As Sailor Beware opened on February 9, 1952, this photo was almost certainly taken that month. You’d never know it from the billboard, but this Hal Wallis-produced film was shot in black-and-white. James Dean has a walk on-role with a single line of dialogue — “That guy’s a professional!” If memory serves, Nick Tosches‘ “Dino” biography reports that Martin and costar Corinne Calvet didn’t have it off before, during or after principal photography.
Yesterday Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone posted a list of likely or leading Best Actress contenders. She was smart to put Jennifer Lawrence at the top of the list for her spirited Silver Linings Playbook performance. It’s obviously early but in my view the other four are as follows: Keira Knightley for Anna Karenina, Marion Cotillard for Rust & Bone, Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha and maybe Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild…maybe.
Who’s left to be seen and possibly added? I’m asking.
As good as she is, I don’t think Compliance‘s Ann Dowd has much of a shot…sorry. Ditto Amour‘s Emmanuelle Riva, although I could be wrong. (She exudes grace and dignity.) But forget The Impossible‘s Naomi Watts (just a lot of bug-eyed gasping, screaming and hyperventilating) and Hope Springs‘ Meryl Streep (a relatively modest performance). I know nothing about Leslie Mann‘s performance in This Is Forty.
I’ve been writing off and on about the 9/11 story of lucky Port Authority employee Pasquale Buzzelli — i.e., “the 9/11 surfer” — for a good nine or so years. I’ve gotten to know Pasquale and particularly his wife, Louise, over that time. I tried helping them find a co-writer for Pasquale’s book, “We All Fall Down.” He and Louise and I had dinner in Manhattan six years ago — here’s a photo from that night.
From William Langeweische‘s account of Buzzelli’s experience:
“Buzzelli had just passed the 22nd floor when the North Tower gave way. It was 10:28 in the morning, an hour and 42 minutes after the attack. Buzzelli felt the building rumble, and immediately afterward heard a tremendous pounding coming at him from above, as the upper floors pancaked. Buzzelli’s memory of it afterwards was distinct. The pounding was rhythmic, and it intensified fast, as if a monstrous boulder were bounding down the stairwell toward his head.
“He reacted viscerally by diving halfway down a flight of stairs, and curling into a corner of a landing. He knew the building was failing. Buzzelli was a Catholic. He closed his eyes and prayed for his wife and unborn child. He prayed for a quick death.
“Because his eyes were closed, he felt rather than saw the walls crack open around him. For an instant the walls folded onto his head and arms, and he felt pressure, but then the structure disintegrated beneath him, and he thought, ‘I’m going,’ and began to fall. He kept his eyes closed. He felt the weightlessness of acceleration. The sensation reminded him of thrill rides he had enjoyed at Great Adventure, in New Jersey. He did not enjoy it now, but did not actively dislike it either. He did not actively do anything at all.
“He felt the wind on his face, and a sandblasting effect as he tumbled through the clouds of debris. He saw four flashes of light from small blows to the head, and then another really bright flash when he landed. Right after that he opened his eyes, and it was three hours later.
“He sat up. He saw blue sky and a world of shattered steel and concrete. He had landed on a slab like a sacrificial altar, perched high among mountains of ruin.
“There was a drop of fifteen feet to the debris below him. He saw heavy smoke in the air. Above his head rose a lovely skeletal wall, a lacy gothic thing that looked as if it would topple at any moment. He remembered his fall exactly, and assumed therefore that he was dead.
“He waited to see if death would be as it is shown in the movies — if an angel would come by, or if he would float up and see himself from the outside. But then he started to cough and to feel pain in his leg, and he realized that he was alive.”
On a 9/11 PBS documentary, Langeweische said at this point that Buzzelli was “lying on this altar. There’s no one around. It’s utterly silent. There’re no people around, nothing. It’s a wasteland desert in the middle of New York City. The buildings are gone, there’s smoke, and then there’s fire.
“At some point, he was quite certain — to make a long story short — that he was going to die from fire. So certain that he found a piece of jagged metal and was going to cut his wrists, in order not at least to burn to death. And he had gotten to that point when he was rescued.”
I made it through about 70 minutes worth of Andy and Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer‘s Cloud Atlas this morning. I’m sorry but for me this time-flipping tale of cosmic reincarnation and celestial cornholing felt and played like an off-and-on cavalcade of story fragments and makeup moments. I’d been told by a critic friend that if you can just get through the first hour it starts to pay off during the second and third hour (it lasts 163 minutes). But I couldn’t do it, man. I want to show respect but I just couldn’t stand it.
That’s not a judgment call, obviously. I’m not someone to listen to as how good or bad this film is, or whether it’s at least worth the price. I’m just syaing I couldn’t take it. It was too patchworky, too much, too scattered and brain-fucky. I sat there wondering if I should leave for a half-hour before I finally did. Give me a reason to stay, give me a reason to stay, etc. I know what it feels like to be engaged by a film that’s on the stick and double-downed and bringing it home, and Cloud Atlas wasn’t doing that, dammit. It really wasn’t.
