Jill Clayburgh lived, I’m told, a good full life, but in terms of cultural synchronicity and being an iconic, self-defining actress who ignited her own perfect moment, she had four peak years — 1976 to ’79. Arthur Hiller‘s Silver Streak in ’76, Michael Ritchie ‘s Semi-Tough in ’77, Paul Mazursky‘s An Unmarried Woman in ’78, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Luna (a misfire) in ’79, and Alan Pakula‘s Starting Over later that same year.
Clayburgh’s feminist-icon phase had peaked with An Unmarried Woman, but it seemed to pretty much fizzle out five years later with the failure of Costa Gavras‘ Hanna K. (’83). For all intents and purposes, that was the last “Jill Clayburgh film.” She appeared and acted and certainly had a “life” after Hanna K., but not as a name actress with any exceptional expectations.
Claudia Weill‘s It’s My Turn (’80) was a minor love story (woman-in-relationship falls for Michael Douglas‘s retired baseball player, winds up jilting b.f. Charles Grodin). She played a conservative Supreme Court Justice who tangles with liberal Justice Walter Matthau in Ronald Neame‘s First Monday in October (’81), a tame little film. This was followed by I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can (’82), a valium-dependency, life-crisis drama directed by Jack Hofsis and written by David Rabe.
And then came the Hanna K. death blow. A muddled but interesting pro-Palestinian drama, it was critically panned and abruptly withdrawn from distribution by Universal, apparently due to political pressure from pro-Israeli factions. Clayburgh played an American-Jewish attorney assigned to defend a Palestinian accused of terrorism. But the plot was overshadowed by her character’s conflicting romantic entanglements, one of them with a character played by Gabriel Byrne.
It was three years before Clayburgh’s next film, a injustice melodrama titlled Where Are The Children? Her next, Andrei Konchalovsky‘s Shy People (’87), was a success d’estime costarring Barbara Hershey and Martha Plimpton. It was regarded as a worthy but minor effort, and it had the unfortunate stamp of being a Cannon release.
Clayburgh played a distinctive eccentric in the commercial flop Running With Scissors (’06), and has a too-small role as Jake Gyllenhaal‘s mom (and George Segal‘s wife) in the about-to-open Love and Other Drugs.
The critics [who’ve] pummeled Love & Other Drugs “were not really watching the movie they were being shown, but were too busy finding a way to disconnect emotionally from a surprisingly emotional film,” MCN’s David Poland has written. “It isn’t a Viagra sex comedy. It’s Love Story and Sweet November combined with a Viagra sex comedy.
“I got a very strong feeling that [director] Ed Zwick and [producer, co-wriiter] Marshall Herskovitz were going back to the work that they didn’t quite hit out of the park in adapting David Mamet‘s Sexual Perversity in Chicago as About Last Night.
“Here, they get a lot of the raunchiness of Mamet, but in combination with a big melodramatic story that is, by its nature, very close to crossing the line into male-unwatchable mush…and they overcome the obstacles.
“And it’s not, as some would position it, just because we spend a lot of first act time with Anne Hathaway‘s naked body splayed across the screen. It’s because of very smart writing and a truly award-worthy performance by Hathaway. This kind of part has eaten up some really talented actresses over the years and Hathaway just grabs the whole thing by the balls, makes very decisive acting choices, and pulls rabbits out of her hat through the whole movie.
“The only reason Love & Other Drugs isn’t a truly great film is the problem of Jake Gyllenhaal, an actor who I adored when he was younger and who has me more and more perplexed over time. On paper, he is a great choice. Young, dumb, and full of cum. But he needs to evolve in this story. And while he does okay with the role, you just never get the kind of light out of him that seeps out of Hathaway’s every pore.
“I’m not saying this is a perfect film. It’s not. But it is a daring, challenging piece, and deserves to be seriously considered for all of its strengths, as well as the weaknesses. And when I look at Gurus and see that Hathaway has fallen completely off the chart, that’s a shame, because she glides through it with great assurance, no doubt supported by a strong director who helped her push and keep those boundaries.
From my 10.30 review: “It’s not Alexander the Great. It just works, is all. LOAD has charm and pizazz and, okay, sometimes strained humor, and yet it never slows down or goes off the rails, or at least not to any worrisome degree.
“Certain people might get pissy about it. A guy I talked to in the men’s room after the screening was going “eeew, it’s two different movies…eeew, it doesn’t blend…eeew, it veers too sharply between broad comedy and disease-anguish and hot sexuality and heartfelt love and heavy emotionalism.
