This is two years old and perhaps not the cleverest thing in the world, but it’s late and I’m tired and I laughed.
Thomas Horn, who plays the excitable Oskar in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, “is an attractively real-looking boy with an impish smile and a natural-feeling directness, and he holds his own just fine, even against a scene-stealer like Max von Sydow,” says N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis. “But it’s an impossible role in an impossible movie that has no reason for being other than as another pop-culture palliative for a trauma it can’t bear to face.
“In truth, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close isn’t about Sept. 11. It’s about the impulse to drain that day of its specificity and turn it into yet another wellspring of generic emotions: sadness, loneliness, happiness. This is how kitsch works. It exploits familiar images, be they puppies or babies — or, as in the case of this movie, the twin towers — and tries to make us feel good, even virtuous, simply about feeling. And, yes, you may cry, but when tears are milked as they are here, the truer response should be rage.”
Gerard Depardieu had one of his most glorious moments in this scene from Andrzej Wajda‘s Danton. As Georges Danton, his climactic rant against the paranoid mindset of Maxime Robespierre and his brethren is electrifying. It’s easily the equal of Paul Scofield‘s final speech against his accusers in A Man For All Seasons.
This is my idea of good Christmas-holiday viewing…seriously. You can have It’s A Wonderful Life.
“No one wants to pay money to see fat old men chasing ghosts.” Whether or not Bill Murray actually wrote this comment in a note to Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis regarding a recent draft of Ghostbusters 3, it’s an accurate and perceptive statement. (And it sure sounds like Murray.) The National Enquirer‘s Mike Walker has also reported that Murray shredded the script before sending it back.
I’ve read several reviews of Cameron Crowe‘s We Bought A Zoo (20th Century Fox, 12.23). They all expound on the usual-usuals with about two-thirds approving and one-third saying ixnay. But so far no reviews have mentioned my big complaint, which is that whatever you might think of the script or the acting the film rests upon a fundamentally rancid notion that zoos are cool. Which of course they’re not. They’re kindly penal institutions with animals doing life sentences.
How would critics respond, I wonder, to a spiritually wholesome film about a Southern family in the 1840s growing cotton and lording over 25 slaves? Would they ignore the slave aspect? What if the story is about a recently widowed German father inheriting a steel plant in the late 1930s? Would critics have any comment about how the factory’s steel products might be used for appalling purposes or would they just focus on the emotional interplay between the dad and his two kids, Klaus and Greta?
What about a dramedy about a widowed father inheriting a privately-managed jail and trying to turn the jail around by treating the inmates with a bit more care and consideration (as I speculated last month)? Actually there would be nothing to say about this, really, since prisons are socially necessary and zoos are not.
Why, in short, do I appear to be the only guy talking about the repellent nature of zoos, and how, for me, this aspect has definitely and inescapably been a factor in my reactions to the film? I’ve received many, many letters from PETA members and animal lovers thanking me for saying the right thing about zoos in my three Zoo articles, but I don’t understand why so many others are saying nothing.
If anyone finds a review that agrees with me or at least touches on the animals-as-prison-convicts aspect, please forward.
“It’s no mere coincidence that the states responsible for putting the most Tea Party representatives in the House are all former members of the Confederacy,” says Robert Reich in a 12.21 Alternet column piece. “Of the Tea Party caucus, twelve hail from Texas, seven from Florida, five from Louisiana, and five from Georgia, and three each from South Carolina, Tennessee, and border-state Missouri.
“Others are from border states with significant Southern populations and Southern ties. The four Californians in the caucus are from the inland part of the state or Orange County, whose political culture has was shaped by Oklahomans and Southerners who migrated there during the Great Depression.
“This isn’t to say all Tea Partiers are white, Southern or rural Republicans — only that these characteristics define the epicenter of Tea Party Land.
“America has had a long history of white Southern radicals who will stop at nothing to get their way — seceding from the Union in 1861, refusing to obey Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, shutting the government in 1995, and risking the full faith and credit of the United States in 2010.
“Newt Gingrich‘s recent assertion that public officials aren’t bound to follow the decisions of federal courts derives from the same tradition.
“This stop-at-nothing radicalism is dangerous for the GOP because most Americans recoil from it. Gingrich himself became an object of ridicule in the late 1990s, and many Republicans today worry that if he heads the ticket the Party will suffer large losses.
“It’s also dangerous for America. We need two political parties solidly grounded in the realities of governing. Our democracy can’t work any other way.”
A little more than two years ago I wrote about a moment that happened (or more precisely didn’t happen) in a West Hollywood bar on Santa Monica Blvd. in June or July of ’81. I was with a girlfriend, and the first thing I noticed after entering the main room and ordering a drink was actor Scott Wilson, sitting at a table with a friend.
Wilson played murderer Dick Hickock in the 1967 film version of In Cold Blood, and this was foremost on my mind. After mulling it over I told my girlfriend that I wanted to go over and get Wilson’s autograph and (this was crucial) ask him to write “hair on the walls” below his name.
