Gary Oldman said what he felt he needed to say on Jimmy Kimmel tonight. He obviously didn’t say what he really thinks. He collapsed in a heap on the church steps and said what he felt was necessary to put out the fires and get off the hot seat. He and his manager Doug Urbanski had obviously been told in no uncertain terms that the non-apologetic apology Oldman offered to the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday didn’t cut it, and that he’d have to really beg for mercy. And so he called himself “an ayehole” on top of everything else. But it was politically correct theatre.
“You hear some men say, this is a scary thing for me. I’m now aware of my child’s needs but I’m in a battle about whether or not I can actually fulfill them. Do I have the stuff that they’re going to need?” Wells to new dads who’ve allegedly expressed thoughts along these lines: “You’re in a ‘battle’ about whether or not you can fulfill your child’s needs? A ‘battle‘? What are you, an asshole? An alcoholic? Man up and do the right things for your kid. You know what they are — just do them, ya pathetic fuck. If you can’t man up somebody or something else will step in and influence your son or daughter in your absence. Either way you’re making me sick. If I could step into this Johnson & Johnson short film and bitch-slap your ass for the fun of it, I would.”
Steve James‘ Life Itself, a doc about the late Roger Ebert, “could have settled for well-meaning hagiography or a feature-length pitch for sainthood. Many of Ebert’s far-flung fans and admirers…may have preferred it that way. It’s a relief to report Life Itself is better than that. It’s a clear-eyed portrait of a complicated, Falstaffian figure. The film is a little soft, and tactful to a fault. Yet it’s a work of taste and generosity, in keeping with its subject, and James ensures that it avoids the hometown-hero “attaboy!” attitude some feared might come of such a project. [At the end of the day this] is a big-hearted, absorbing documentary about a writer who kept on writing until very near the end. Anyone who cared about Ebert will find it necessary viewing.” — from a 1.23.14 review by the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips.
Late yesterday Gary Oldman apologized for going too far in his just-published Playboy interview by defending the mouthy Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin, both of whom have gotten into trouble for using politically incorrect terminology regarding gays and Jews. Oldman said he was especially sorry for saying Gibson’s situation was exacerbated because he works “in a town that is run by Jews.”
Oldman apology: “I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy interview were offensive to many Jewish people. Upon reading my comments in print I [can] see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter. If, during the interview, I had been asked to elaborate on this point I would have pointed out that I had just finished reading Neal Gabler’s superb book about the Jews and Hollywood, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. The fact is that our business, and my own career specifically, owes an enormous debt to that contribution.”
Oldman translation: “Neal Gabler can say that Jews run (or have run) Hollywood because he’s a Jew who’s made this statement in the context of a scholarly historical study of Hollywood that everyone respects. But I can’t say the same thing because (a) I’m not a Jew but a conservative-minded South London working-class bloke, (b) I haven’t written a scholarly historical study of Hollywood that everyone respects, and (c) I made the mistake of bringing up this cultural assertion while discussing Mel Gibson, who became an un-person in this town when it was revealed that he harbors anti-Semitic views while drunk. Behind closed doors and over cigars and brandy powerful people always discuss others in terms of their tribal tendencies and interests and what their alliances and prejudices probably are as a result. But you can’t talk this bluntly in public and it was my error to assume I could do so in an interview. My bad.”
You text someone and they text back six or eight hours later. I’m sorry but that’s a slight form of rudeness by today’s standards. Same thing if you leave a voice message and you don’t hear back until the next day or even 36 hours later. When you take this long to reply you’re basically saying to the other person, “I got your message but I decided right away that replying to it was not exactly a grade-A priority for me so, you know, I got back to you in my own time…no worries, no hurry, chill.” Really? Because replying in this manner isn’t much different than being asked a question by a friend at a cocktail party and responding by (a) avoiding eye contact with the friend for two or three minutes and (b) ignoring the question for the same amount of time. I make a point of always responding to texts within minutes. I might take an hour or so if I have a lot going on, but I would never respond six or ten or 24 hours later…never. Same thing with voicemails.
But that’s me. I’m in the back-and-forth communication business and things are always moving at a fast pace so you can’t slack off. Others don’t see it this way. Others feel they have to protect their souls by responding slowly or randomly or lazily. Texting rudeness almost never happens among under-45s, trust me, but it occurs with some regularity among over-45s and particularly when you’re dealing with boomer or older-GenX females. They just don’t care to respond with any haste, and they don’t consider it especially rude either. Older women feel that texting and phone messaging are very slight violations of their souls, you see. Responding in a polite manner is an intrusion upon their privacy and sense of serenity, they feel, so they take their time. They feel it’s almost a point of honor to hold back on a response to a text. When a text comes in it’s almost seen as a troublesome thing. They need to ponder the message, take a walk, buy some things at the local Whole Foods, go to a Pilates class, meet friends at a local cafe, visit their doctor, walk their dog and then respond to the text message they received six or seven hours earlier or the day before.
I didn’t see Naomi Foner‘s Very Good Girls at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It has a high-pedigree cast — Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Peter Sarsgaard — but the Rotten Tomatoes reactions haven’t been good. You want me to cover this up? From Alissa Simon‘s 1.23.13 Variety review: “The screenplay is so vapid and cliched, and the casting so terrible, that viewers may wind up entertaining themselves with other thoughts: For instance, how can Fanning be so unnaturally pale? What SPF of sunscreen must she have to wear in the beach scenes? And doesn’t Olsen strikingly resemble Foner’s daughter Maggie Gyllenhaal in her Secretary days?”
All this time I’ve been presuming that David Ayer‘s Fury would be mostly about bullshit comic-book exaggeration, or a World War II combat film made for videogame geeks. Or imbued with the sardonic fake-itude of Inglourious Basterds. Faintly or spottily realistic at times but full of cranked-up CG violence and more or less aimed at the Croc-wearing ComicCon faithful. Now I’m suddenly considering that it might be Steven Spielberg‘s Saving Private Ryan mixed with Lewis Milestone‘s Pork Chop Hill, Raoul Walsh’s Battle Cry and maybe a little bit of Robert Aldrich‘s Attack. Could this be true? I’m saying this because all trailers lie.
Regarding yesterday’s post about the apparent indifference being expressed by MGM honcho Gary Barber about the deteriorating 70mm elements for John Wayne‘s The Alamo (’60), a prominent film critic has written the following: “This ridiculous Alamo situation seems to have reached the point where an effort should be made to rally the big boys —Scorsese, Spielberg, Fincher, Cameron, Lucas, Nolan, whomever else — to speak out about this and hopefully embarrass the hell out of Barber and anyone else at MGM who might be standing in the way of someone else paying to restore the film. Surely then the MGM executives could find a magnanimous way of saying that while it was not their first priority or, better yet, how they were unaware of the perilous condition of the 70mm materials until these esteemed filmmakers brought it to our attention, by all means they want this treasured, Best Picture-nominated American classic to be restored to its full large-format glory for the edification of future generations.”
If anyone can get through to the above-named heavyweights and ask if they’d be willing to sign a group letter to Barber which would then be posted for Gary Barber and everyone else to read, please assist.
Eli Wallach was the uncle of N.Y. Times A.O. Scott? Somehow or some way that information had eluded me until this morning. The greatly admired Wallach passed into the infinite late yesterday, at age 98. I was starting to crash when I read the news around 11 pm or so Pacific, and my first flash was his performance as the fiery Caldera in John Sturges‘ The Magnificent Seven (’60). Wallach may have regarded Seven as a paycheck gig (“Movies are a means to an end…I go and get on a horse in Spain for ten weeks, and I have enough cushion to come back and do a play”) but Caldera is eternal and certainly rules this morning.
Wallach had been cast as Private Maggio in Fred Zinneman‘s From Here to Eternity (’53), but then the mafia left a horse’s head in Harry Cohn‘s bed one morning and Frank Sinatra got the role instead. Seriously, Wallach abandoned Maggio when he was given a starring role in Elia Kazan‘s production of Tennessee Williams‘ Camino Real. Sinatra was overjoyed. Wallach was touching and feisty but not quite commanding as the lonely and widowed Guido in John Huston‘s The Misfits. I never much cared for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — too many pretentious close-ups, too much of a strenuous attempt to push its own mythology — so Wallach’s role in that admittedly legendary film never sunk into my head…sorry. Oh yeah, that’s right — he had a supporting role in The Godfather, Part III but nobody likes to think of that film. Better to sweep it under a rug.