Last night’s debut episode of HBO’s Girls — directed, written, produced by and costarring Lena Dunham — definitely contained some of best girls-talking-confessionally dialogue I’ve heard in any film, cable series, play or anything. I was seriously impressed. To me, Dunham’s writing sounded truer and…I don’t know, more musical or whatever than it did in Tiny Furniture. The episode is now viewable online.
Three or four weeks ago a certain party whom I felt I had to ban from commenting, largely due to drinking, asked to be let back in. I replied that the alcohol issue was a concern. He asked again for re-entry. And then a couple of weeks ago I asked if I unblocked him would he give me his “absolute solemn blood oath that you’ll never talk about not getting laid and suicide and women’s feet and all the other belly-button-lint crap that you’ve posted before on HE?”
I won’t quote his response but he said he couldn’t in good conscience promise he wouldn’t talk about not getting laid, but that all the other stuff will be controlled. A week ago I told him he was unblocked but “if there’s one fucking mention of profund miserable depression or how you’ll never ever get laid or how I need to give you money for a hooker weekend in Nevada or thoughts of suicide or Kristen Stewart‘s feet or how people need to pay you $100 grand to write for them, you’re fucking gone.”
I haven’t heard a word since. Today I wrote again and said, “So I gave it all this thought and decided to think positively and trust fate and unblock you and you go all Silent Bob on me? That’s vaguely insulting. What should I do, block you again?”
My attempts to fix the sound-synch issue with the Samsung Bluray were going nowhere, and I knew I’d have to get another player to handle domestic Blurays. Plus the Sherwood Bluray player, which plays European Blurays quite nicely, doesn’t have an optical sound receptacle so I’ve had to shoot the sound through the TV speakers and not the richer, fuller-sounding externals. And so two days ago I imperceptibly slumped and ordered an Oppo 93, the Mercedes Benz of multi-region Bluray players. It hurt, but now I’m happy. The sound synch is perfect.
The easiest set-up of any DVD or Bluray player I’ve ever fiddled with.
Calendar photo of Burt Lancaster, in Venice around the time of The Leopard (’63) or perhaps right before he was about to shoot that Luchino Visconti film…what do I know? Anyway, he’s now appearing in my kitchen.
Tonight Florent Emili Biri‘s My Way, a French-produced biopic of singer/songwriter Claude Francois, wil open the City of Lights City of Angels (COLCOA) festival at the DGA theatre. And four days from now Kang Je-gyu‘s My Way, a wartime period drama occuring from the late ’30s to the mid ’40s, will open in select theatres,
I’m a fan of Whit Stillman‘s Barcelona and Metropolitan, but I was squirming in my seat as I watched Damsels in Distress at last September’s Toronto Film Festival. Many are okay with it, I realize, but to me it felt too mannered and self-conscious, and arch to a fare-thee-well. But I need to see it again now because Glenn Kenny has figured out a way for people like me to enjoy it — he’s cracked the code.
I just have to pretend that I’m watching an Eric Rohmer film, and the clouds will then part. At least partly. Okay, Kenny hasn’t precisely said “do this and you’ll find your way into the ‘off’ mood of Stillman’s film and maybe enjoy it a bit more,” but he’s certainly suggested it. To me anyway.
Kenny’s experiment would probably work even better, I’m thinking, if Stillman had shot a French-language version so it could be shown with English subtitles. 25 or 30 years ago Andrew Sarris described what he called the “Russian Tea Room syndrome.” It basically meant that sophisticated cineastes could enjoy material if presented in a foreign tongue with subtitles, but serve the same dish with American actors and accents and they’d have a problem with it.
I’ve seen Michael Crichton‘s Westworld (’73) seven or eight times if not more, and I’m ready to pop for the French Bluray (i.e., Mondwest) right now. It’s an agreeable but far-from-great scifi thriller that looks low-budgety and has no mind-blowing effects or breathtaking action scenes even. It’s just a lot of basic exposition and half-comedic scenes in a fake old-west town with Richard Benjamin, James Brolin and Yul Brynner.
