Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus opened yesterday so it’s time for reader opinions. Individual critiques, of course, but how did the room feel? My 6.1 review again: “Impressively composed and colder than a witch’s boob in Siberia. Visually striking, spiritually frigid, emotionally unengaging, at times intriguing but never fascinating. It’s technically impressive, of course — what else would you expect from an expensive Scott sci-fier? And the scary stuff takes hold in the final third. But it delivers an unsatisfying story that leaves you…uhm, cold.”
For Tom Cruise it’s Cocktail (and to a lesser extent Far and Away). For Harrison Ford it’s between Random Hearts and Regarding Henry. For Robin Williams, it’s Hook. For Johnny Depp, The Secret Window…or maybe, deep down, his corporate cash-ins with Garth Drabinsky and Jerry Bruckheimer. For Clark Gable, Parnell. For Cary Grant, a duel between The Howards of Virginia and The Pride and the Passion. For Kirk Douglas, The Big Trees. I could do this all day.
In a piece called “Suddenly That Summer” in the July Vanity Fair, it’s stated that “1967’s Summer of Love” brought the Mad Men era to a halt [with everyone] trading martinis for LSD and cocktail parties for Human Be-Ins.”
True — the warm months of 1967 were when the spiritual transcendence thing that had been percolating in rarified circles in late ’65 and ’66 seemed to kick in big-time. But I thought it was widely understood that the Summer of Love was more of a finale than a peak moment.
May, June and July of ’67 was when Sgt. Pepper brought the current to the suburbs and the minds of the somewhat less hip, and when the Life magazine media mob resultantly began to play up the psychedelic nirvana aspects and how this would be changing — i.e, threatening — the careerist vistas and priorities of college students and 20somethings, etc.
But by August it was over. The bloom was off the rose, and dealers were putting speed into acid to make tripping seem more intense. And then Hollywood jumped in with depictions of acid trips as sexual ecstasy levitations in The President’s Analyst (which came out in December)
I thought the definitive statement about this period had been delivered by Peter Fonda‘s Terry Valentine character in Steven Soderbergh‘s The Limey (’99), to wit: “Did you ever dream about a place you never really recall being to before? A place that maybe only exists in your imagination? Some place far away, half remembered when you wake up. When you were there, though, you knew the language. You knew your way around. That was the ’50s. [pause] No. It wasn’t that either. It was just ’66 and early ’67. That’s all there was.”
I’ll never forget a preppie guy I knew who was into projecting a casual Brooks Brothers vibe. He was always wearing khaki pants (or pressed jeans even) and a pink or yellow Brooks Brothers dress shirt, and driving his father’s Jaguar XKE around. One night we’d all dropped and were at a party, and I remember watching this guy try to smooth-talk this pretty girl when all of a sudden an LSD chest-flutter muscle spasm hit him so hard he almost lost his balance, and the whole collegiate Brooks Brothers aura was shattered in an instant.
There’s a Bruce Handy q & a with Mad Men‘s Jessica Pare (i.e., Megan) in the July 2012 Vanity Fair, and on the website there’s a video piece about her. I knew going in that the subject of Pare’s rabbit teeth would not even be alluded to, much less touched upon. But honestly? As much as I admire & enjoy Pare’s work on Mad Men, her teeth are the first thing I see when she comes to mind. Followed by her eyes, hair and speaking voice. And then “Zou bisou bisou.”
And what’s wrong with having rabbit teeth (or ‘rather prominent front teeth,’ which is how a guy in the mid ’60s described the chompers of Patti Boyd Harrison, who had worked as a model before marrying George Harrison)? Absolutely nothing. You could argue, in fact, that Pare’s teeth are what give her beauty a distinctive edge. Don’t modify or hide a physical trait — flaunt it! But the reason Pare is in Vanity Fair is not, right now, because she’s the new Meryl Streep — it’s because she’s very particular and believable in Mad Men but primarily because she’s hot in a kind of mid-60ish way. (The VF copy calls her “a French-Canadian firecracker.”)
You know that if Pare was just starting to happen as an actress in the mid ’60s, the first thing her manager would tell her would be to “go to a dentist and file your teeth down and even them out a bit.” Not so much today and that’s fine, but any guy who says he wouldn’t be at least thinking about the possible pitfalls of receiving oral sex from Pare if he was seeing her in real life is a liar.
