For some curious reason a few British newspapers have recently revisited an eight-year-old story about an indifference to the plight of European Jewry in the late ’30s and early ’40s on the part of King George VI, who is portrayed by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. The original reporting (by the Guardian‘s Ben Summerskill in an April ’02 article) was accurate, but the purpose of the recent rehash by “Vulture’s” Claude Brodesser Akner last November was apparently to smear the film. Icky, of course, but it was nonetheless legit of Scott Feinberg to report about this story (and particularly the apparent motives behind its release) six weeks ago. And it does seem a tiny bit harsh of Kris Tapley and Roger Ebert to twitter-bash Feinberg for having simply reported the facts with an eye toward restraint and suspicion.
The big public Hobo screening happens at the Egyptian on Friday, 11:30 pm. The big private Hobo party starts at midnight and lasts until 3 am. There’s talk about Rutger Hauer sipping Bloody Marys with selected press a few days later. The idea of this film unseen, I fear, is probably more potent that the reality of it, seen. Will it be said down the road that the trailer was the better distillation, as in less is more?
My Delta flight from JFK arrived at Salt City City airport at 7:40 pm. 100 minutes later I was checking into the Park Regency condos. The place felt stuffy and overheated so I let some nice frigid mountain air in — did the trick. The wifi is pretty good so no mood pockets. Park City restaurants will probably stay open late tomorrow night or certainly by Thursday, but tonight they all shuttered at 10 pm. The nothingness is almost thrilling. “Ah-don’t tell me / I’ve nothin’ to do…”
Prospector near Kearns Blvd., Park City, Utah — Tuesday, 1.18, 9:55 pm.
I’m guessing that the Brian DePalma fan club isn’t what it used to be. 30 years ago his admirers, led by Pauline Kael, were legion. I was one of the faithful after his early to mid ’70s run ending with Carrie, but I began running hot and cold throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and didn’t really get off the boat until Mission to Mars (’00) — that, for me, was the final deal-breaker.
I know that my first stirrings of doubt in DePalma began with The Fury (’78) and then started to really take root with Blow Out (’81), a ripoff of Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Blow Up (’67).
All I saw in the former, a paranoid political thriller with John Travolta and Nancy Allen, was an attempt at construction that never finally felt complete. Push the button, yank the chain. DePalma has never been much of a story-teller. It’s a cliche to say this but he’s always been a guy who lives for elaborate camera choreography as an end it itself. To me the characters and especially the dialogue in his films have always felt hackneyed and hand-me-downish.
What was the old Michael O’Donoghue line from Saturday Night Live around this time? “Every year Brian DePalma picks the bones of a dead director and gives his wife [Allen at the time] a job.”
Am I interested in watching this forthcoming Criterion Bluray version when it arrives on 4.28.11? Yeah. Maybe it’ll play better than it did the one and only time I saw it in a New York screening room during the first year of Ronald Reagan‘s presidency. But it’s telling, obviously, that I haven’t felt the slightest interest in catching it again. My memory is a little hazy, but I think I was somewhere between unimpressed and pissed-off when I first saw Blow Out. I just couldn’t get past the fact that Antonioni’s version had sunk in and stayed in my head while DePalma’s evaporated the second it ended.
[Filed from the air, 34,000 feet above Ohio.]
The Digital Bits has announced that Paramount Home Video will release a Bluray version of the longer, far superior “bootleg” cut of Cameron Crowe‘s Almost Famous on 1.30.11. “Retail exclusive,” they’re saying. The impressionistic paint-dab cover is great — I wonder who designed it? The only really high-level film Kate Hudson has ever been in, and one that arguably contains Billy Crudup‘s finest, or certainly most appealing, performance ever.
Extras include some of the same stuff available on the theatrical version DVD — audio commentary from Crowe, a “Making of Almost Famous” featurette, an interview with the late Lester Bangs, Crowe’s Top Albums of 1973 and some of his old Rolling Stone articles, etc.
“One stumbling block to an ultimate Oscar win for The Social Network could be the film’s lack of warmth and uplift,” L.A. Times “Awards Tracker” columnist Nicole Sperling wrote yesterday morning. “It’s a modern and edgy story, but there’s relatively little emotional connection with the characters. The King’s Speech, on the other hand, has audiences rooting for Colin Firth‘s King George VI and winds up on an emotional high note, a tone often embraced by academy voters.”
If I were Sperling I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to trot this one out again. I know that it’s gotten to the point that my body suffers an involuntary muscle spasm (the kind that I used to get whenever I’d trip on acid or mescaline in my early 20s) when I hear it. It’s the core rationale of the King’s Speech-predicting Guru cabal. Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone has explained/argued again and again and again that the “emotional warmth = Oscar gold” equation began to count for less and less starting about five years ago. No Country For Old Men wasn’t an emotional backrub movie; nor was The Hurt Locker.
