Everyone loves the plan for a new Alamo Drafthouse to occupy Manhattan’s long-struggling Metro Theatre (2626 Broadway, between 99th and 100th) by sometime next year. This is especially good news at a time when the classic theatrical experience seems to be in decline, at least in terms of the quality of the audience. It’s no secret that more and more theatres are attracting uncouth texting hordes while more and more discriminating types are opting for digital downloads at home.
Most of the patrons of the Metro Drafthouse, I’m guessing, will be Columbia University cineastes — a good fit given the famous “no talking” policy enforced by Alamo Drafthouse management. But ask anyone who’s ever lived on the Upper West Side and has seen a film or two with an urban audience, and they’ll tell you there’s a fundamental rift waiting to happen. The Alamo guys are going to have to ease up. No talking among patrons, perhaps, but “commenting on the action” and “talking back to the screen” will have to skate.
Less than a year ago N.Y. Times reporter Julie Satow wrote that Albert Bialek, owner of Manhattan’s long-struggling Metro Theatre (2626 Broadway, between 99th and 100th Street) was “in discussions to convert the Metro into a new home for Wingspan Arts, a 10-year-old nonprofit group that provides arts education for some 6,000 students in New York City, New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut.” Where’d that one go?
It was reported today that the MPAA has given Lee Hirsch‘s Bully a PG-13 rating after all. The decision was ratified after three f-bombs that nobody remembered hearing in the first place were removed from the soundtrack. The MPAA is also easing up on its 90-day rating change rule, permitting Bully to open in 55 territories on 4.13 with the PG-13 rating. Can we agree at this point to never discuss Bully‘s MPAA rating ever again?
If I was Jim Cameron I would move mountains in order to direct a nice, modest, middle-range relationship movie. Or a nice, midsized American political drama. Or anything at all in the middle range. I’d want the world to know that my films don’t have to be big or super-expensive or push the technological envelope. Most of what constitutes “human drama” happens in the modest middle regions, and I wouldn’t want to go through life suggesting that I don’t get that.
I suggested this notion to Cameron in late ’97 from the offices of People, when we did a Titanic phoner. I may have actually said “you should do a My Dinner With Andre-type thing, just to fuck with people’s heads”…or words to that effect.
I haven’t put enough effort into developing relationships with reliable tecchies who can help with issues like data migration. HE’s regular tech guy has been otherwise engaged so over the last four weeks I’ve hired two freelance guys to migrate Hollywood Elsewhere from Movable Type to WordPress, and they’ve both failed miserably. The first turned out to be a psychotic flake, and the second guy — a resident of Dana Point and an HE reader for the last two or three years — turned out to be comically unreliable and also a loon.
Two weeks ago he disappeared without a peep due to a three-day bout of meningitis in the hospital. (Or so he said.) I’d been feeling worried again because I hadn’t been able to reach him for the last two days. Last night his mother called and confessed that last Monday he was arrested for driving with a suspended license, and is now in jail in Santa Ana, awaiting a 4.17 court hearing.
I work hard, don’t drink, love my cats and this my life? I’m dealing with a guy who can’t complete a freelance job because the cops have come to his home and cuffed him and put him behind effing bars? This is what happens when you improvise and decided to trust intelligent-sounding people who seem smart and reasonable over the phone.
Anyone who drives with a suspended license poses a serious threat to the safety of any community so unless somebody posts bail ($17,500) the authorities won’t let this guy out for another two weeks, give or take. So now I have to find a third person to take over and finish the job. I’ve re-appealed to HE’s technical consultant plus another person I know. The Santa Ana jail guy had allegedly moved the migration along to a fairly advanced stage, or so he claimed last weekend. What a calamity this whole effort has been.
Mouse, my obese, four year-old Siamese male, goes out every night from 9 or 10 pm until crash time around midnight or so. I clap and he comes running from the shadows. Last night around 12:45 am I heard him yowling in that distress-call sort of way that cats use when they’re scared. He’d gotten himself trapped inside the outdoor backyard area of Le Pain Quotidien, which is right next door. There’s a big gate that the employees close and lock when they go home, and Mouse was on the wrong side of it.