I’m sorry that it has to fall to me to bring this stuff up, but, like I said, it was absolutely assured going in that Handy wouldn’t touch Pare’s dental issue with a ten-foot pole. Honestly? If I were Pare I would probably ask my dentist for a slight modification. Just to take the fear factor out, so to speak. Would this interfere with Pare’s Pare-ness? A tiny bit, yes, but every actress has her edges sanded down when she becomes famous. At least slightly. Are you going to tell me that the Kate Winslet of 2012 looks even faintly like that carrot-haired actress in Heavenly Creatures? Look at Kristen Stewart‘s glammed-up, heavily made-over appearance on the cover of the July Vanity Fair. She looks hot, all right, but are you going to tell that me that her special Stewart-ness hasn’t been all but smothered?
Patti Boyd Harrison during a visit she and George Harrison made to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district in August 1967.
Here’s the first teaser for Alan Spencer‘s Bullet In The Face, an absurdly ultra-violent IFC TV series…in quotes. Deadline‘s Ray Richmond reports that the first three screened episodes “show it to be uproarious and twisted [and] rife with cinematic-level violence and wildly politically incorrect imagery.
“This] is the kind of stuff that may have spooked IFC into turning Bullet into a two-night event rather than a weekly series,” Richmond writes. “The network probably expected something more in the mocking and gentler vein of Spencer’s Sledge. Instead, they got an outrageous bloodfest.”
Before the dead-cow bayou muck factor kicks in around the two-thirds or three-quarters mark, Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight, 6.27) earns enough creative impressionist mood points to earn it a Best Picture nomination…which it probably will receive at the end of the day. But I’ve never appreciated the comforts of hot water and soap and clean sheets and clean socks on your feet as did when I emerged from seeing Beasts at the Park City Racquet Club last January.
Mediabistro.com has launched a video series called “My First Break.” The opener features New York Times columnist and reporter David Carr recalling his first front-page byline — a piece about police brutality (i.e., “thumpers”) for the Minneapolis Twin Cities Reader. A great story in itself. I can’t wait for the others.
If right now wasn’t the best time of my life — financially, spiritually, emotionally, health-wise — I probably couldn’t write this, but there are four acts or phases in the life of a gifted or at least driven samurai-poet-artist, and two of them are hell. Well, one and a half.
The first is called “my life hasn’t quite kicked into gear yet but it hopefully will, and if it doesn’t I’ll be flirting with varying degrees of misery for the rest of my life.” (A LexG subcurrent reads the same but has this addendum: “And I so can’t stand not being there that I’m going to drink/compulsively chase girls/smoke pot/gamble/shoot heroin to narcotize the pain.”) I was in this phase until I was 25 or 26, and even after I started to climb out of this things weren’t so great. It didn’t really get good until the late ’80s (when I got married and had kids) and early ’90s.
The second is called “it’s happening and it’s great, but I know it could all slip away if I don’t stay on the stick and work hard and eat right and stay away from the bad habits…I know things’ll be hard anyway from time to time, but I can roll with a downturn or two.”
The third phase is called “yep, this is really working out pretty well…steady as she goes, good writing happening, business is somewhere beteen plugging-along and thriving, sons are doing great, nice comfy abode, travel year round, cats are healthy, terrific scooter to buzz around on, booze is history, good eating habits, anger issues at lowest levels ever, great-quality streaming on 60″ Samsung, relatively lean, no pot belly, most of my hair hasn’t fallen out,” etc.
The yet-to-be-experienced fourth phase is called “my life is fine but the really good years are more or less over in terms of career and good money and pretty women and travel and general excitement, and henceforth I’m looking at a kind of slow, steady-as-she-goes downhill slide. True, the spiritual serenity and and the life-wisdom stuff are peaking now and that’s beautiful, but my days of real electricity and occasional triumph are over.”
The first act is the worst (I’ve been there — it’s awful), the second is good and bad in equal portions and the fourth act is probably not as bad as it sounds — i.e., at least you have your laurels to rest upon.
There’s a fifth phase, of course — “Let’s see, I’m 88 now and I need to wait for the guy to come at noon and replace my wheelchair wheels, but in the meantime there’s a lot to read and my cats love me and I can alway stream a good film whenever I want and it sure is nice to have that package of Depends sitting in the bathroom just in case,” etc.
Come to think of it, this may be worse than the first act. At least you’re in the game when you’re young, miserable and unfulfilled. At least you’ve got a chance to get lucky or strike a vein of some kind. In phase five you’re pretty much finished unless you’re a novelist or a painter or an online columnist, or unless you’re lucky enough to be Norman Lloyd or somebody on his level.
“…and it’s all over much too quickly.” — Woody Allen, Annie Hall.