Hollywood Elsewhere to Dylan Wells, director-writer of this ad: “I know it’s a plug for Digilant Do Better Advertising. I’m not entirely sure what’s being said, but IT DOESN’T MATTER because the ad is socially critical. It’s saying that the ad world (or the world at large) is filled with faceless boxhead drones, and Digilant is offering a possibly liberating alternative. What matters is that it’s stylistically distinctive in a William S. Burroughs-ian vein. Very clever. Really cool.”
HE prediction: Every last Oscar hotshot predicting a Lincoln Best Picture win at the Oscars — Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, L.A. Times contributor Mark Olsen, Toronto Star‘s Pete Howell and MCN’s David Poland — will fold and turn tail after Argo‘s Ben Affleck wins the top Directors Guild award tomorrow night.
Spielberg blew it with the Clinton endorsement at the Golden Globes. He overplayed his hand and exposed his hunger. That was the thing that tore it.
This scene from The Sting is one of Robert Redford‘s very best, right up there with his performance in The Candidate and that farewell to Barbra Streisand‘s Katey scene in front of the Plaza in The Way We Were. In the space of 61 seconds Redford goes through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and mostly without dialogue. It starts with “You stink, Mister” at 1:37, continues with his slumping into the chair at 2:06 and finishes at 2:38 with “Will you wait until the chump is played?”
The spirited, frequently blunt-spoken and generally well-liked Ed Koch, New York mayor from 1978 to 1989, left the earth early this morning. Koch had the personality of a real New Yorker, a guy who spoke straight from the shoulder, and everyone got that. I understood and to a certain extent respected his decision to keep his private life private, but others didn’t feel that way.
From Koch’s Wikipedia bio: “In And the Band Played On, his influential history of the early AIDS epidemic in America, Randy Shilts discussed the possibility that Koch ignored the developing epidemic in New York City in 1982-1983 because he was afraid of lending credence to rumors of his homosexuality.
“Author and activist Larry Kramer described the former mayor as a ‘closeted gay man’ whose fear of being ‘outed’ kept him from aggressively addressing the AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early 1980s. Kramer lampooned Koch’s sexuality and perceived indifference to the plight of AIDS victims in The Normal Heart, in which the protagonist, an AIDS activist, lamented that the only way to get the mayor’s attention was to ‘hire a hunky hustler and send him up to Gracie Mansion with our plea tattooed on his cock.’
“John Cameron Mitchell‘s movie Shortbus featured a gay Koch-like older gentleman lamenting his poor choices while mayor of New York City.
“In the 2009 Kirby Dick documentary Outrage, investigative journalist Wayne Barrett of The Village Voice stated that Koch was gay.”
I don’t like admitting it, but I’m going to die one day. Paul Thomas Anderson is going to die. Terrence Stamp is going to die. Harvey Weinstein is going to die. Michael Cieply is going to die. James Rocchi is going to die. Tom O’Neil is going to die. Scott Feinberg is going to die. Each and every person in my present-tense realm — every columnist, blogger, print journalist, publicist, ad buyer, distribution executive — will one day breathe his or her last and pass into the infinite. Ed Koch got there today. It happens ever day. As natural as breathing.
Everyone knows The Master‘s Amy Adams is going to lose to Les Miserables‘ Anne Hathaway in the Best Supporting Actress race, but the morning after she’ll still be Amy Adams (and Hathaway will still be Hathaway) and that’s cool all around. She’s next in Spike Jonze‘s Her, she starts work soon on David O. Russell‘s ABSCAM movie, and she might do a Janis Joplin movie after that.
Adams’ big-time career has has been happening for almost eight years. I liked her in Junebug (’05) but hated, hated, hated the film’s red-state value system. I thought she was okay in Enchanted (’07) but I was getting tired of the goodie-two-shoes thing at that point. I like her in Charlie Wilson’s War. I thought she was aces in Doubt (’08) but just okay in Sunshine Cleaning (’09) and Julie & Julia (’09). She was fierce and brilliant in The Fighter — she should have won the Oscar for that. And she’s just as good in Trouble With The Curve, I feel, as she was in The Master.
The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson had some choice remarks about Amy Adams at the end of last night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival Vanguard tribute. This is how super-brilliant guys who think entirely for themselves and trust in the audience’s ability to understand and enjoy their slightly perverse sense of humor…this is what they’re like and who they are. This is why Paul Thomas Anderson is eternally cool.