I went outside and told Mouse to hang on. The gate has five or six inches of free space so I called him over to see if he could slide under, or could be pulled under. But Mouse was too fat. I was about to haul myself over the gate, which is about eight or nine feet tall, and go through the whole strained-exertion, T-shirt-ripping, pulling-a-ligament routine. Then I suddenly said “eff it” and called the West Hollywood fire station. They asked for details and said to hang tight. They showed up ten or twelve minutes later — four guys in their late 20s to mid 30s. No fire hats but rubber boots and T-shirts and overalls and all the rest of the unifirm.
One of the guys leaned over an adjoining wall and used a long wooden pole to open the two or three metal slide bolts on the gate, and the gate swung open. Mouse and I were relieved and very grateful.
Thanks to the good firemen of West Hollywood, and no, I didn’t buy them a 36″ pizza or a 24-pack of beer. That would be patronizing. That would be me saying “you guys are a team of really nice, good-hearted, blue-collar schlubs in the Denis Leary mold, and I appreciate what you did.” This is West Hollywood. There’s a decent chance that one or two of the guys who visited last night were gay and perhaps more health-conscious than your average Rescue Me-type firefighter, and therefore don’t drink beer or eat pizza or watch ESPN. Maybe I’ll bring them a plant or something. I need to give this some thought.
Yesterday Variety‘s Jeff Sneider reported that Liam “Paycheck” Neeson, currently bearding it up in Wrath of the Titans, will play “a worn-out air marshal who faces a threat while traveling on an international flight” in a Joel Silver film called Shiny Brown Torpedoes Falling From 35,000 Feet. Oh, wait, sorry, that’s wrong — it’s going to be called Non-Stop.
What’s the difference between Neeson and other action-genre clockpunching shlubs like Jason Statham? Neeson seems to occasionally attract slightly better material, as evidenced by The Grey. Otherwise he’s the very definition of an interesting, struggling middle-aged actor with a touch of the poet who decided three or four years ago to totally drop trou as long as they meet his quote.
A day or two after Whitney Houston’s death I asked a friend if he felt there was any rational basis for not concluding that she died from drugs. His response was basically “I don’t know, possibly but who knows? I think we all need to hold off until the facts are in.” Today I sent him the news about the L.A. coroner’s report saying that white powder was found everywhere, etc.
Me: “Is it safe to say now that Whitney died from drugs, or should we continue to reserve judgment?”
Friend: “Not just drugs alone. She drowned — drug-related, no doubt.”
Me: “‘Drug-related’? You don’t want to go out on a limb.”
Friend: “It’s kinda like dying of pneumonia when you’re riddled with cancer. Her cancer was a drift back into drug addiction but to say she died of drugs alone, I don’t know. Do they say it was the amount of coke she was doing that actually killed her — or was it the drowning itself? In other words if she wasn’t in the bathtub, would she still be alive?”
Me: “You may be on to something. It was the water that killed her.”
Friend: “Take it up with the coroner.”
Me: “By the same token, a woman jumps from a ten-story building and people ask if the fall killed her. No, you would say — the pavement did. Or in Collateral when Jamie Foxx looks at the dead drug dealer who’d fallen out of the window and onto the trunk of his cab, and then asks Tom Cruise, ‘You killed him?’ And Cruise says, ‘No, I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.'”
I’m sorry to be the bearer but Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg‘s American Reunion (Universal, 4.6) isn’t funny. I sat there like a granite tombstone on a cold and windy November afternoon in a cemetery in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Give the fans the old raunchy humor that they loved and responded to in ’99. But keep in mind that the characters (except for Seann William Scott‘s idiotic Stiffler) have to face up to reality and offer a semblance of maturity and reasonable behavior in the third act and blah, blah. This is one of the most tediously constricted exercises in conservative, ultra-white, suburban middle-class humor I’ve ever seen.
This movie is so constricted and afraid of itself and so white-knuckle terrified of how sexual desire can upset the social apple cart that Rick Santorum would probably find it amusing and agreeable. That’s because underneath the dick and poop and semen jokes it’s very pat, very safe, very middle-class, very “right down the middle.”
American Reunion is terrified of going in a truly perverse direction. It’s very, very concerned about propriety and observing limits and living up to community values and ideals. The term “anarchic” is not in the filmmakers’ vocabulary. Reunion hasn’t even a fraction of the truly twisted and surreal humor that you can find in parts of 21 Jump Street. And none of the wit.