Why, then, do I like Westworld so much? Because it’s first-rate comfort food with a cool concept, and because you can see the revolt of the robots coming from a mile away and it doesn’t matter because it’s fun to just chill and watch stuff happen. And because Brynner’s gunslinger is a trip, and on a certain level a sympathetic figure. You’re half-rooting for him and his fellow slave revolting robots at the end because they aren’t taking any more shit from rich assholes any more.
Brynner’s badass cyborg is a seminal Hollywood figure, of course — the stylistic and technological forerunner of Cameron and Schwarzenegger‘s Terminator.
The question is why hasn’t Westworld been remade? I would be there in a New York minute if they did. The hook could be that the tourists are metaphors for the most loathed and despised — the Goldman Sachs guys, one-percenters, Kardashians –and the robots are metaphors for the Occupy protestors. Or something like that.
Westworld is basically Jurassic Park with super-realistic robots and fleshbots. It was briefly a shitty TV show in the early ’80s but otherwise it’s been a dormant concept for 30 years, which means that GenY and even younger GenX haven’t a clue. I would love to see this again, and think of how much more more intense it could be with the right FX and a little restraint. It’s a piece about base impulses and repressed hungers, which is to say a piece about who and what we really are.
You don’t need to be a nerd-like authority about the Titanic disaster or even know a few random facts about it, but to not even know it happened for real requires a stunning level of ignorance. It follows that the same people are clueless about ten thousand other things. A democracy can’t successfully function with a donkey-brained electorate. This helps to explain why Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry had supporters. (Jim Romanesko posted this today.)
Because I live to some extent in a membrane of creative denial, it only hit me this morning that I have five working days — four and a half now — to do everything I need to do before leaving for New York and then France/Cannes on 4.27. That’s because next week is going to be all Vegas and all Cinemacon, and then a return to LA on Thursday night and the NYC flight departing on Friday morning. So I made a list of everything that needs doing, and it’s too long. I’m not going to be able to get to all this and do the column every day to the tune of six or seven posts.
The result is that my system and my brain are slowing down. Rather than man up and deal with this methodically, I’m a deer in the headlights. I just have to shake it off and get going, but this has happened before. If I have a managable list and a reasonable amount of time, I’m fine. But if the list is too long and the time is too short, I’ll quietly freak and then freeze over. It’s like being hit with a stroke.
LA to Vegas: 4.23 to 4.26. LA to NYC on 4.27, staying until 5.3. And then off to Berlin for a week before Cannes.
I really hate those clean-up guys with their gas-powered, putty-put air blowers on their backs, generating that awful roaring and thwacking noise on an otherwise pleasant day. I’m trying to write here, Manolo…eff off! It used to be that low-end gardeners and mild-mannered lowlifes were paid to quietly sweep and rake up and trim rose bushes and mow lawns with manual mowers Not just quietly but peacefully. When’s the last time anyone heard the sound of a nice manual lawnmower being pushed along? Or saw a gardener sitting on a law and sharpening the blades? Air blowers are but one of the cultural pollutants that rain down on a daily basis.
This morning a friend asked for an observation about Safe‘s Jason Statham, and here’s what I sent back: “At his best, Staham has that studly, minimalist Steve McQeen vibe going on — the steely hard guy with the code of honor who doesn’t say much and blah blah. Every generation has two or three tough hombres of this sort, and right now he’s filling that requirement.
“McQueen made shit from to time, but he also worked with A-level directors on A-level films — The Great Escape‘s John Sturges, Bullitt‘s Peter Yates, Papillon‘s Franklin Schaffner, The Sand Pebbles‘ Robert Wise, The Getaway and Junior Bonner‘s Sam Peckinpah.
“Statham, on the other hand, has almost exclusively made B-level programmers.
“Since breaking out 14 years ago in Guy Ritchie‘s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch (’00), Statham has starred in exactly one classy, high-pedigree film — Roger Donaldson‘s The Bank Job. He also did a 45-second walk-on in Michael Mann‘s Collateral, but you can hardly count that.
“Statham is a working-class Brit with a sports background (diving) and not much education, and one result is that he seems to lack not only good taste but any kind of longing to acquire it, and therefore a semblance of class. He seems to regard action-movie acting as a ticket to wealth and power, but he doesn’t seem to understand what true aesthetic coolness is.
“If Statham makes too many crap movies, he’ll eventually lose his lustre and magnestism. He’ll be bruised fruit.”