“LAOD isn’t any one thing, and that’s the fascination of it. It’s not dark enough to be The Apartment, it’s not easy and it’s not ‘farce’ and it’s not just hah-hah funny, and it’s not dramedy as much as comedy with a thorny and guarded edge. The tone is farcical one minute, dry and glib the next, and then it devolves into Josh Gad-Jonah Hill-level humor, but thankfully not too often or for too long. And then it turns melancholy.”
Tom O’Neil‘s brand-new version of GoldDerby.com is up, live and running, and containing a new poll of likely Oscar winners from 11 pundits (including yours truly). But disagreement exists between the “Oscar experts” and site’s editors (i.e., O’Neil and four other guys) about the most likely Best Picture winner.
The pundits are saying that The Social Network will win but O’Neil & Co. are saying no — it’ll be The King’s Speech. This is war!
But for me the biggest puzzle lies in the Best Supporting Actress category. Most of the pundits have picked The Fighter‘s Melissa Leo to win even though no one has seen David O. Russell‘s film. (The first Manhattan screening is happening on Thursday, Nov. 11th.) They’ve also picked Helena Bonham Carter performance in The Kings Speech as the second most likely to win, and she’s only pretty good, trust me — there’s nothing in her performance to make anyone swoon or drop to their knees. She does a fine, sturdy job but that’s all.
And then comes Rabbit Hole‘s Dianne Weist in third place and Made in Dagenham‘s Miranda Richardson in fourth — and again, neither performance is really all that stupendous. The only performance that’s really and truly award-worthy is Jacki Weaver‘s crocodile-smile grandmother in Animal Kingdom.
And relatively few have gotten behind Rosamund Pike, who gives the best performance by far in both Made in Dagenham and Barney’s Version. What’s that about, pundits? And as long as we’re voting for performances we haven’t seen, what about Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit? And what two that we have seen — i.e., Barbara Hershey in Black Swan and Sissy Spacek in Get Low?
The reason that TV news reporters and commentators aren’t permitted to donate money to political candidates, I gather, is because this would shatter whatever image of fairness and neutrality they might otherwise have. What is that, a joke? Who cares about this when it comes to the on-air staffs of the ultra-liberal MSNBC and ultra-conservative Fox News? Who in the world presumes that anyone on either team is the least bit neutral?
Would anyone care at all if it came out, say, that Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly had given money to a right-wing candidate? These guys are presumed to be in the tank for the right — their partisanship is the reason they have followers — so what does it matter? Why can’t news people privately support whomever they want to privately support? Chet Huntley and David Brinkley are no longer co-hosting the NBC Nightly News.
With a recent report suggesting that Jodie Foster‘s The Beaver might be released straight to DVD (or not), Digital Spy‘s Simon Reynolds wrote early this morning that the Mel Gibson comedy (which reportedly will end in a way that’s strikingly similar to 127 Hours) will open in England on February 11th.
Which means that long-lead British critics will get to see it in screenings in late December, or certainly in early January. Which means that In Contention‘s Guy Lodge will have a jump on U.S. critics, for sure, unless Summit lets U.S. critics see it concurrently….not likely!
E! Online says that The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson in the lead role and Foster as his wife, has run into a series of problems, including distributor Summit failing to set a release date for the movie.
A source said: “It’s going straight to DVD. I heard it from Jodie.”
However, an insider at Summit reportedly insisted that the company is still planning a feature film release, which is likely to happen in 2011.
Gibson, who has recently faced speculation about his private life, last month had a cameo in next year’s Hangover 2 axed after protests amongst the rest of the film’s staff.
Last night I caught a Brooklyn Academy of Music screening of Anthony Arnove‘s The People Speak, a 2009 doc that uses the main lessons of Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States in order to illustrate, dramatize and musically entertain.
(l. to r.) Allison Moorer, Staceyann Chin, Anthony Arnove, David Strathairn
The People Speak is basically a parade of earnest showbiz lefties reading passages from Zinn’s book and occasionally performing songs that pertain to its themes. It was mainly shot in front of an audience at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre in January 2008, and then later at the Malibu Performing Arts Center for a Bob Dylan music sequence.
Besides Dylan, Chin and Moorer the performing roster includes Benjamin Bratt, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, David Strathairn, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O’Malley, Morgan Freeman, Pink, Q’orianka Kilcher, Rich Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Sean Penn and Viggo Mortensen.
