For months I’ve been in denial about David Fincher possibly directing a Cleopatra movie staring Angelina Jolie — a truly terrible-sounding idea. Physiologically I’d heard and read the reports but emotionally and psychologically I refused to let them in. So hearing he’s now off the Cleopatra project with Ang Lee possibly replacing him…? No comment with Fincher’s involvement never having been “real” in the first place.
Matthew Modine has assembled a media-rich Full Metal Jacket app that’s full of photos he took during the filming of Stanley Kubrick‘s 1987 war film plus narration and lots of other stuff. I’ve been a fool for this film for 25 years so I lapped i up right away. It costs a little ($14 or $15 bills) but it’s special. I agreed to talk to Modine about it sometime soon.
Another likely Telluride Film Festival attraction, I gather, is Sally Potter‘s Ginger & Rosa. Set in 1962 London, it’s about two young girls (Elle Fanning, Alice Englert) venturing away from a somewhat arrogant, elitist, lefty intellectual environment and finding their way through the city and its attractions. Pic costars Annette Bening and Christina Hendricks. A tipster who’s never really liked any of Potter’s previous films calls it “a huge surprise” and says Fanning’s performance is “extraordinary.”
IMDB logline: “Ginger and Rosa are inseparable. They play hookey together, discuss religion, politics and hairstyles, and dream of lives bigger than their mothers’ frustrated domesticity. But as the Cold War meets the sexual revolution, and the threat of nuclear holocaust escalates, the lifelong friendship of the two girls is shattered by the clash of desire and the determination to survive.”
There’s an upcoming awards season film repping the efforts of past Oscar winners that’s being described as a “total fiasco” by someone who would know. It’s not Robert Lorenz and Clint Eastwood‘s Trouble With The Curve (which I hear is very commercial), it’s not Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder, it’s not The Life of Pi and it’s not Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master (which of course has been seen and analyzed by quite a few people at this stage and gotten passing grades all around). But it’s something. It could be Lincoln or Anna Karenina or…I haven’t a clue.
Given the fact that Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly is only superficially about crime and is more precisely about politics and money and the ’08 meltdown, the one-sheet should say in big white letters, “Now Fucking Pay Me.” Or, if you want to be PG-13 about it, “Now ****ing Pay Me.” I swear to God, those words are the “I drink your milkshake” of this ad campaign.
In my Cannes Film Festival review, I wrote that “the plot is basically about Brad Pitt‘s Jackie Cogan, a hard-as-nails hitman, being hired to rub out a few guys involved in the robbing of a Boston poker game, as well as an unlucky rackets guy (Ray Liotta) who didn’t really do anything but tough shit — he’s on the list regardless. And yet the first 25% to 30% of the film is Pitt-less, focusing on the perps and their grubby, slip-shod realm.
“Cogan, a down-to-business, cut-the-shit assassin, is about doing the job, period. Rationality, efficiency, no personal issues or baggage — an exemplar, in a sense, of ‘clean living.’
“Above all Cogan is no believer in community and equality and Barack Obama‘s high-falutin’ talk about sharing and ‘we’re all in this together.’ Eff that.
“Killing Them Softly, then, is a fairly novel thing — an ‘Obama’s rhetoric is full of shit’ crime movie. Okay, not Obama’s per se, but his inspirational come-together theme of the ’08 campaign (a clip from his acceptance speech in Chicago is used at the beginning and end) or the generic uplift rhetoric of ‘America the beautiful.’ Pull the wool off, take the needle out, wake up to what America is.”
I was thinking about Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha, which is expected at Telluride and booked for Toronto, and wondering what’s up with the last name. Greta Gerwig is the star and co-writer (with Baumbach) of this 86-minute monochrome film, and I’ve spoken with Gerwig a couple of times and realized she’s definitely the spirited type. The synopsis says Frances Ha is about her character living an up-and-down New York life “with unaccountable joy and lightness” so the last name alludes to a happy state of mind or she has an Asian stepfather.
Greta Gerwig in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha
A friend writes that “the explanation of the title, which doesn’t come until the very last scene, is one of the loveliest surprises in the movie. Hopefully no one will spoil it for you.”
Either way Frances Ha is a title that says “we’re not coming to you — you have to come to us.” Hinterland types in Kansas, Georgia, Utah, Maine, southern New Jersey, Oklahoma and South Dakota are going to glance at the title and go “…the fuck?” I imagine a fair number of big-city types will presume it’s about an Asian girl. 90% of the people out there will think that…c’mon.
I asked a publicist connected with the film to give me a hint and she said “it’s explained in the film.” You mean the meaning of “Ha” isn’t deliberately hidden by Baumbach with no clues at all? “When you watch the movie you will find out why that is the title,” she added. “I’m not trying to be cryptic but when you see it you will know!” It’s totally okay with me if Gerwig does in fact play the stepdaughter of a guy who runs an Asian take-out truck.
Indiewire‘s Edward Davis quotes Gerwig saying the following: “[It’s] a love story about girls. It’s a girl who’s in love with her best friend, but not sexually. It’s sort of that moment when you realize, ‘Oh, so we won’t all move in together,’ and you’re going to move on with your life.’ I’m really proud of it. I think it’s really good.”
Baumbach and Gerwig are entwined, so to speak. They made Greenberg together in ’09. Baumbach got divorced from Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2010. He and Gerwig have allegedly been happening for the better part of two years.
