I don’t like the word “hydrate,” which has always struck me as some kind of fussy bullshit way to say “drink a lot of water.” I only know that if someone who’s not an officer or NCO stationed in the Mideast uses that term in what I judge to be an overly assertive manner I’ll start regarding them askance.
I know it sounds weird to object. Why not just roll with it, right? “Yeah, I’ll need to hydrate during my ten-mile hike,” etc. But something about the sound of it bothers the hell out of me. People have been gulping water since the dawn of the species and now they’re hydrating? I’ll bet Jim Thorpe or Jesse Owens never heard the term, and would have ignored it if they had. I know I’ll never use it if I can help it, and woebetide anyone who says it in my presence. Okay, once or twice but that’s it.
MPI is opening Mathieu Demy‘s Americano in New York on 6.15. That tells you it’s something modest, but Peter Debruge‘s Variety review plus the cast (Demy, Salma Hayek, Geraldine Chaplin, Chiara Mastroianni, Carlos Bardem) makes me want to catch it at least, and it pains me not to have that shot until I return to the States later this month.
“To look at French actor Mathieu Demy is to see a synthesis of his parents, directors Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy,” Debruge wrote. “The same could be said of his directorial debut, Americano, which blends his mother’s unpretentious almost-verite style with a certain forlorn romanticism likely inherited from his father.
“Working on both sides of the camera, Demy plays a Parisian real estate agent who returns to Los Angeles after his mom’s death to sort out her affairs. Among the loose ends are, eventually, a Mexican stripper played by Salma Hayek, whose sultry presence is the pic’s best shot at American distribution.
“With the exception of the incredibly sexy striptease that introduces Hayek’s character rather late in the story, Americano avoids the kind of sensationalism that would make it an obvious fest or arthouse item. Shot on grainy Super 16 in neighborhoods that haven’t changed in decades, Demy’s film echoes an earlier era, like a bottle sent out to sea in the ’70s that’s only just now washing ashore.
“Though Demy’s approach breaks no new ground, directorially speaking, Martin’s personal journey finds a fresh angle on a universal piece of wisdom. Every mother’s son believes he’s the star of his own life; “Americano” captures that humbling moment where one realizes perhaps he has only been a bit player in his parents’ story, not the star, as initially believed.”
Yesterday morning Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, Boxoffice.com’s Phil Contrino and I trudged into the valley. Contrino is certain that Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike will be a big hit with younger, shallower women. (Shallower than Sasha, I mean. Channing Tatum isn’t her type.) Prometheus may not hold all that well, we decided. Rock of Ages, That’s My Boy, etc. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer will probably underperform. Brave and Pixar were discussed, but Sasha’s cat managed to stop the recording at some point so that portion is mostly gone. Here’s a stand-alone mp3 link.
This is Helen Hunt‘s finest, most affecting scene in her entire career. The way she says “fries” is dead perfect. And she handles Jack Nicholson‘s classic line with just the right…hesitancy. And acceptance. I don’t care what Guy Lodge or Gabe the Playlist or anybody else says — at times this film has a quality that really, really works. It’s obviously the last successful emotional touch movie that James L. Brooks made. The Bluray is out tomorrow.
Lauren Greenfield‘s The Queen of Versailles (Magnolia, 7.20) “is an oddly spelllbinding, must-see documentary,” I wrote on 1.19.12 during the Sundance Film Festival. “The backdrop is the vacation-timeshare empire of former billionaire David Siegel, and how things began to collapse after the financial meltdown of 2008. But the focus is about how his marriage to 40something Jackie Siegel, a clueless, fake-boobed 40something bimbo, began to rot around the edges when the money began to evaporate and budgetary restraint became necessary.
“Jackie is truly appalling — a metaphor for a kind of profligate soul cancer, a poster lady for American emptiness in the 21st Century. She’s not without “good” qualities, but she makes Imelda Marcos look like June Cleaver.
“She admits to Greenfield that she had kids because she knew her nannies would take care of them. She is compulsive, immature and uneducated — an eight-year old. She’s had a deceased pet stuffed and keeps his remains inside a glass case. When times get tough dogshit turds are seen on the floor of her home. She asks a car-rental rep at an airport who her driver will be, and is surprised to discover that she’ll have to drive the car herself. (I wonder if this last bit was genuine — it seems too much even for her.)
“The press notes say that The Queen of Versailles has “the epic dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy,” and there is a kind of grandiosity about the downswirl that affects the lives of David and Jackie and their seven or eight kids and their domestic staff.
