.10.
That Red Letter Media guy with the growly, lazy-tongue, consonant-swallowing voice who posted that Phantom Menace-destroying video critique on 12.10.09 has posted a new one — this time eviscerating Attack of the Clones. You’re not a man if you don’t hate George Lucas.
Chris Nolan‘s Inception (Warner Bros., 7.16) “may be Hollywood’s first existential heist movie,” reports L.A. Times profiler Geoff Boucher in a 4.4 set-visit piece. “And though that may not sound like typical fare for the air-conditioning months, Warners and Legendary Pictures are banking on the movie catching on as a brainy Mission: Impossible by way of The Matrix.
“The globe-trotting movie may have had its subconscious baggage packed by Sigmund Freud, in other words, but it also carries a passport stamped by Ian Fleming. DiCaprio says Nolan is the perfect director to turn that unlikely combination into a July hit.
“‘Complex and ambiguous are the perfect way to describe the story,’ DiCaprio said in a recent phone interview. ‘And it’s going to be a challenge to ultimately pull it off. But that is what Chris Nolan specializes in. He has been able to convey really complex narratives that work on a multitude of different layers simultaneously to an audience and make it entertaining and engaging throughout.
“You look at Insomnia or Memento, these movies are working on so many different levels. That’s his expertise; it’s what he does best, as a matter of fact.”
As I said a few weeks ago, if Inception pays off even half as well as people are hoping it might it’s an automatic Best Picture contender, in part as a make-up for the Dark Knight snub.
“Not since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama‘s in the aftermath of his health care victory,” writes N.Y. Times columnist Frank Rich. “‘He went from Jimmy Carter to F.D.R. in just a fortnight,’ said one of the Game Change authors, Mark Halperin, on MSNBC. ‘Look at the steam in the man’s stride!’ exclaimed Chris Matthews. ‘Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed?’ wrote Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, which, like The Financial Times, ran an illustration portraying the gangly president as a newly bulked-up Superman.
“What a difference winning makes — especially in America. Whatever did (or didn’t) get into Obama’s Wheaties, this much is certain: No one is talking about the clout of Scott Brown or Rahm Emanuel any more.
“But has the man really changed — or is it just us? Fifteen months after arriving at the White House, Obama remains by far the most popular national politician in the country, even with a sub-50 percent approval rating. And yet he’s also the most enigmatic. While he is in our face more than any other figure in the world, we still aren’t entirely sure what to make of him.
“Depending on where you stand — or the given day — he is either an overintellectual, professorial wuss or a ruthless Chicago machine pol rivaling the original Boss Daley. He is either a socialist redistributing wealth to the undeserving poor or a tool of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs elite. He is a terrorist-coddling, A.C.L.U.-tilting lawyer or a closet Cheneyite upholding the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s end run on the Constitution. He is a lightweight celebrity who’s clueless without a teleprompter or a Machiavellian mastermind who has ingeniously forged his Hawaiian birth certificate, covered up his ties to Islamic radicals and bamboozled the entire mainstream press.
“He is the reincarnation of J.F.K., L.B.J., F.D.R., Reagan, Hitler, Stalin, Adlai Stevenson or Nelson Mandela. (Funny how few people compared George W. Bush to anyone but Hitler and his parents.)
“No wonder that eight major new Obama books are arriving in the coming months, as Howard Kurtz reported in The Washington Post last week. And that’s just counting those by real authors, like Bob Woodward and Jonathan Alter, not the countless anti-Obama diatribes. There’s a bottomless market for these volumes not just because their protagonist remains popular but also because we keep hoping that the Obama puzzle might be cracked once and for all, like the Da Vinci Code.”
I’m not saying George Orwell didn’t know whereof he spoke. I’m saying I’m still working on the equation as it applies to 21st Century America. I suppose that the 1950s Ozzie and Harriet mostly-white America that the Tea Baggers (and certain conservatives) want to somehow resuscitate is a sentimental notion. Pic snapped in a kitchen last night at a party thrown for Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar.
Friday, 4.2, 8:15 pm.
Breaking Upwards costars Julie White, Andrea Martin, and co-writer/costar Zoe Lister-Jones — a shot I meant to run two days ago.
Is West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin looking to turn the John Edwards sex scandal into a movie?,” Daily News columnists George Rush and Joanna Molloy have written. “We hear Sorkin is among those talking with William Morris Endeavor uberagent Ari Emanuel about optioning The Politician, the best-selling memoir by former Edwards aide Andrew Young. Reps for Sorkin and Emanuel didn’t get back to us. Young says: ‘I’ve heard a lot of strong names. I’d be honored if Aaron Sorkin is one of them.'”
What was shocking or envelope-pushing three or four decades ago isn’t any more, or so we tend to think. But imagine this scene in a 2010 remake of Ken Russell‘s Women in Love with, let’s say, George Clooney and Matt Damon. Or with Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. Difficult, isn’t it?
The scene is fascinating, I feel, for the way it skirts the edge of homoeroticism without ever quite going there, but in today’s climate would it even be shot? Would a producer, I mean, be able to fund a remake? You know that today’s Eloi would stampede in the opposite direction of any period adaptation of a D.H Lawrence novel. I know, I know — D.H. who?