There are only three or four primary points in Zinn’s book, to wit: (a) all rights have to be fought for, (b) politicians will always resist change and go along with the bidding of the wealthy unless otherwise persuaded, (c) social justice is never gently bequeathed or easily accomplished — it always results from a difficult and protracted struggle, and (d) more often than not the super-wealthy have done what they could to subjugate their social lessers and make life difficult for them in this and that way (and therefore that George H.W. Bush‘s “thousand points of light” myth is basically a crock).
Yesterday I did a brief phoner with Blue Valentine star Michelle Williams. For my money she and Ryan Gosling give honest, open and close-to-brilliant performances in Derek Cianfrance‘s hip-pocket drama, which I wasn’t entirely in love with at Sundance but which I did a kind of turn-around on when I saw a re-cut version at last month’s Hamptons Film Festival. The John Cassevetes aroma sank in more deeply.
I still find Gosling’s mannerisms and constant smoking irksome (especially when he’s carrying his daughter), but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I realized last month that he’s modelled his performance on an imitation of Derek Cianfrance — not just the hairline but the accent and vocal mannerisms. For some reason that changed my whole viewpoint.
For some reason I felt it might be slightly more interesting to “shoot” the conversation with video than just provide an mp3.
We got into the ridiculous Blue Valentine NC-17 rating issue, talked a little about the making of the film and the motivations of the characters, and then wound things up with a brief chat about Heath Ledger, who was always friendly and considerate to me, and who first introduced me to Michelle five years ago, at a Toronto Film Festival party for Brokeback Mountain.
Williams was calling from London where she’s shooting Simon Curtis‘s My Week With Marilyn, a film about the somewhat contentious relationship between Marilyn Monroe (whom she portrays) and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The Weinstein Co. will distribute.
I reviewed my impression of Blue Valentine‘s “hotel sex scene” that reportedly caused the NC-17 rating. The scene is “just about what happens in a marriage,” I said. “We all know what it is to watch a film break the boundaries of sexual depiction, and this sure doesn’t qualify. It’s just a portrait of a disintegrating relationship.”
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in the currently filming My Week With Marilyn
Williams agreed and said, “We never set out to scandalize or titillate or upset anyone’s moral sense. We just wanted to be as honest as we possibly could…so it was a real shock when this rating happened, which suggested there was something tawdry about it. This is not a movie that sells or glorifies sex in any way.”
Blue Valentine portrays two stages of a marriage — the hopeful and glowing beginning and the depressing and downbeat finale. We reviewed the reasons why her character has fallen out of love with Gosling’s character.
“The most obvious bone that she can pick with him, yeah, is, ‘why don’t you want to do something more?,” she said. “Along with…it’s kind of a loss of his magical quality. It shouldn’t come as a surprise and it doesn’t, but when you first fall in love with somebody, how many things do you ignore?” A lot, I said.
“You’re in a fairy tale and he’s a knight in shining armor, and so you ignore things that you don’t want to see and which don’t fit into your vision….or you’re saying he’ll grow out of that or that he has some other qualities that make up for it. I think the person she really can’t stand in their relationship any more is herself…it’s her.”
I astonished myself by momentarily forgetting the name of her “covered wagon movie,” as I put it. It’s called Meek’s Cutoff, and no one will ever remember that title.
I wasn’t going to bring up the subject of her late husband, whom I “knew” slightly from a certain distance. But when I mentioned his name she asked me if I’d known him to any degree and so I just walked in with my recollections.
Twice over the last two years I’ve felt it necessary to rid Hollywood Elsewhere of the loons — i.e., the intemperate thinkers and ignorance-spreading extremists. Honest debate is obviously vital and necessary, but people who deliberately spread gross untruths are being removed. Call it a reaction to the midterms and being enraged by mainstream media lies about what’s really happening in this country (a situation that was brilliantly explained by Bill Moyers a few days ago), but I’m feeling a primal urge to flush out the more obnoxious righties.
Two conservatives (Travis Crabtree and Thunderballs) got the boot within the last 12 hours. Moyers and the late Howard Zinn are two of my personal heroes, and the afore-mentioned commenters assaulted their reps with cheap, ludicrous rightwing mythology, and that’s why they’re gone.
Crabtree wrote that “you don’t get any pinker” — socialist, Communist-leaning, vaguely subversive — “than Bill Moyers or Howard Zinn.” Moyers’ reputation is beyond reproach. Zinn, who died last January, actually did believe in a form of socialist philosophy, but one based upon an understanding that the rich and powerful will always attempt to suppress and manipulate the less rich and less powerful, and that a good government will always strive to redress this imbalance. And I won’t allow rightwing hammers to push the totally discredited idea that free-market selfishness is the only acceptable U.S. theology.
