What films did you once love or have a thing for, but which you’ve lately or gradually come to regard as over-valued or somewhat less charming? Films you’ve grown past and/or seen through. Or, if you want to be buoyant about it, films you didn’t much care for when young, but which you’ve come to appreciate with age and experience or whatnot.
I’ve never told this story before, but I experienced it first-hand in Manhattan about 30 years ago. Sit me down with a lie detector and I’ll pass with flying colors because it’s all perfectly true. The details won’t stagger anyone, but I want it fully understood I’m not making it up. It’s just one of those life-lesson stories that repeats the old adage about “you are your friends and vice versa.”
I was inside a new Italian restaurant on Columbus Ave., a block or two south of the Museum of Natural History. It had opened maybe a day or two earlier, and I remember sipping a vodka and lemonade (my drink back then) and talking to the bartender. There was a big noisy party at a big table in the main dining room. I asked the bartender what the ruckus was and he said, “Oh, that’s the owners and their investors…big dinner.”
I stuck my head inside and noticed that one of the guys at the table was an especially loud, large-framed, overweight guy who looked like a walrus. He was holding a drink in his hand and laughing with great merriment and going “Awwgghhh! Awwgghhh!” as he listened to somebody at the table say something wildly hilarious. He was kind of bouncing up and down in his seat and slapping others on the shoulder and going “awwhh-haaawwwhh!”
Right away I thought to myself, “That guy’s with the owners?” This new restaurant was trying to sell itself as a serious class act, and this guy was the kind of coarse beast you’d find at some neighborhood restaurant in Astoria or Bushwick on a Saturday night, not that there’s anything wrong with Astoria or Bushwick.
15 or 20 minutes later I was in the bathroom and the “awwgghh!” guy sauntered in and went right over to a urinal and did three things at precisely the same time — farted loudly, belched loudly and began to relieve himself. Perfect synchronization.
I knew then and there that this new restaurant wouldn’t make it. I think I actually muttered to myself “okay, that’s it” when I heard the belch-fart. Because any Upper West Side resturateur who has animals for friends will sooner or later lose favor with the locals, I reasoned. Having coarse friends means you have no taste and your judgment stinks, and that kind of thing tends to spread out in all directions.
Four or five months later the restaurant had closed.
At 3 pm this afternoon I attended a Sony Studios screening of Rian Johnson‘s Looper (9.28). I can’t discuss this imaginative sci-fi actioner until it plays Toronto next week, but I can at least get into the fact that Sony felt obliged to hire a security guy to stand on the side aisle of the screening room (#23 inside the Jimmy Stewart building) and stare intently at the viewers, most of whom appeared to be veteran editors, journos and columnists.
I understand about security goons keeping an eye on all-media invitees inside large theatres, but inside a small screening room? What are the odds that Hitfix‘s Greg Ellwood or MCN‘s David Poland or TheWrap‘s Steve Pond or Deadline‘s Pete Hammond (who were there this afternoon) are going to pull out a iPhone and start video-recording? You tell me.
When you’re trying to watch a film it’s at least slightly bothersome to have Creasy from Man On Fire standing 15 or 20 feet away and staring a hole in the side of your head. I was half-watching Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis go through the blam-blam, time-travel paces and half silently saying to this business-suited goon, “Yo, homie…would you mind sitting down and stop creeping up and down the aisle? Your presence is messing with my concentration.”
Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Universal to watch a new DCP of Vertigo, which is the basis of the forthcoming Bluray. I’m not going to share my reactions until later, but it did leave me wondering if Vertigo really and truly deserves its #1 position in the 2012 Sight and Sound poll. Every time I see it it gets a little creakier, just a little bit harder to get lost in. I used to think this 1958 film was eerily haunting and slightly spooky and totally swimming in emotional obsession like few other films in history, but it’s getting old and the Eisenhower-era seams are showing.
Maybe it’s because I’ve seen Vertigo too many times, but more and more I’m noticing and getting stopped by the exasperating, flat-footed aspects. That expository dialogue in that early scene in Midge’s apartment. James Stewart‘s inability to be even slightly covert as he follows Kim Novak around San Francisco. That nonsensical moment when the landlady of the McKittrick Hotel says that Novak hasn’t been in the hotel, a lame tease on Hitchcock’s part. Novak’s pathetic line to Stewart in her hotel room: “Like me?” Novak’s stupidity in putting on the Carlotta necklace. The absurdity of a heavily shadowed nun scaring Novak enough to fall or leap put of the San Juan Batista bell tower. I’m sorry but all these things were vaguely irritating me and then some.
Hollywood Elsewhere’s 45 or 46 Greatest Films of All Time: The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull, High Noon, Zodiac, Strangers on a Train, Barry Lyndon (except for the dead zone portion in Act Three), L’Avventura, Citizen Kane, The Social Network, North by Northwest, The Godfather, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, Shane, Sexy Beast, Taxi Driver, Some Like It Hot, Children of Men, On The Waterfront, The Wizard Of Oz, The Limey, the Sopranos epic, The Train, Goodfellas, On The Waterfront, Sunset Boulevard, The American Friend, Psycho, Blow Up, Prince of The City, Full Metal Jacket, L’eclisse, United 93, Vertigo, Deliverance, The Hit, Purple Rose of Cairo, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Only Angels Have Wings, Lolita, Bloody Kids, Amores perros.
Apart from noting that four costars in Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder — Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen and Amanda Peet — have been cut out of the final version, Deadline‘s Nancy Tartaglione is reporting from the Venice Film Festival that the film, due to screen on Sunday, “more closely resembles Badlands rather than, say, Tree of Life.”
This, at least, is what Tartaglione “understand[s]” from having spoken to some buyer or distributor or tipster of some kind.
If To The Wonder was some kind of substantive cousin of Badlands, which some contend is Malick’s best film ever, some kind of buzz to this effect would have surely seeped through by now. I’m not going to say any more except that I’m highly suspicious of this analogy.
What I don’t understand is why the headline for Tartaglione’s story states that “Terrence Malick Leaves Venice.” The story makes no mention of Malick having arrived in Venice in either a literal or metaphorical sense, and certainly no mention of his having left it.
I’ve spoken of this sequence before but I couldn’t find the right clip until this morning,. This is Charlotte Rampling‘s most searing moment. Half of the power of this sequence is in the cutting, of course, but it’s nonetheless one of the most emotionally naked exposures any actress has offered in any mainstream film.
My second reaction risks sounding insensitive or brutish, but it’s true: this is the kind of woman who tends to be mostly problematic if not impossible in a working-it-through, day-to-day relationship sense, but is breathtaking in bed. I’m sorry but this is what my life experience has taught me. Moderate, emotionally healthy, well-rounded women are surely better, more dependable partners, but they tend to be less mad and less perverse in an erotic sense.
Andrew Sullivan: I was only wrong in sensing that the Republican party might just have the good grace and patriotism to cooperate with an incoming president…in the worst recession since the 1930s. I’m sorry, but they set out to destroy this guy from the get-go. Of all the countries in the world…we’ve done better [in recovering from the ’08 meltdown] than any western country over the last three years.”
Current‘s David Shuster tweeted yesterday afternnoon that “GOP attendee [has been] ejected for throwing nuts at African American CNN camerawoman + saying ‘This is how we feed animals.'” Convention organizers actually said that two GOP-ers were ejected for same.
A convention spokesperson responded as follows: “We regret to say that our electoral base is partly compromised of racist assholes, but what do you want us to say or do? We need to be cool or at least at par with these jerks in order to get elected and stay in office.” Kidding!
Convention organizers in fact said that “two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”
CNN’s statement: “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”