More particularly would Clooney-Damon or DiCaprio-Depp even perform it? I wonder. If they did (and if the film turned out as well as Russell’s) this scene would be a bit of a “holy shit!” moment for a lot of people out there. Or would it? I’m mentioning this because the wrestling scene — famous in its time — has been largely forgotten, certainly among the 35-and unders (if they even knew of it in the first place). As has Women in Love itself, I suspect.
Apologies for this clip — it’s been idiotically layered with a ridiculous music track and the genitalia of Oliver Reed and Alan Bates have been CG’ed into a blur. Russell shot this scene straight on.
An early reviewer of Lawrence’s “Women in Love,” published in 1920, reportedly wrote, “I do not claim to be a literary critic, but I know dirt when I smell it, and here is dirt in heaps — festering, putrid heaps which smell to high Heaven.”
I was joshing the other day about the blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter resembling Yeshua of Nazareth in Nicholas Ray‘s King of Kings. My point was that as theatrically phony and prettied-up as Hunter was, he fit the conventional white-bread Episcopalian image of the man. So he passed muster in a way that Leonardo DiCaprio-as-J. Edgar Hoover emphatically doesn’t.
The most temperamentally genuine J.C., I suspect, was portrayed by Enrique Irazoqui in Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s The Gospel According to St. Matthew. My all-time fave will always be Willem Dafoe in Martin Scorsese‘s The Last Temptation of Christ. The all-time worst is Max Von Sydow in George Stevens‘ repulsively phony The Greatest Story Ever Told, which imagined Judea as an almost totally barren land made of rock and sand (and located in Utah).
Why did BBC guy Stephen Robb post a 50th anniversary piece on Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (“How Psycho Changed Cinema“) on 4.1.10 when the film opened during the summer of 1960 — in Manhattan on 6.16, in England on 8.4, and in Los Angeles on 8.10? Not a huge deal but why not at least wait until June?
It’s probably impossible for 21st Century horror fans to understand what an astonishing jolt Psycho was to the complacent and certainly constipated middle-class American movie culture of 1960. Back then a shot of a toilet had reportedly never been seen in a film, much less footage of a toilet being flushed. (Heavens!) But I’m pretty much tapped on this film, to be honest. Too much has been written and commonly digested for anything new to be said.
It’s just a movie, as Hitchcock might have said, and not the Arc of the Covenant. Shot with for a price with a TV crew, and much of it on the Universal back lot, and with John Gavin‘s stiff acting mucking things here and there.
I can only savor Psycho now for (a) the wonderful visual economy in the story-telling, (b) elements containing those creepy allusions and intimations of horrible stuff to come, and (c) the way the dialogue in the parlor-snack scene between Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins specifically forecasts the entire last-twelve-minute payoff.
My favorite Psycho moments:
(a) The last frames of that final shot of Tony Perkins when his mother’s rotted skull and teeth begin to blend in. Shown for only an instant — that’s the charm of it.
(b) The look on California Charlie’s face when Janet Leigh agrees to pay $700 plus her 1956 Ford in a trade-in for a slightly newer used car.
Original Psycho set on Universal back lot. (Snap taken in 2009.)
(c) That long shot, taken from the POV of a rain-dampened Leigh, of a silhouetted Perkins walking in front of a second-floor bedroom window, “playing” his mother in a dress with a cheap wig. First-timers don’t know what they’re seeing, but the shot is quite creepy if you’re back for seconds.
(d) “You know what I think? I think that we’re all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.” (If this isn’t a dead-on description of the psychology of Glenn Beck, I don’t know what.)
(e) The shot of the ragged stuffed bunny on the bed, and the close-up of the 78 rpm of Beethoven’s “Eroica.”
(f) Martin Balsam‘s scene with Perkins in the motel office, and the way he gently prods at Perkins’ easy-to-spot fibbing. “Wanna check the picture again?” “Look, I wasn’t lying to you, mister. It’s just…” “Oh, I know, I know!”
(g) “Periwinkle blue.”
(h) “Now, that’s not buying happiness. That’s buying off unhappiness. Are, uh…are you unhappy?”
(i) “Run out and eat it.”
(j) “I couldn’t do that. Who would look after her? She’d be alone up there. The fire would go out. Cold and damp like a grave. If you love someone, you don’t do that to them, even if you hate them. People always call a madhouse ‘some place.’ Put her ‘in some place.’ Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing and the tears, and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? But…but she’s harmless! She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.”
Whatever happened to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the making-of-Psycho feature that Ryan Murphy was supposed to direct with Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock? Obviously delayed if not shit-canned, but I wonder why. I still have my copy of John J. McLaughlin‘s script, which is dated 6.16.06.
As I mentioned in a 3.18 Eat Pray Love piece, it took Murphy “three years to get out of movie jail after Running With Scissors,” so I’m guessing it was at least partially Scissors that pushed the Hitchcock project into the swamp. Too bad. Hopkins would have been good.
At least there’s Chase Palmer‘s Number 13, that currently shooting British production about young Alfred (played by Dan Fogler, for God’s sake) making his unfinished first film, Number Thirteen, in 1922 while “getting caught up in a Hitchcockian dilemma when he ends up in a love triangle with two crew members while making the film,” etc.