A N.Y. Times Cultural Studies article about “resting bitch faces,” written by Jessica Bennett and dated 8.1, caught my attention yesterday. Otherwise known as RBF, the Facebook-shared term refers to that expression we all get when we’re not turning on the charm for friends or a camera, when we’re bored or driving or vaguely pissed about something. Kind of a blank frowny face. Bennett says that the label has apparently caused some consternation among women who don’t want to be perceived as being any kind of pouty pisshead because guys will be turned off. Or something like that.
The piece hit home because I was told the same thing once by a former girlfriend (“Why are you always frowning?) and I’ve never forgotten it. That old saying that “the face you have at 40 is your own” began to haunt me. And then in the late ’80s I began to notice that my mouth had developed downturned corners. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to have a resting bastard fuckface and I’ve been working against my “permafrown” ever since.
I consciously try to half-smile at all times when I’m walking around, and I try to concentrate on alpha waves and positive thoughts and…you know, funny things I’ve written about and the Baghavad Gita and stuff like that. I try and exude a certain cosmic serenity and I never step on cracks in the sidewalk. God help me but I don’t want to look like Hillary Clinton…you know, that hangdog, crabby-faced thing. I want to look relatively happy and at peace with life or at least semi-content.
Ricki and The Flash (TriStar, 8.7) has been pre-screened and junketed and interviewed up the lah-lah, but so far no reviews. Which is a bit unusual for a film opening four days hence. But it’s very pleasing to see, for once, a mother and a daughter played by actresses (Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer) who actually, for obvious reasons, resemble each other. Unlike 99.5% of the other mother-daughter pairings in Hollywood movies, who don’t even look like they could be cousins. The less-than-totally-cool, non-junketing all-media types (i.e., people like myself) will take a gander at Jonathan Demme and Diablo Cody’s latest tomorrow night. Fingers crossed.
Deadline‘s Michael Fleming: “After all the summer frivolity for young audiences, is it time for adults to step back into the pool? Tom Rothman is betting big with the upcoming Ricki and the Flash. The film opens Friday, in the slot that brought success for the Helen Mirren-starrer The Hundred Foot Journey and other adult films.” Is that a “money” analogy? Who saw or paid the slightest attention to The Hundred Foot Journey apart from journos and industry bluehairs? If you ask me Fleming has just stabbed Ricki and the Flash in the chest with a sharp pencil.
The thrust of this Terrence Rafferty piece in The Atlantic is that under-40 American actors don’t have the chops and the snap and the vitality that same-generation British actors do, and that this American fraternity of younger male thesps is…well, what’s missing exactly? Is it because they’re too cautious, “ironic”-minded or insincere or just…what, confused? The point is that things were hopping for young American actors in the ’70s and to a slightly lesser extent in the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts…but not now. The faces of Chris Pine, James Franco and Chris Evans comprise the art but who else could be included?
“Is it time for American actors to take a hard look in the mirror?,” the piece begins. “Earlier this year Michael Douglas mused darkly to a magazine interviewer, ‘I think we have a little crisis going on amongst our young actors at this point,’ and Spike Lee, commenting on the “invasion” of black British actors, had some pithy observations on the subject, too: ‘You want talented people,’ he said, and British actors’ ‘training is very proper, whereas some of these other brothers and sisters, you know, they come in here and they don’t got that training.'”
One exception, Rafferty feels, is Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Creed). Another, I believe, is Paul Dano, who is so far still (i.e., among movies that have been released in 2015) the leading Best Actor candidate for his Brian Wilson performance in Love & Mercy. And let’s not forget Jake Gyllenhaal, of course, and his brilliant Nightcrawler performance. (Southpaw, not so much.) And, I suppose, Jesse Eisenberg, but I have this feeling that he’s been half-slumming since The Social Network.
Remember that Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and Johnny Depp are now 40-plus and more or less middle-aged so they can’t be included. Remember that Michael Fassbender, 37, is German Irish and Ryan Gosling, 34, is Canadian.
A half second before associating this image with the forthcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and particularly Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor (which is sure to be a Mark Zuckerbergian spin on yet another standard-issue, flamboyantly sociopathic comic-book villain), I flashed on LexG, i.e, the “real” Lex who is still, it appears, sadly and embarassingly hiding out. One of the leading metaphors or manifestations of the Schlumpy & Dumpy era (i.e., a guy who pollutes his bod with drinking and whatnot but who lives resplendently within) and he’s not even “here”? The guy who was born to write and he’s doing what now, eating a baloney sandwich in the kitchen? He said three or four weeks ago that he’s just “found the internet in general to be unpleasant and not helpful to my happiness for quite some time…just enjoying some time away from it.” Of course the internet is unpleasant! That’s like George S. Patton saying he doesn’t want to fight the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge because it’s too cold and foggy.
I would loved to have been there in Cesana just to hear all those drummers — a percussionist symphony for the ages. What a field day for the heat. A thousand people in the street….er, the Piedmont hills. Playin’ songs they carry inside. Except it was just one song — Foo Fighters‘ “Learn to Fly,” performed by a thousand exuberant Italians who were nonetheless grovelling at the feet of the wonderful messiah Dave Grohl. Hear our joy and consider our passion, Foo Fighters!…our lives will be incomplete if you don’t come to Italy and play for us! But in their self-abasing worship, this crowd transcended Grohl and in fact all of the Grohls of the world. Their performance was probably better than anything the Foo Fighters could have possibly brought to the table. Hats off to award-winning conductor Marco Sabiu for arranging this.