Earlier today Richard Rushfield wrote a hilarious short piece about why the odds against an “industry person” getting laid in Los Angeles are really high. It basically comes down to his belief that if you’ve found success in the entertainment industry then you’re probably a major shit and your flaws are probably more appalling or more malignant than the Average Joe’s, and that no one wants to schtup, much less fall in love with, a person who is basically Dorian Gray so forget it, dutch — go work out, grab some takeout, watch a Bluray, play with your cats.
It’s true that the entertainment industry attracts the worst people in the world, but by this I mean those who are neurotically desperate to curry favor — the glad-handers, hangers-on, Starbucks gigglers, personal assistants, sucks-ups, kiss-asses, grossly insincere flatterers, wine-bar howlers, yes men, phonies. Los Angeles also attracts the finest crazy people in the world — the 24-7 obsessives, the most talented, the deepest, the funniest, the most mystical or hardcore, the most eccentric, the most impassioned, the trickiest, the most dedicated to art and achievement and truth and great suits and T-shirts.
Do you know which group probably gets laid a lot more? The former. Because the latter group doesn’t even think about getting laid 60% or 70% of the time. I know that being empty or shallow or not a very kind or thoughtful person will never, ever get in the way of having sex with someone attractive, or so I’ve deduced over the years. The hottest women always seem to be with the creepiest-looking or (judging by the vibes) most spiritually unappealing guys, or so it seems.
If a James Mason-like angel was to descend from heaven one night and sit down at a restaurant table and say, “Jeffrey, I’m afraid there’s no delicate way to put this but given your enormous work load and dedication to your column and your samurai poet aesthetic and general lack of patience with mounting a Gen. George S. Patton Third Army European tank campaign plus all the rest of the bullshit you have to submit to in order to have even a chance of striking a match with the right woman, the odds are very much against your ever getting lucky again, much less entering into a lasting, loving relationship,” I would be okay with that.
I would nod and shrug and say, “Yeah, you may be right…okay, got it, c’est la vie.” And at the same time I would say to myself that James Mason doesn’t know everything and that maybe I’ll get lucky regardless, but if he’s right then whatever…I’ve got a really full life going right now and I’ve got all my slut years (’70s and ’80s) to look back upon, and I can roll with that. On the other hand I’ve gotten lucky at the drop of a hat and lost my mind and lost all sense of proportion about things. For two or three weeks, I mean.
Rushfield: “If you work in the entertainment industry and you’re successful, then there is a small chance you are not a horrible person. If you are a horrible person, then you probably have horrible values and that applies especially to your romantic life and what you think you want from that. And that makes finding a suitable life partner challenging. [And] If you moved to LA to work in the entertainment industry and you are not successful, then everyone who moved to LA to work in the entertainment industry on some level wants to shun you as though you had the plague, which also makes finding a suitable life partner challenging.”
Something made me twitch a bit during my second viewing of Josh Radnor‘s Liberal Arts (IFC Films, 9.14), which I wrote admiring things about in early July and before that at Sundance last January. I’m speaking of a slight aversion to what I regard as an excessive amount of dewy-eyed sensitivity in Radnor — not only in the character he’s playing (a 35 year-old college admissions guy) but in his own temperament, as he’s the director-writer and is presumably drawing from the well.
The story is about Radnor visiting his college and falling into an infatuation with a 19 year-old sophomore (Elizabeth Olsen) and getting all glum and guilt-trippy about it. A voice inside was saying “will you ease with the sensitive shit and just tap it already?” I mentioned last month that I have a certain perspective as I felt a bit funny about having a relationship with a 19 year-old when I was 28. It does feel weird. Then again life is short and we all know Olsen will probably experience much more caring and compassion from Radnor than she would from some 19 or 20-year-old horndog.
And so I started to feel a bit impatient with Radnor’s girlyman hesitancy. He needs a little Vince Vaughn, some unregenerate guy-ness to round things out. You get the idea he doesn’t have a lot of primal energy inside him. Radnor is Woody Allen-esque but not as funny — he’s just not as good with the zingers and the comebacks. He’s all about being mental and morose and oh-so-attuned.
Radnor and Olsen are 16 years apart, and perhaps the best scene in the whole film is when Radnor figures out some equations. When I was 19 she was 3…bad. When I’m 41 or 42 Olsen will be 25 or 26…a little sketchy. But when I’m 50 she’ll be 34…a tiny bit better. When I’m 60 she’ll be 44…excellent! When I’m 70 she’ll be 54…perfect! When I’m 80 she’ll be 64…let’s get married right now! It can’t last? Maybe not, but what in life is guaranteed to be a long-term thing?
My thing with the 19 year-old when I was 28 was pretty wonderful, by the way. I did have a concern when she wound up dumping me after 18 months or so. I was devastated, in fact, but that’s life. All’s fair, rough and tumble, no assurances.
No offense, but Dawn Hudson and Hawk Koch‘s hiring of producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to produce the 85th Academy Awards means that it’ll be the same old lah-lah show it’s always been. Zadan and Meron are boomer-aged members of “the club” who share the same passion for theatrical pizazz, spunky musical numbers and Tin Pan Alley uplift that former Oscar show producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark showed when Hugh Jackman hosted in ’09. So the show will be “fun”, swanky, spirited, Vegas-flavored, etc.
Not a “problem” but sooner or later the boomers will have to step aside and the reins will be handed over to GenXers who didn’t grow up idolizing Liza Minnelli and Michael Bennett and A Chorus Line and that whole line of country…whose influences happened more in the ’80s and early ’90s than the late ’60s and ’70s Maybe not now but soon and for the rest of our lives…until the GenXers are one day pressured to pass the baton to a GenY producer, etc. Generational cycles and all that.
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