Moving Image Source guys Matt Zoller Seitz and Aaron Aradillas have assembled a brief video tribute (sans narration) to the legendary opening credit sequence in David Fincher‘s Se7en (1995). At the very end they give credit to Kyle Cooper for having designed the sequence, presumably in collaboration with Fincher. But why do they go on and on about Fincher in their intro, as if it was primarily his idea? I’m honestly confused.
Success has 100 fathers, and failure is an orphan.
I’m relatively comfortable with this Ranker.com piece called “The 7 Most Annoying Kids in Action Movie History ” because I agree with 83.3% of it — simple. Except I’d put The Phantom Menace‘s Jake Lloyd at the top of the roster. The list includes Edward Furlong in Terminator 2, Jonathan Ke Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards in Jurassic Park, the wussy Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter films, Shia LeBeouf as Mutt in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds. (Fanning is quite good, however, in Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire.)
My disagreement, of course, is in Ranker thinking about LeBeouf as a kid — he’s been a young dude all along.
For what it’s worth, the Hollywood Stock Exchange forum has posted MTC (Major Theatre Chain) tracking figures and they’re forecasting a $28 million opening for The Social Network (Sony, 10.1). MTC numbers “come from some mysterious source within a major theater chain,” I’m told, “and are usually pretty accurate.” So yesterday’s projection of $26 million from Boxoffice.com was within the same estimated realm. The figures will be honed on Wednesday and Thursday once everyone factors in online ticket sales and yaddah-yaddah.
A 21-gun salute to CNN’s Anderson Cooper for telling North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Renee Ellmers, an ignorance-baiting opportunist, that one of her remarks about the Ground Zero mosque situation “is the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you.” Ellmers has run a TV ad that deliberately blurs the line between Muslims and terrorists. Is there any way I can avoid calling this woman other bad names?
I know a Beverly Hills woman (now living in Malibu) who has the same drawl and the same inclinations toward intellectual laziness, the same tendency to ignore facts and default to preconceptions that suit her rightist agenda. Her voice has almost the exact same pitch and timbre — it’s eerie.
The Social Network “is absolutely emblematic of its time and place. It is shrewdly perceptive about such things as class, manners, ethics, and the emptying out of self that accompanies a genius’s absorption in his work. It rushes through a coruscating series of exhilarations and desolations, triumphs and betrayals, and ends with what feels like darkness closing in on an isolated soul. And it has the hard-charging excitement of a very recent revolution, the surge and sweep of big money moving fast and chewing people up in its wake.” — from David Denby‘s lengthy but exhilarating review in the 10.4.10 New Yorker.
Roman Coppola directed this New Yorker iPad app promo featuring the whimsical Jason Schwartzman, but the attitude is pure Wes. I just went to find the app on my iPhone and it’s not there — I found only a New Yorker cartoon app and a New Yorker Festival app. Not right, not fair, not kosher, not cool. But the spot’s cool.
One of the nicest dreams ever offered by Hollywood is that death frees you. Not just from having to grapple in a tough, cruel world but, if you pass in your 80s or 90s, from a body that’s been sinking into physical decline. Death means you can be a kid again. This, at least, is a fantasy I considered when my father went a couple of years ago, and it’s what I’m thinking now that Titanic star Gloria Stuart has passed at age 100.
Jim Cameron was obviously charmed by the youth-regression idea — he used it for the finale of Titanic. The Four Poster, a 1952 romantic film with Rex Harrison and Lili Palmer, also went there. I haven’t seen it since the late ’70s, but Harrison and Palmer escape their wrinkled and withered bodies when they push off, and are free to be young lovers again.
About 12 hours ago Cinema Blend‘s Katey Rich tweeted about two films “ending with overly literal Beatles songs” — the most recent episode of Mad Men, which ends with an instrumental of “Do You Want To Know A Secret?,” and The Social Network, which ends with “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.”
The latter is kind of a weird song because it says two diverse things. The chorus makes fun of people with scads of dough but don’t have much of a life (“keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo / what a thing to do”) but the verses allude to spiritual satori as a source of immense wealth of another kind, hence the last chorus line “baby, you’re a rich man too.”
Most of the song is about a questioner asking a certain guy where’s he travelled inside his head, and what it’s like to know enlightenment. “And have you travelled very far? / Far as the eye can see / How often have you been there? / Often enough to know / What did you see when you were there? / Nothing that doesn’t show.” You could also say that these lyrics describe the adventures of a guy who’s gone off on his own and found something novel and head-turning — a guy, you could argue, who’s a bit like Jesse Eisenberg‘s Mark Zuckerberg. Not in a spiritual sense, of course, but in the realm of being an intellectual pathfinder and/or finder of treasure.