The film doesn’t have the courage, for example, to allow Jason Biggs to have a moment of weakness and let the teenage girl next door fellate him a bit. Because he has to be guilty and conflicted about it, you see. A little action on the side if all he’s dreaming about night and day with he and his wife (Alyson Hannigan) having almost no sex with the kid and all, and then this girl falls into his lap and is ready to chow down, and all Biggs can do is go “homma homma homma homma I don’t think so”?
I was thinking about how Biggs was so much better and delivered such a richer, more interesting performance in Woody Allen‘s Anything Else.
The characters in American Reunion constantly feel or want something very basic or primal. Sex, loneliness, frustration with job or life. So they lie poorly and ineptly in order to cover that up. So poorly and ineptly that the people they’re sharing a scene with would have to be absolute morons not to notice the cover-up. Do they in fact notice it? Perhaps, maybe…but they don’t say anything. They let it go. And the scene just lies there. These scenes are repeated ad infinitum, and I have a news bulletin for Hurwitz and Schlossberg. Not. Funny.
Stiffler is ridiculous. He’s acting for the camera, fulfilling a stereotype, being a ham. It feels dishonest and also not funny. Are we to believe that Stiffler is such an unrepentant asshole that he’s never had a single moment’s meditation or inner reflection since ’99? Even though he’s 31 or so? Even the most outrageous idiots are modified and sanded down a bit by real life. And Vik Sahay, a short Indian guy who plays Stiffer’s dickhead boss, is equally tedious.
Yes, the sex life of a young married couple goes right downhill after the kid comes along. (I’ve been there. It does.) And that brings frustration and disappointment. And doing it outside the bedroom can be great. (Done that too.) But is that enough of an arc to hang a movie on for the two leads?
Hannigan looks like she’s 43 or 44. Those Irish genes or something. I know she was born in ’74 and was 25 in the original film and is now 37 or 38, but she REALLY looks a good ten years older than Biggs, who was born in ’78. He’ll turn 32 this year, but he could be 29 or 30 as far as his appearance in Reunion is concerned.
You can tell Tara Reid has had work on her face. (We already know about the boobs.) Mena Suvari looks fine. I loved Rebecca de Mornay‘s cameo at the end, but she’s had so much work you can barely tell it’s her.
American Reunion is a mediocre movie made by nice, safe, mediocre minds. I’m sure it’ll be hugely successful.
This morning I drove all the way the hell down to the Ultrastar Gardenwalk plex on Katella Blvd. (not far from the main entrance to Disneyland) to see Titanic 3D in a new process called Panavision 3D. I regret to say it didn’t look as good as last night’s RealD presentation at the AMC Burbank. The image was seriously underlit (it looked like 2 or 2.5 foot lamberts rather than the usual 3 or 4) and murky, and it’s not like they didn’t know I was coming — I’d called ahead and spoken to the Ultrastar publicist two weeks in advance.
A slimy homicidal alien slides into the mouths of various victims and takes over their bodies and turns them into violent sociopaths who love thrash metal and fast Ferraris. I love, love, love Jack Sholder‘s The Hidden (’87), and I would kill to own a Bluray of it. For all the anxiety and emotional anguish I endured as a freelance publicist for New Line Cinema in ’85 and ’86 I really miss the old New Line when it was really New Line. The Hidden was a perfect distillation of the old aesthetic.
Not everyone understood at the time or understands now that The Hidden wasn’t just a sci-fi-horror action thriller, although it was that — it was a sci-fi horror action comedy. There is very little in the film that isn’t intended to be absorbed as social-commentary humor or nihilist slapstick. Those scenes with the heavy-set guy with the heart condition who walks around with a boom box and walks onto a Ferrari car lot with a fuck-you attitude (“i need the keys!”) starts at 10:00.
Michael Winterbottom‘s Trishna is entirely decent retelling of Thomas Hardy‘s Tess of the Dubervilles. Some regard Freida Pinto in the same light as Robert Pattinson — i.e., beautiful but not a gifted thespian. And yet Trishna contains her best performance yet, easily. I saw it last September in Toronto and came out….well, pleased. I’ll discuss it in greater depth as the July release date approaches.