On top of which the difference between The King’s Speech and The Social Network is the difference between (a) “very well crafted” and “highly satisfying” with a comfortable “triumph over a personal foible” theme and (b) distilled, jewel-cut, zero-body-fat perfection that re-animates classic themes about ambition, greed and betrayal.
I can only surmise that those who can’t let go of the “not emotional enough” argument are doing so for reasons of their own. They won’t give it up because it’s in their nerves and their flesh and the marrow of their bones, and is stronger than whatever conclusion their odds-analyzing, reality-facing side might be telling them.
Delta Airlines’ domestic JFK terminal is a bird atrium. The place is filled with little gray-brown birds fluttering around and nesting on the large mother-ship hanging lamps and mooching french fries and lettuce shreds from Burger King customers. The word must be out in the Brooklyn-Queens bird community that the eating is good here, and that it’s a lot easier than scrounging around for insects and worms and whatnot.
Update: For the second time in the last two hours a howling, soul-agitating, sonic-disturbance alarm has gone off inside the terminal. It sounds like the giant insects in Them! (’55) but with an electronic distortion effect. The monkey in charge of turning off the alarm didn’t get around to it for a good ten minutes last time. This new one has been going for six or seven minutes so far. Listening to sounds like this takes minutes if not hours off your life span and may even lead to hair-thinning.
So the general reaction is that Piers Morgan has to do more than just orally pleasure his guests? That’s the consensus, I mean? Nobody wants a celebrity gladhander. Larry King was a relentless softballer, but occasionally he’d let go with a bluntly-phrased, politically-attuned, yes-or-no question. That barking, raspy voice of his made his questions seem tough, even if they weren’t for the most part.
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired distribution rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand to Jeff Nichols‘ Take Shelter, an intense drama about an Ohio-residing nutbag dad (Michael Shannon, who else?) who’s become convinced that some kind of apocalypse is imminent and that he needs to protect his family, etc. Jessica Chastain (playing Shannon’s wife), Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon and Kathy Baker costar.
Michael Shannon in Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter.
The Tyler Davidson/Strange Matter Films productions is in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival. The Park City premiere is on Monday, 1.24. I have to be honest and say that I’m a little reluctant to watch Shannon play another wacko. The only way this film is going to work for me is if his premonition turns out to be true. I’m just being upfront.
“Curtis LaForche lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Hannah, a six-year-old deaf girl,” the synopsis reads. “When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a storm shelter in his backyard. His seemingly inexplicable behavior concerns and confounds those closest to him, but the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within his community can’t compare with Curtis’s privately held fear of what his dreams may truly signify.”
Chastain has seven films set for release this year, including starring roles in The Help with Emma Stone, The Debt with Helen Mirren (which I saw in Toronto — forget it), and Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life avec Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
Are those clouds natural or CG’ed? Very nice work if it’s the latter.
I tried to arrive at JFK’s Delta Airlines terminal no later than 9:15 am to catch a 10:25 am flight. But the L and A trains did their usual-usual and I didn’t make it to departure check-in until 9:30 am. Delta’s policy is to refuse to check luggage that arrives less than an hour before departure, even if you’re a minute late, so they wouldn’t let me on the flight — nice.
HE editorial headquarters for the next three or four hours. This is the only available outlet in the Burger King eating area. There’s another one next to a table but some other guy has laid claim.
You’d think they’d try to be a little flexible with customers who are four or five minutes late. Maybe let the customer through if he/she smiles and pays a penalty, say. I only know that other domestic airlines have never taken me off a flight when I’ve arrived at the counter 55 minutes before departure. I’m sure Delta instituted this policy for good reason, but they could be a little less strict (i.e., pricky) about it.
The lost flight was a Salt Lake City connection flight via Las Vegas that would have put me on SLC turf around 4:30 pm. I’m now re-booked onto a non-stop flight to Salt Lake City that gets in at 7:25 pm. Mildly irksome but not a disaster.
Delta struck again when I went through security. I couldn’t fit my toiletries into the suitcase so I put them into a canvas carry-on bag. The Delta guys confiscated a large tube of toothpaste and three other items (aroma enhancers, no liquids) because their presence in the bag made it “too big.” The value of the stuff they confiscated, no exaggeration, comes to about $30 or $35 bills. Lesson: don’t ever carry bathroom stuff in a shoulder bag. But I’m also thankful that airline security professionals are so vigilant because they’re protecting us all from terrorism.
HE headquarters for the next several hours will be a Burger King on level #3 and/or the passenger lounge outside Gate 9.