Differing opinion is the lifeblood of any comment forum, but accusing this or that learned person of being “pink” is odious and belligerent, and I simply won’t tolerate that kind of poison. The 1950s philosophies of John Wayne are dead, or will certainly be smothered ’round these parts.
Thunderballs said that Zinn “is no different than Glenn Beck” and “the fact that Zinn is actually taught in schools is horrifying.” To equate Beck’s hysterical, ignorance-pandering ravings to Zinn, a left-wing professor and social historian who wrote one of the most influential and widely respected counter-history books in the history of this country is just sickening. It’s way beyond the pale.
For whatever reason HE house-cleanings tend to happen in the early fall. The first “Stalinist Purge” happened on 8.30.08, and the second one (directed more at snarky slapdash writing than the the Fox News brigade) happened on 9.6.09.
I am actively looking for others to remove. Those who object to guys like Travis Crabtree and Thunderballs being banned from this site are urged to consider leaving of their own volition — please. The knives are out and, as I put it two years ago, “the house is being tented and the bugs will be killed.
“Interesting, thoughtful, well-phrased opinions of any kind are eternally welcome here. But the uglies, mark my words, are getting the boot.
“I believe in beauty, redemption, catharsis and the daily cleansing of the soul. I live for the highs of the mind — for the next nervy retort, impertinent crack, witty turn of phrase, turnaround idea or wicked joke. And I know — we all know — that blunt-gruff reactions and persistent ideological ranting works against the flow of such things.
“I will not permit the infinite array of reflections about life, movies and politics that could and should appear on Hollywood Elsewhere to be suppressed or pushed aside by the relentless hammerhead barking of a small cadre of ideological Mussolinis, tough guys, hardballers and friends of Bill O’Reilly.”
“These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one.” — Clemenza to Michael Corleone in Francis Coppola‘s The Godfather (1972).
The independent voters who voted against the the last two years on Tuesday were and are children — little people feeding off emotion (i.e., lethargy) and unconcerned with hard facts. Because “no matter your view of President Obama, he effectively saved capitalism,” N.Y. Times columnist Timothy Egan pointed out on 11.2. “And for that, he paid a terrible political price.”
It was Obama’s fault, yes, that he and his spokespersons failed to convey pertinent facts. You can’t expect children to engage themselves, buckle down and seek out facts — they have to be told and shown. But facts are still facts.
“The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve. It worked. The government is expected to break even on a risky bet to stabilize the global free market system. Had Obama followed the populist instincts of many in his party, the underpinnings of big capitalism could have collapsed. He did this without nationalizing banks, as other Democrats had urged.
“Saving the American auto industry, which has been a huge drag on Obama’s political capital, is a monumental achievement that few appreciate, unless you live in Michigan. After getting their taxpayer lifeline from Obama, both General Motors and Chrysler are now making money by making cars. New plants are even scheduled to open. More than 1 million jobs would have disappeared had the domestic auto sector been liquidated.
“Yes, an industry was saved, and the government will probably make money on the deal — one of Obama’s signature economic successes.
“Interest rates are at record lows. Corporate profits are lighting up boardrooms; it is one of the best years for earnings in a decade.
“All of the above is good for capitalism, and should end any serious-minded discussion about Obama the socialist. But more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday.
“Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.
Nobody gets credit for preventing a plane crash. ‘It could have been much worse!’ is not a rallying cry. And, more telling, despite a meager uptick in job growth this year, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent in the month Obama took office to 9.6 today.
“Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs.
“Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama, as a senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must — or risk further meltdown. Their response was to give themselves $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republicans this year.
“President Franklin Roosevelt also saved capitalism, in part by a bank ‘holiday’ in 1933, at a time when the free enterprise system had failed. Unlike Obama, he was rewarded with midterm gains for his own party because a majority liked where he was taking the country. The bank holiday was incidental to a larger public works campaign.
“Obama can recast himself as the consumer’s best friend, and welcome the animus of Wall Street. He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers. For those who do hire, and create new jobs, he can offer tax incentives. He should finger the financial giants for refusing to clean up their own mess in the foreclosure crisis. He should point to the long overdue protections for credit card holders that came with reform.
“And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives – insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.
“They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.”