“It follows their riches-to-rags story over a two…make that a three-year period. It begins before the ’08 crash when Westgate, Siegel’s timeshare company, is bringing in millions hand over fist, and finishes with a financial move that David made in November 2011.
“The material centerpiece of the film is a ridiculous, half-built, 90,000-square-foot mansion — inspired by the palace of Versailles — that David began building in flush times. And then comes the crash and it all gradually turns to shit.
“The Queen of Versailles is a portrait of American cluelessness by way of absurd financial irresponsibilty. It’s a cautionary tale about the cost of living an unexamined life — of living an unrefined and largely uneducated life that’s solely about yourself and your tacky creature comforts and never seeing beyond that. What Greenfield shows is a metaphor about 21st Century American greed, and what happened to the faux-royal easy-money crowd after the good times stopped rolling.
“It’s also a kind of comedy, if you watch it with the right frame of mind. I’m calling it another Al Qaeda recruitment film — the best I’ve seen since Sex and the City 2.”
Most of the time I’m walking around missing the way things used to feel when I was younger and everything seemed fresher and more exciting. The rest of the time I’m having bad dreams about falling off buildings and ladders and being unemployed and backed up against the wall and not knowing which way to turn and worrying myself sick. I think someone or something is trying to tell me to walk carefully, live frugally and watch my back.
I wish I could say that most of the time I’m exalting in the sublime comfort of having the greatest job I’ve ever had in my life and how nobody can ever fire me again, and how the rest of the time I’m delighting in how much more attractive and sparkling and fragrant everything seems when I walk around Prague, unmitigated as I am by alcohol consumption or cigarette coughing or anxiety or fear of any kind. But I can’t. Well, I do feel grateful at times, but the lead paragraph kinds sums up where my head has been for the last 48 hours. But it’s okay.
Incidentally: Every so often the little TV in my Prague apartment hiccups and drops the color. I can’t remember the last time I sat in a living-room chair and watched black-and-white TV, but it’s nice. I’m glad the TV is a beater.
I was watching Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Blow-Up (’66), which I’ve seen eight or nine times and know backwards and forwards. Meaning that The Lovin’ Spoonful‘s “Butchie’s Tune,” which plays early on, can’t offer much intrigue. But I can’t get it out of my head now. And it’s starting to get oppressive.
Every now and then a film with serious problems will get to me, and I’ll come out going “wow!” And then a week or two later I’ll go, “Wait…what was I thinking?” But it’s too late — I’ve already written “wow!” in the column.
All I can say is that sometimes an aspect of a film can seep in and capture you on a deep-down level, and you’ll be so taken by that one thing that you’ll wave away the other issues. I don’t know what else to say except that every so often views and impressions are stupidly ejaculatory or otherwise malleable, and you just have to live and learn and move on.
In other words, I’ve written reviews that I don’t feel all that good about, and as persuasive as these and other rationalizations may sound, I’ll always wonder why I didn’t think things through a bit more before hitting “save.” Short list: Ed Zwick‘s Love and Other Drugs, Tim Burton‘s Planet of the Apes, Peter Jackson‘s King Kong.
The fair young maiden is dead and gone — all female leads in action-adventure-fantasy pics set in any period have to follow the Neytiri/Katniss Everdeen example. (Not to mention Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, Natalie Portman in Your Highness and Cate Blanchett‘s Maid Marian in Robin Hood.) Strong and feisty, a canny survivor, an armed combatant and tough cookie, good with a knife or a bow-and-arrow, skilled in martial arts, etc.
Which is well and good — nobody wants to go back to “some day my prince will come.” But it’s the same old groove over and over again, no?
“Brave seems a wee bit conventional by comparison with, say, how radically The Incredibles reinvented the superhero genre,” writesVariety‘s Peter Debruge. “Adding a female director to its creative boys’ club, the studio has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo.
“Though going all girly has made parent company Disney skittish in the past (most recently retitling its Rapunzel adventure Tangled to play to crossover interest), this new Celtic princess comes off as enough of a tomboy to ensure near-universal appeal. As its title suggests, Brave offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren’t so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.”
Once, the B’way musical based on John Carney’s 2007 Ireland-shot film of the same name, won the Tony Award for Best Musical last night. It won seven other Tonys — Enda Walsh won for Best Book of a Musical, John Tiffany won for Best Direction and Steve Kazee won for Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Also: Bob Crowley for Scenic Design; Natasha Katz for Lighting Design; Clive Goodwin for Sound Design, and Martin Lowe for Best Orchestrations.