The phrase came from Truman Capote‘s nonfiction novel and the film version of same. Prior to their late-night visit to the home of Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, Hickock promised his psychopathic accomplice Perry Smith that no matter what happens “we’re gonna blast hair all over them walls.” So I thought it would be ironically cool to get Wilson to offer a little riff on that…wink-wink, yeh-heh.
But I wimped out, thinking he’d probably be offended. That was probably the right thing to do, but I’ve felt badly for years about it. The things that won’t leave you alone later in life are the ones you chickened out on.
I’m re-posting because I’ve captured the pertinent clip from Richard Brooks ‘ film, and I’ve found the pertinent passage from a Tom Wolfe essay called “Pornoviolence,” one of the chapters in “Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Cutter and Vine.”
Scott Wilson in In Cold Blood.
The just-released teaser for Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus (20th Century Fox, 6.18.12) shows the giant horseshoe-shaped space ship everyone remembers from Scott’s Alien (’79)…but no elephant-trunk space jockey.
Respect and tribute to the Dublin and Utah Film Critics for voting their own minds (i.e., resisting the wave of critics-group capitulations to The Artist) by handing their Best Picture trophies to Nicholas Winding Refin‘s Drive. The Dubliners also awarded Winding Refn their Best Director prize, and they awarded Drive star Ryan Gosling as Best Actor. The Utah guys also gave their Best Cinematography prize to Drive‘s Newton Thomas Sigel.
The latter is double applauded for stepping outside the box and giving their Best Supporting Actress award to Win Win‘s Amy Ryan.
Moviefone‘s Christopher Rosen: “You got to work with Andy Serkis on Tintin and he gives this wonderful performance, his second of the year after Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There has been some Oscar chatter for his work in Apes, but there’s always that push-back against digital performances. Do you feel performance capture work should be looked at next to traditional acting with regards to awards consideration?”
Steven Spielberg: “I don’t know. I don’t ever get involved in the conversation about what should be eligible and what shouldn’t be eligible.”
Of course he “knows.” Of course he has an opinion. Spielberg wouldn’t be an exceptional director if he didn’t. And it’s inconceivable that he holds with the SAG members who are fearful that motion-capture acting is a threat to their livelihood. But he chooses not to “get involved in the conversation.” How admirable.
“Traveling around North America and Europe this year for festival showings of A Separation, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and his cast have discerned a pattern. Audiences arrive skeptical, anticipating something exotic and unfamiliar, and leave pleasantly surprised that they understand and can identify with the film’s characters.
“‘At a lot of these festivals, they tell me afterward that they were expecting deserts and camels’ and ‘thinking that women in our country are not allowed even to drive, much less ask for a divorce,’ says Peyman Moaadi, who plays the male lead. ‘But Asghar is showing a new image of Iran, portraying the way that millions of normal people live in Iran today.'” — from Larry Rohter‘s 12.21 N.Y. Times story, “A Searing Family Drama Reveals A Human Side Of Iran.”
I wrote the following after seeing A Separation in Tellurde: “Soon after I slipped into the Chuck Jones theatre early yesterday afternoon I knew I was in the presence of something genuine, compassionate, complex and unflinching. This Iranian film is affecting and profound in a way that transcends nationality and culture and any other obstacle you can think of.”
David Friend to Jeffrey Wells: “Earlier this week I received a legal notice from the studio that owns most of Ingmar Bergman‘s films, trying to halt a YouTube series I’m doing on his career called Breaking Down Bergman.
“A little background on myself — I’m a reporter by day for The Canadian Press news wire and a longtime movie fanatic. I recently launched this Bergman series with a friend. We intend to watch all of Bergman’s directorial efforts in chronological order, and discuss each one in a 10-minute video using our opinions, comments and brief clips from the movie to illustrate our points. The intention is to encourage others to delve into Bergman, especially younger viewers who might know him by name but haven’t seen his movies.
“There is no profit involved — we’re doing it because we love film.
“However, Svensk Filmindustri, the copyright owner of his films in Sweden doesn’t want us using any footage AT ALL ,and after a recent conversation threatened me with legal action if I don’t stop the series. As far as I can tell, they are completely disregarding fair use laws. We’re not putting Bergman’s films online and we are actually providing promotion for this studio. So, it seems to me it is a service to the community and thus qualifies as fair use.
“Because we don’t profit from this, we also don’t have the money to hire lawyers, so we’re weighing the decision of whether to take down all of these videos and abandon a project we intended to spend the next two years on, or stick it out and see if they launch a lawsuit. I haven’t received any official legal statement from the studio lawyers at this point, but I don’t think they necessarily have to do that. Of course, these big guys at Svensk have a lot of money to challenge us and could probably hurt us financially even if they launch a lawsuit that they don’t win.
“I think it’s hugely important for us to continue engaging in a dialogue about Bergman’s films, and potentially about any other director’s films in a future series. We’re not officially movie critics. We’re just Average Joes talking about movies, and this seems like a dangerous precedent they’re putting forth.”
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