John Turturro‘s Fading Gigolo is a gentle, Brooklyn-based, light-touch, indie-romantic fable. It’s a lot quieter and tenderer and less schticky than the trailer indicates. It’s appealing in a burnished, old-fashioned way, and it happens in a realm entirely (and in some ways charmingly) of Turturro’s imagining and making. The atmosphere is one of reverence, nostalgia, dignity, reserve, romance, class, kindness, caring, tradition. Eroticism, trust me, barely pokes through. The big standout element is gap-toothed Vanessa Paradis making her English-language debut. But this American Beauty-influenced poster makes no sense for a movie this discreet. I would go so far as to call it blatantly dishonest.
I’m late to the table as this Kevin Smith “Fatman on Batman” podcast posted on 9.2, but it was mentioned today that Smith tells a funny story about myself and Ben Affleck and the old Dogma controversy, which I reported on during my Mr. Showbiz days, and which all came out of a round-table discussion during the Armageddon junket. Affleck denied it and called me a “chump” and a “chucklehead,” etc. Funny stuff, old water under the bridge, 15 years ago.
This is beyond picayune or peripheral but now that my Toronto Film Festival is almost over I thought I’d mention that for the last seven days or so I’ve been making instant coffee in my little apartment without stove-heated (or electric-heated) water, but with hot water out of the tap in the bathroom basin. And it hasn’t been that bad. A lot of spoiled people out there (I’m speaking mostly of wealthy boomers and older GenXers) go around every day demanding that their coffee-bean drink has to be served just so, and I’m just saying that the world would be a kinder, gentler place if they could dial some of that shit back a bit. I have fairly high standards when it comes to preparing or savoring good coffee, but anyone can adjust to anything if they’ve a mind to. I’m just saying that hot-tap-water instant isn’t so terrible. You just have to Zen up and suck it in.
“No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.” — from Vladimir Putin’s Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s N.Y. Times.
The about-to-happen screening I’m most interested in catching is the IMAX 3D version of Victor Fleming‘s The Wizard Of Oz, which is showing on Sunday morning at 10 am in Manhattan. I’m naturally presuming that the Warner Bros. technicians made extra-double-sure that this 1939 classic was converted with the utmost care and exactitude. This will be the first time in my life seeing a major-studio golden-age film from the 1930s in 3D, or any venerated classic from any era in this format. Would I like to see Howard Hawks‘ Only Angels Have Wings in 3D? Or Red River or White Heat or Young Mr. Lincoln or The Big Sleep? Nobody needs to see 3D versions of any of these films but I would be genuinely interested and beat a path if the conversions were done right.
Incidentally: During last spring’s 1.37-vs.-1.66 Shane brouhaha Warner Home Video’s Vice President of remastering Ned Price (i.e., one of the guys talking about the Oz 3D conversion in the above video) told me in an email that “I for one, don’t think you are worthy of anyone’s time.” I hereby forgive Price for saying this. It is always a good thing for the victor to be magnanimous.
A friend just asked me what my Toronto Film Festival schedule looks like on this, my last full day here. (I’m flying back to NYC tomorrow afternoon.) And I said. “Oh, I dunno…I’ve missed the start of the three-hour Eleanor Rigby movie with Jessica Chastain so, I guess, Mathew Saville and Joel Edgerton‘s Felony? Or Bruce McDonald’s The Husband…? Actually, naahh. I love how the TIFF programmers schedule only the films you have to talk yourself into seeing during the last couple of days, and yet they invariably schedule the hottest must-see films against each other during the first four or five days, which means you’re always going to miss a few of these — brilliant.
Nobody was more delighted by Jonathan Glazer‘s Sexy Beast (’00) than myself. I will revere that stone classic (particularly Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone‘s performances) for the rest of my life. And while I was nowhere near as turned on by Glazer’s Birth (’04) I more or less approved as far as that went. But his latest, Under The Skin, which I saw the day before yesterday, is profoundly alienating — dull, meandering, murkily photographed, incoherent, nothing. It is not a pleasant or welcome thing to consider the possibility that Glazer has completely lost that spark or spirit or deliciously bent perspective that informed or at least contributed to the excellence of Sexy Beast, but Under The Skin demands as much. I sat there and sat there, waiting for “it” to happen, for any notion of what this film might be saying or even hinting at, for anything at all to come together in my head…and nothing happened. My eyes glazed over. My spirit sank into the swamp.
Vince Vaughn went there and apologized in October 2010, or about three years ago. Brett Ratner went there and apologized the following year (i.e., November 2011). And now Nymphomaniac director Lars von Trier has gone there and he, too, will presumably have to apologize. In a just-published article in the Norwegian film magazine Montages.no, Von Trier is quoted offering a kind of rationale as to why his film has no slow-motion footage, to wit: “What is [slow-motion] about? It is so gay!”