Every year I remind the world that Best Picture contenders are never chosen for their cinematic chops and stylings, which only film critics and geek obsessives respond to for the most part. They are chosen for what they observe about life and the values they espouse, and how much everyone agrees with same. So here’s a rundown of the values and observations of the year’s Best Picture contenders:
Michael Haneke‘s Amour. Chief observation: You’re going to die when you hit your 80s or 90s, and it’s going to be slow and awful and agonizing. The odds are heavily against a pleasant death in which you serenely go to sleep in your bed. There is therefore something to be said for leaving this planet by way of a drug overdose or in the manner of John F. Kennedy. Values: Caring for someone who’s going through this terrible finality is sad but enobling, but either way dying through old age is a shit sandwich.
Ben Affleck‘s Argo. Chief observation: Americans are basically good guys — they just want to live their lives in peace and not be attacked by unruly Islamic mobs. Affleck’s Tony Mendez was the CIA guy to handle a tough situation (i.e., how to help several U.S. Embassy staffers get out of Iran during the 1979 and ’80 hostage crisis), and he pulled it off. Values: You have to be smart and cagey to figure your way out of a tough spot, and you also need friends in high places and they need to convince their friends to do the right thing. We’re the good guys. Everything works out in the end. Yay, team.
Behn Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Chief observation: Life au natural among itinerants in the Louisiana delta is an intensely colorful, aromatic, atmospheric feast for the soul and the senses. A drunken, tough-love dad who badgers and goads and yells at the top of his lungs is just what a little girl needs to learn the ropes of survival. Values: You’ve got to re-connect with your lost momma to make things whole, and your daddy needs to keep swillin’ that rum.
Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. Chief observation: Slavery was very bad. Southern slave owners of the late 1850s were scumbags who deserved every ugly thing that happened to them. The Ku Klux Klan was pretty bad also. But the worst of all were the Uncle Toms who went along with the system. Values: Revenge is a dish best served bloody.
Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables. Chief observation: Life was no picnic in the old days, especially among the poor and dispossessed. There’s only one solution for the Inspector Javerts of this world, and that’s jumping off a bridge into the river. Life is constant pain, toil, grime, bruising, anguish, hurt. But sharing your feelings with song helps. Values: If you’re going to have any kind of happy or tolerable time on this planet, you’re going to have to man up and persevere. You must have sand. You must stand up and fight back.
Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi. Chief observation: Making your way across the Pacific in a large rowboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker is very boring. Lesson: If you want to regard your life in straight factual terms, fine. But if you prefer to contemplate the metaphors, knock yourself out.
Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. Chief observation: Abraham Lincoln was a brilliant, soft-spoken politician who knew how to read people and persuade them to do his bidding. And much of his life in early 1865 was atmospherically striking due to the intense milky alien-space-ship light pouring through the White House windows and through the huge nonexistent windows in the House of Representatives. Values. Sly, slow and steady wins the race. A sense of moral urgency helps also. If you’re on the right side of an issue, you have to honor that rightness by being a smarter operator and poker player than the guys on the other side.
David O. Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook. Chief observation: We’re all a little bit unhinged when it comes to obsessing about what we think we want and not seeing what’s right in front of us. Family and community matter a great deal; ditto crabby snacks. Focus on something greater than the lint in your navel if you want to climb out of the hole you’re in. Values: Face up to your situation. Nutter, know thyself. If taking meds gets rid of the clutter and helps you settle down and gain a little clarity then take the damn meds already. Hotness is overrated — people who are tough, smart and loyal are the ones with the most value. It’s not your concern that Ernest Hemingway didn’t believe in happy endings. The guy shot himself, okay? And he probably drank too much rum. Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty. Chief observation: Finding and killing Osama bin Laden required the tireless efforts of a lot of CIA people over a very long period. And it might not have happened at all had it not been for an especially dedicated woman who had no life except this. Some very unpleasant things happen when you’re determined to accomplish the Big Thing, regardless of the karma effect. There are no ends, only means. Values: Smarts, tenacity and perseverance are extremely important traits. You knew that before, but we’re telling you that again.
What’s so Super Bowl-y about this? I’ve seen this scene with Brad, wife and the kids in the car with Brad getting out of the car in midtown, etc. It’s more or less a reboot, and it’s just not good enough. I want farm-fresh dialogue, fresh plot elements, intimate revelations, “ooh, wow,” shocking discoveries.