You’d think that a brainy, circumspect guy like Owen Wilson, who voted for Barack Obama once or twice, would be “feeling the Bern” right about now, but no. (Has he or hasn’t he seen Inequality For All?) And he’s not on Team Hillary either. Is he a Joe Biden man? Is he one of those Elizabeth Warren supporters who refuses to fold the tent? I think it kind of means something that Owen, who’s one of the most free-thinking, oddly mystical-minded actors I’ve ever spoken with, is in a kind of disengaged levitational place. Plus he’s of two minds on Donald Trump — appalled but faintly amused (“You can’t help but get a kick out him…you sort of feel he could be a character from Network“). Here‘s the interview.
Less than two weeks ago Ed Helms was hauled before a Movie Jail judge and sentenced to a ten-year…okay, make it a five year probation for having starred in Vacation, which is tied with No Escape for being the most repellent film of 2015. I’m sorry but the terms of Helms’ probation forbids all film lovers from being favorably disposed to any film he may costar or star in between now and mid-August of 2020. So that’s an ixnay, I’m afraid, for Jessie Nelson‘s Love The Coopers (CBS Films, 11.13). Costarring Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei and Olivia Wilde. Will Keaton be in a good movie ever again, or is she stuck on an irreversible downslide? Her last decent film along these lines was The Family Stone, which is almost ten years old now.
Today, 8.26, is Women’s Equality Day — the 95th anniversary of the final certifying into law of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. (The 19th Amendment was actually ratified on 8.18.20.) The amendment had first been proposed in 1878 so the process took 42 years. It didn’t become law because women smiled at lawmakers and said “please.” It happened because they pushed for it, and then pushed and pushed and pushed until it hurt. Power always has to be fought for, and this often means that the foot soldiers of any political movement will have to suffer cuts and bruises and deprivations. I just hope that there’s more to Sarah Gavron‘s Suffragette (Focus Features, 10.23) than a dramatization of what a struggle it was for English women to fight against complacency and dismissive attitudes. I’m just hoping there’s more to it than just “these women really paid the price.”
Five or six days ago I was at M Cafe de Chaya, a very cool place that specializes in macrobiotic dishes, to meet a couple of ladies. It was just before 9 pm. I ordered something or other, went out to the patio and noticed this pretty blonde in her late 20s. (Maybe her early 30s.) She acknowledged my glance and smiled. We chatted a bit. She told me her name. I asked what she did and she eventually confided that she worked as a hostess at a high-stakes Beverly Hills card game. Me: “You mean one of those games that guys like Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck attend?” She nodded. Me: “The money, the tips are pretty good, I imagine.” She: “If somebody wins big…”
In a 2014 interview with former “poker princess” Molly Bloom, who hosted one of the hottest high-stakes games in Los Angeles (and also one in New York) and who wrote a book about her experiences called “Molly’s Game“, Bloom is asked “about the models that hung around the games to provide eye candy.” Bloom: “The girls I chose weren’t stupid and they weren’t bimbos. I tried to mentor them and empower them. I told them, ‘Don’t sleep with these guys.’ They’d make $10,000 for doing nothing.”
The not-to-be-named blonde and I spoke a bit more and then my two friends showed up. I introduced them to poker lady, lah-dee-dah, greetings all around, chit-chat. And then five or six minutes later she finished her sandwich, got up, smiled and waved goodbye.
Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth “is a visually poetic, beautifully captured, symphony-like film, which is what Sorrentino does, of course. This has been his signature style in The Great Beauty and Il Divo (let’s ignore This Must Be The Place) and here’s the same tray of gourmet delights — deliciously photographed, serenely scored, composition for composition’s sake, drop-dead delectable, etc. And at the same time Youth is rather languid and swoony and a touch melancholy from time to time, and dryly amusing whenever Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel chew the fart fat while walking in the hills or sitting in a hot tub or sipping tea. But this is mostly a film that celebrates Sorrentino’s gifts as a visual composer.
“And I’ll tell you something. After a while I wanted a respite from all the beautiful framing and the luscious, perfectly lighted Swiss scenery. I wanted Caine and Keitel to take a train to Bern or Zurich on some pretext and hit a topless bar or something, if only for a few minutes respite from Sorrentino Land, which — don’t get me wrong — is a fine, rapturous place to be but which can feel, after a time, a bit narcotizing. You could even say that it offers a kind of confinement. It’s not that I don’t value it. I’m not an idiot. I’ve been savoring fine cinematography, editing and production design all my life, and I know what goes.
Another shooting incident, another disgruntled ex-employee…business as usual in this great land of ours. If WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward had been armed, they could have fired back at the shooter and possibly stopped him from committing this malicious act. We clearly need more guns — preferably everyone wearing holsters and six-shooters — and fewer restrictions. (HE to slow person who will write in to complain about my response: I’m being bitter and facetious.) The latest Amurrican shooting happened early this morning during a live feed in Bridgewater Plaza, Virginia. WDBJ is based in Roanoke, Virginia. Condolences to friends, family and co-workers of the deceased.
The killer, a former WDBJ employee identified as Vester Lee Flanagan (a.k.a. Bryce Williams), filmed himself as he walked up to shoot the victims. (YouTube has deleted the video.) Flanagan has reportedly shot himself as cops confronted him. Update: He’s dead. Flanagan was hired by WDBJ in April 2012. His Facebook and Twitter accounts have been suspended.