All to say that Rich, usually a sharp observer, has considered only the song’s title and hasn’t really settled into the lyrics.
Incidentally: it was reported in Bob Spitz‘s The Beatles that as the chorus is repeated at the end of the song, John Lennon sings “baby, you’re a rich fag Jew,” an allusion to Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, who was Jewish and a closeted homosexual. That sounds like Lennon’s cruel humor, all right, but I’ve listened to the song four times this morning and I don’t hear it.
Wait a minute, c’mon…the guy who owns Segway (James Heselden) goes off a cliff while riding on a Segway and plunges into a river, killing himself? This actually happened?
This is the kind of comically absurd death that Blake Edwards might have invented for one of his ’60s or ’70s farces. It would have fit right into J. Lee Thompson‘s What A Way To Go!, which is about four guys who die “comically” (Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly) after marrying Shirley MacLaine, who carries some kind of black-widow, rotten-luck curse.
What A Way To Go! was one of those glossy, brazenly shallow and grossly unfunny big-studio comedies that were built around MacLaine’s popularity in the wake of Irma La Douce. But I’ll bet men in pubs all over England right now are chuckling (or at least shaking their heads and grinning) about Heselden’s death. If his death has been videotaped it would have been ghastly to watch, but thinking about it as an abstraction — a bit that might have been used in a Laurel & Hardy two-reeler — is somehow funny.
The trick in making death seem “funny” is to keep the particulars vague and emphasize the random bad luck that goes into suddenly being killed — its inevitability, illogic, lack of fairness.
There’s a moment in John Frankenheimer‘s The Train when a bespectacled German sergeant wakes up from a nap in a caboose on a stalled Germany-bound train, opens up the rear door and sees another train heading right for him. He barely has time to react before the crash totally decimates the caboose . Why is this funny? Because of the precise timing of the cutting and the fact that we don’t see the sergeant suffer.
There’s another moment in Mike Nichols‘ Day of the Dolphin when a dolphin plants a magnetized bomb on the hull of a large yacht carrying a group of scheming bad guys. Cut to a shot of them sitting around a poker table. One of the baddies — a young dolphin trainer who has betrayed his colleagues — hears a sound, gets up, goes to a porthole and sees the dolphin swimming away. He puts two and two together, goes “oh, shit” and BLAM! It’s funny because of the editing, and the way the actor delivers the “oh, shit” line. If it hadn’t been done just so it wouldn’t have worked.
Olivier Assayas‘ Carlos (IFC films, 1o.15 — 10.20 On Demand) is “a fascinating, never-boring, you-are-there masterwork of a certain type,” I wrote during last May’s Cannes Film Festival. “Not exactly a levitational thing and more in the realm of a long triple than a home run, but exquisitely done in so many small and great and side-pocket ways that there’s really no choice but to take your hat off and say ‘sure, yes, of course.’
“This is a politically crackling, intrigue-filled saga of Carlos the Jackal (a.k.a, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez) with a no-bullshit, this-is-what-it-was, rock-solid authority in every line and scene and performance — no Hollywood crap of any kind, no comic relief and nothing artificially heightened. And it boasts a riveting, never-alienating but never-sympathetic lead performance by Edgar Ramirez, whom I know from relatively recent roles in Che and The Bourne Ultimatum (in which he played a bad guy who cut Matt Damon a break at the end).
“It’s essentially a portrait of a hard-charging, true-believing, very impressive type-A asshole who loved guns and blowjobs and Marlboros and being forceful and committed, and who enjoyed a kind of haunted celebrity for a few years during the 1970s when anti-capitalist revolution and terror were in fashion, at least in some overseas circles.
“Carlos doesn’t exactly throb with emotional poignancy or resonance, or deliver what you might call a ground-level universal theme. All it ‘says,’ really, is the same thing that any film about a terrorist or a gangster says, which is basically “live hard, burn brightly and enjoy the passion and thrills while you can, pal, because you’re looking at an early death or being sentenced to a very long jail term before you hit middle-age.’
“But then it’s hardly fair to expect this kind of film — an exacting, fact-based account of the life and times of a fierce and somewhat chilly sociopath who doesn’t laugh or smile much or pet kittens or make friends with homeless children — to swim in streams of emotionality or meditation, even. Like Che, Carlos is simply about ‘being there’ and believing everything you hear and see, although it delivers much more in the way of urgency and tension and thrills that Steven Soderbergh’s film did. It occasionally settles down for brief periods, but it never drops the ball.”