Gold Derby‘a Tom O’Neil has a “wacky Best Picture race chart” up — a capturing of how Best Picture betting has fared over the last five weeks. Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were the front-runners on 9.23, but now Argo leads with 12 pundits out of 25 picking it to win. Les Miserables, which no one will see until early December, follows with 8. Prediction: the SLP haters will modify their positions after it opens on 11.21.
My initial reaction to the oncoming Hurricane Sandy (posted on Sunday) was that I wished I could be in New York to experience it. I still wish that. I also said it might be another Hurricane Irene and that New Yorkers who were “genuinely worried” struck me as a bit candy-assed. And I shouldn’t have said that. I apologize. I went past the limit. The worst is over now but Frankenstorm turned out to be a really heavy deal.
The house fires in Breezy Point, Queens especially. Just flat-out tragic. I understand and respect the hurt and the fear that Hurricane Sandy has caused. Of course I do. Very bad news for many millions. Very traumatic, unsettling all around. Seven million without power. The Con Ed sub-station explosion on East 14th Street. Hospital evacuations. 14 people dead. At least the worst is over.
Lewis Miller‘s Suddenly (’54) has always been a second-rate melodrama about an attempted assassination of a U.S. President by three psycho goonies (one played by Frank Sinatra). Many crappy-looking public domain VHS and DVD versions have appeared over the years, but a better looking Bluray version came out two weeks ago from HD Cinema. DVD Beaver’s Gary W. Tooze praises says it “actually supports some of the film’s grain structure” and it “seems the best of the digital editions.”
1.85 screen capture from one of the cheesy DVD versions of yore.
Screen capture from HD Video’s Bluray version.
But what a shame that it’s presented in a 1.37 aspect ratio…right? Look at that needless information on the top of the frame!
Last week I finally caught Julian Jarrold‘s The Girl on HBO. It seemed all right — not terrible, not difficult to watch — but I was bored for the most part, such that I couldn’t push out a review for this column. It may be at least a somewhat accurate portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock‘s cruel and creepy obsession with Tippi Hedren, the cool, brittle-mannered actress he chose to star in The Birds and Marnie. But The Girl is a tired tale about icky, tedious behavior.
It’s a modest, low-budgety, visually perfunctory thing that contains a skillful, well-tuned performance by Toby Jones (I got the idea that he might turn out to be a better Hitchcock than Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock) and a pretty good one by Sienna Miller, but it doesn’t build or snap open or go anywhere.
The story of an older, powerful, not very attractive man trying to persuade a beautiful young actress to sprinkle a little sexual sugar into his erotically starved existence…yes, fine, but there’s not enough there. Unrequited sexual obsession will never be interesting to anyone. Desperation can only turn up the need or the volume.
I didn’t feel sympathy for Jones’ Hitch, but I didn’t want to watch him behave in this sad manner. I’ve known Hitchcock all my life and while I’m not for a second disputing what went on with Tippi, I’d rather just put the icky Hitch in a cardboard box and take it out to the garage and put it on a high shelf.
I wouldn’t dispute the legend that Hitchcock was a bit of a twisted pretzel. Two Donald Spoto books about him, “The Dark Side of Genius” and “Spellbound By Beauty”, persuaded everyone that Hitch, by whatever pathetic process, allowed his feelings of erotic frustration to manifest into a bizarre obsession with Hedren, which led to acute pain and discomfort for both of them.
In the ’50s and ’60s Hitch was mesmerized by actresses who exuded that cool, blonde, quietly slutty ice-queen quality (Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Vera Miles, Hedren) and did what he could to mold these actresses into versions of this sexual ideal. And then he made Vertigo, a now-legendary 1958 drama about a man who falls in love with a classy erotic dream girl, watches her die and then re-molds a woman (Novak) he meets on the street into a version of the dead girl. Two years later he made Psycho, a classic 1960 horror film, in which a cool and brittle slut queen (played by Janet Leigh, who is first seen in a white bra and a slip in a crummy hotel room, having just fucked John Gavin on her lunch hour) is murdered in the shower. Hitch made films about his own interior realm, and his imagination was nothing if not perverse.
And then, from ’61 to ’64, Hitch completely devoted himself to making Hedren into the ultimate ice queen in The Birds and Marnie. Sadly, clumsily, he tried to take his professional relationship with her beyond a matter of craft and into the intimate, and he failed miserably. And now we’re obliged to ponder this sordid saga on HBO.
Please, Jones keeps saying to Miller. I’m not a dashing attractive fellow but I’m doing so much for you. Ecch, she keeps responding. No, really…please, he says again. I really am doing quite a lot for you. Can’t you do a little something for me? And she makes no attempt to hide her disgust. Hitch was a wealthy man after Psycho — why didn’t he just arrange for some ice-blonde hookers to drop by his Universal office after dinner hour? Because Hitch was hot for icy upscale class — real breeding, cultivation, refinement — and hookers don’t know how to do that.
I didn’t care at all for a scene in which Hitch is shooting that scene in The Birds in which Hedren climbs down a ladder on a Bodega Bay pier and starts up a small motor boat. The bay in The Birds is completely placid and lake-like, but in The Girl the scene is clearly being shot on a turbulent ocean cove, complete with high winds and whitecaps. Second-rate replications are what low-rent filmmaking is partly about.
The Presidential campaign might be “functionally over” (as MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell just said an hour ago) as of right now, due to Frankenstorm. The storm will rule between now and Wednesday or Thursday. So there’ll basically be some campaigning Friday through Monday — four days. Before that Obama gets to be the nation’s leader overseeing the vast recovery efforts and Shallow Mitt can’t afford to appear to care more about his election chances than the welfare and safety of hurricane victims.
FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver is saying the numbers are more or less where they were in June, and Romney is on record as being in favor of shutting down FEMA. I think the election is over as of today with the odds clearly favoring Obama squeaking through to a win.
There are no facts if you’re determined to reject them by hook or crook. There are no persuasive arguments or narratives. There is only what people want to believe.
Some meteorologists believe there is a clear relationship between Frankenstorm and reduced Arctic sea ice caused by human-driven climate change. In plainer reductionist language, the proponents of climate-change denial, which are largely collected under the Republican umbrella, are not wholly responsible but are almost certainly partly responsible for the Hurricane Sandy catastrophe now unfolding.
“It could very well be that general warming along with high sea-surface temperatures have lengthened the tropical storm season, making it more likely that a Sandy could form, travel so far north, and have an opportunity to interact with a deep jet-stream trough associated with the strong block, which is steering it westward into the mid-Atlantic,” Francis writes.
“While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic. Losing ice, reducing the poleward temperature gradient, and warming the entire climate system should contribute to increasing the likelihood of anomalous storms.”
A 2011 Mitt Romney statement in which he took a dim view of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and stated the disaster relief should be handled by the states and the private sector will almost certainly circulate around over the next two or three days. With Frankenstorm looming, will Joe and Jane Dumbass take note and draw lines between the dots?
“The Romney campaign said early Monday morning that Romney stood behind a statement first made during a 2011 Republican debate, in which Romney said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded, and its powers either privatized or given to the states,” says a 10.29 report.
“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” Romney said during a 2011 Republician debate. “And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”
“Asked by debate moderator John King if that included cutting disaster relief, Romney said, ‘We cannot…we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.'”