I just didn’t feel after being up until 1:30 am last night and getting up at 6 am to bang out that To The Wonder review that I wanted to submit to a 163-minute workout. Maybe when it comes out on Bluray and I’m feeling energized and more rested or in a better mood or….who knows? But not today. I just couldn’t stand it.
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future”…fine, whatever, go with God.
The Olympian indifference and almost comical current of fuck-you nothingness that runs through Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder, which I saw last night at the Princess of Wales theatre, carries a certain fascination. I was prepared for it, having heard from Ben Affleck in Telluride that it “makes The Tree of Life look like Transformers” and having read the Venice Film Festival reviews. So it was hardly a shock to encounter a wispy, ethereal thing composed of flaky intimations and whispers and Emmanuel Lubezki‘s wondrous cinematography with maybe 20 or 25 lines of dialogue, if that.
It’s basically The Tree of Life 2: Oklahoma Depression. It’s Malick sitting next to you and gently whispering in your ear, “You wanna leave? Go ahead. Go on, it’s okay, I don’t care…do what you want. But you can also stay.”
And that’s the thing about this film. Malick gives you so little to grapple with (at least in terms of a fleshed-out narrative and that thing we’ve all encountered from time to time called “speech” or “talking” or what-have-you) that it’s pretty much your responsibility to make something out of To The Wonder‘s 112 minutes. It’s all about you taking a journey of your own devising in the same way we all take short little trips with this or that object d’art in a gallery or a museum. The film is mesmerizing to look at but mostly it just lies there. Well, no, it doesn’t “lie there” but it just kind of swirls around and flakes out on its own dime. Run with it or don’t (and 97% of the people out there aren’t going to even watch this thing, much less take the journey) but “it’s up to you,” as the Moody Blues once sang.
To The Wonder doesn’t precisely fart in your face. It leads you rather to wonder what the air might be like if you’ve just cut one in a shopping mall and there’s someone right behind you, downwind. That’s obviously a gross and infantile thing to think about, but To The Wonder frees you to go into such realms if you want. It’s your deal, man. Be an adult or a child or a 12 year-old or a buffalo. Or a mosquito buzzing around a buffalo. Naah, that’s dull. Be a buffalo and sniff the air as Rachel McAdams walks by! You can go anywhere, be anything. Which is liberating in a sense, but if you can’t or won’t take the trip you’ll just get up and leave or take a nap or throw something at the screen. Or get up and leave and head for the nearest mall.
I went with it. I wasn’t bored. Well, at least not for the first hour. I knew what I’d be getting into and I basically roamed around in my head as I was led and lulled along by Lubezki’s images and as I contemplated the narcotized blankness coming out of Affleck’s “Neil” character, who is more or less based on Malick. Or would be based on Malick if Malick had the balls to make a film about himself, which he doesn’t. If Malick had faced himself and made a film about his own solitude and obstinacy and persistence…wow! That would have been something. But Malick is a hider, a coward, a wuss. He used to be the guy who was up to something mystical and probing and mysterious. Now he tosses lettuce leaves in the air and leaves you to put them all into a bowl as you chop the celery and the carrots and the tomatoes and decide upon the dressing.
I came out of it convinced that I will never, ever visit Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where the film was mostly shot.
There’s a kind of mad breakout scene in the second half in which Romina Mondello, “playing” an Italian-born friend of Olga Kurylenko, who “plays” Ben Affleck‘s French wife, says “there’s nothing here!” and you’re sitting there in your slumber and going “no shit?” But it’s not just the place — it’s the emptiness and the nothingness that Affleck and Kurylenko, who have become lovers in her native Paris (just as Malick fell in love with and married Michelle Morette in the mid ’80s), bring to their blah-fart activities in the film — wandering around, making love, playing kid-wrestling games, staring at sunsets, moving this or that piece of furniture from one room to another or lifting it out of a cardboard box, etc. These are people who are investing in their own torpor. People who bring nothing to the table. Deadheads.
Kurylenko and McAdams did a brief q & a after the film, and Kurylenko talked about how her character is supposed to be a little “crazy” — unbalanced, obsessive. Except there’s nothing in the film that persuades you of this, or even hints at it, really. Her character is passionate and emotional and has no real compulsion in life — nothing to do except twirl around, make goo-goo or fuck-you eyes at Affleck, take care of her 12 year-old daughter, sleep, make love, wonder about stuff, prepare meals, wander, daydream.
I raised my hand and asked Kurylenko and McAdams if Malick ever talked about how the film is largely based on his own life and how this was at least a key part of the fabric of it all, and they both kind of looked at each other and then at the floor and more or less said, “Ask Terry…that’s his affair.”
From the TIFF press notes: “As Malick liberates himself more and more from the restrictions of conventional narrative and pursues a more associative approach, he gets closer to eliciting pure, subconscious responses from his viewers. It is gratifying to note that the same man who long ago wrote an uncredited draft of Dirty Harry now finds freedom in the transcendental.”
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »