Does the fact that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Bros., 8.14) is set in 1963 mean that it’ll try to play like a film shot back then? Which is to say a lot of hard physical stuff without a lot of bullshit CGI to augment? I like that blase, easy-does-it tone in Henry Cavill‘s Napoleon Solo line readings. And Armie Hammer as Ilya Kuryakin….fine. But we know, of course, that nothing good can come of this with Guy Ritchie at the helm. If only Steven Soderbergh could have directed his own Man From U.N.C.L.E. from a screenplay by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant). Ritchie’s version was co-written by himself and Lionel Wigram.
You can’t tell anything from a trailer but this seems…well, spirited. A little too much like a Cameron Crowe-like romance about renewal and finding new sources of bliss and rapture, but how could it be anything else? I guess I’m ready to let go of my Son of Deep Tiki title. Pic was shot during the last third of 2013. Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel. Opening on 5.29.15.
Standards of hotness change over time. I’ve said more than a few times (most recently in an HE piece posted on 8.15.14) that sexual attractiveness standards have definitely evolved in favor of the notties over the last…oh, 10 or 12 years. We’re now living in an age, partly if not largely perpetrated by the films and scenarios of producer-director Judd Apatow, in which Schlumpies and Dumpies have been sold to the public as the kind of people you want to go out with, go home with, get married to, etc.
When I was in my 20s and carousing around Schlumpies and Dumpies got no action whatsoever. They stayed home, watched TV, wept in their beds, jerked off, etc. But today they make out. If a bearded guy in an Apatow movie has bigger breasts than Cameron Diaz and a dumpy milky-white body with eight or nine pimples on his fat white ass…cool! If a lead actress looks like one of the Andrews Sisters but with somewhat wider or heavier facial features…crazy mama!
I grew up in a world in which conventionally attractive or semi-attractive people used to be the ones who got laid the most often. Trust me — I used to do quite well at the Westport Players Tavern in the mid to late ’70s, and I had a good sense of what worked and what didn’t. And if a girl who looked like Trainwreck‘s Amy Schumer was to stroll into that scene, she would have had a nice time but she would not be ardently pursued by the flannel-shirt-wearing wolves, of which I was definitely one. By the standards of that time she just isn’t top-of-the-line…sorry.
But that was then and this is now, and today I was beaten and spat upon and kicked to the ground and damn near lynched for having stated what seems obvious to me, which is that Schumer is brilliant, talented and somewhat funny but she’s not grade-A or even B-plus material, certainly by my standards as well as those of any moderately attractive, fair-minded youngish heterosexual dude who’s feeling hormonal or what-have-you.
There’s a guy I’ve been visiting at Cedars Sinai who went into a coma early last October and just came out of it yesterday. I wasn’t there when he awoke but he called today to say thanks for stopping by all those times. (His mother told him about my four or five visits.) Then he said he’d gone online this morning and visited the latest Gold Derby and Gurus of Gold charts, and he wanted to know what the hell had happened to Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, which was the Best Picture front-runner for weeks on end. “Where’d it go?” he said. “What happened? It was the leading Best Picture contender…it was all over but the shouting and the formalities. Every last default-minded, deferring-to-Dave Karger Oscar expert had it at the top of their lists. What’s the most likely film to win Best Picture? Why…Unbroken! What else? And now it’s vanished.” I tried to break it to him easy. “What happened,” I explained, “is that Universal finally screened it, and a few days later the air had seeped out of the balloon. And then it just disappeared.” He asked me why. “It was the Christian torture-porn thing,” I said. What’s that? “There was something in the movie that said that the more a guy has been beaten and tortured, the braver and more beautiful and closer to God he is.” Oh, the guy said, suddenly sounding weaker and less curious. “Right now the only chance Unbroken has at the Oscars is Roger Deakins‘ nomination for Best Cinematography,” I said. “But it would be surprising to a lot of people I know if Birdman‘s Emmanuel Lubezki loses out.”
With Trainwreck (Universal, 7.17), director Judd Apatow is once again introducing a chubby-cheeked, whipsmart, not conventionally attractive, neurotically bothered female comic to a mass audience — first Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (’11), then Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls (’12) and now Amy Schumer, the star and writer of Trainwreck as well as the star of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. She’s obviously sharp and clever and funny as far as the woe-is-me, self-deprecating thing goes, but there’s no way she’d be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world. And yet that’s the apparent premise of Apatow’s film. Schumer’s wide facial features reminded me of a blonde Lou Costello around the time of Buck Privates, or Jennifer Aniston‘s somewhat heavier, not-as-lucky sister who watches a lot of TV. Don’t look at me — I’m not the one who made her the star of a film about a plucky, free-spirited girl that a lot of guys want to bang. You know who would be better in a film like this? An actress who’s nicely attractive, has the funnies and the soulful stuff besides? Jenny Slate.
Last night I saw Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox, 2.13), an absurd, CG-diseased, terminally unfunny James Bond spoof cartoon. Director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Layer Cake) has given this film all the stylish wit and macho gravitas of a candy cane, and if you pay to see this thing and say it’s “really fun” and that you had a nice brainless good time then there is really something wrong with you. But the film is not the topic right now — it’s the hairpiece worn by Colin Firth. I’ve been told by studio reps that Firth doesn’t wear one as secret agent Harry Hart but…c’mon, guys, it’s quite obvious that he does. Off-screen Firth has never had a hair-loss issue so there’s no “reason” for the rug but nonetheless…there it is! Then it hit me. Vaughn, I’m guessing, told Firth to wear the hairpiece as an homage to Sean Connery‘s 007 hairpieces that were worn in Goldfinger, Thunderball and beyond. The film is a spoof of those years and that legend, of course. Why anyone decided that making a 007 spoof 53 years after the debut of Dr. No was a good idea is beyond my reasoning abilities, but that’s what Kingsman is.
(l.) Colin Firth au natural; (r.) Firth with Connery-like Goldfinger rug in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Notice the fullness of the coif, the slightly lower-on-the-forehead, overly clean hairline, and the lump of hair cascading off to the side of the part. The guy he’s terrorizing, by the way, is Mark Hamill, who looks like Richard Attenborough after becoming a full-on drunk and falling off his diet regimen.
I’ve known what Uma Thurman has looked like for the last 25 years so don’t tell me. This is not Invasion of the Body Snatchers — this is The Guy Who Did My Eyes Overdid It along with He Also Told Me to Not Wear Eye Makeup For A Couple of Weeks. If this is the new Uma then I’m no longer interested…no offense. A woman’s eyes are no longer the windows of her soul but a measure of how she’s coping with age. Uma’s been Zellwegered. In a sense we all have.
(l.) Old Uma Thurman; (r.) Uma replacement on red carpet for Monday night’s premiere of The Slap.
The real Thurman (with Penn Badgley) last December during filming of The Slap.