9:30 pm Pacific: Muhammad Ali has died. God rest his soul. He will always be a hero and a beacon to me. Earlier: There have been odd reports in recent years that former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was near death, only to prove untrue. Now Radar Online is reporting that the Parkinsons-afflicted Ali, 74, is grappling with respiratory problems in the Phoenix area and that the situation may be more grave. I love Muhammad Ali if he makes it through, and I love him if he doesn’t. He’s the most inspiring athlete of my life, and never more so than in that legendary 1974 championship bout with George Foreman — the Rumble in the Jungle.
The headline is a misquote. Here’s what Matt Damon actually said in part to the MIT graduating class of 2016: “Let me say this to the bankers who brought you the biggest heist in history: It was theft and you knew it. It was fraud and you knew it. And you know what else? We know that you knew it. And yeah, okay, you sort of got away with it. You got that house in the Hamptons that other people paid for…as their own mortgages went underwater. So you might have their money, but you don’t have our respect. Just so you know, when we pass you on the street and look you in the eye…that’s what we’re thinking. I don’t know if justice is coming for you in this life or the next. But if justice does come for you in this life, her name will be Elizabeth Warren.” I added the Hillary thing.
If you’re an X-Men mutant, you’re a combatant. Gender is not an issue, but your combat skills definitely are. Your special powers define your prowess in the combat arena. It follows that in any X-Men movie mutants are going to be assaulted, punched, kicked, strangled, body-slammed. As far as I’m aware it’s okay to portray said violence involving male mutants in ads for X-Men: Apocalypse. But it’s not okay to show female mutants (particularly Jennifer Lawrence‘s Mystique) involved in any kind of violent altercation, especially if they’re losing. Because this image would be perceived as “casual violence against women.” Yesterday Fox marketing apologized to The Hollywood Reporter for the content of a billboard showing Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse choking Lawrence’s Mystique: “In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.”
Richard Wagner‘s “Ride of the Valkyries” theme was used as prelude music during a Donald Trump rally Wednesday night in San Jose. (Go to the 29-minute mark on the video.) The general interpretation is that Trump was trying to summon echoes of a Hitler rally, as der Fuhrer was a huge Wagner fan. I’m no Trump apologist, but “Ride of the Valkyries” is not a Hitler thing — it’s an Apocalypse Now thing. It signifies force, aggression, blowing the enemy to Kingdom Come. It’s still an ugly anthem, of course, especially in the context of a political rally, but for the last 37 years “Valkyries” has belonged more to Francis Coppola than Hitler or even Wagner himself.
Nasal-voiced Beach Boys singer Mike Love has long been a conservative Republican. And a bit of a shit in personal terms. Back in the mid ’60s he did what he could to dissuade Brian Wilson from musical experimentation instead of sticking to the Beach Boys formula. Director Bill Pohlad didn’t portray Love as one of the three bad guys in Love & Mercy (along with Murray Wilson and Dr. Eugene Landy) for nothing. Love is some kind of green Republican (he supports environmental causes) with an investment in Transcendental Meditation, but he nonetheless supported John McCain in ’08 and Mitt Romney in ’12. And now, of course, he’s with Donald Trump.
I’m sorry but nothing has changed my initial impression about the L.A. Film Festival being a no-buzz flatliner. When an event of any artistic or cultural importance is about to happen my insect antennae can always sense the hoo-hah vibes. Right now I’m feeling only their absence. That said I might catch an LA Film Festival feature tonight — Amber Tamblyn‘s Paint It Black. Not at the Culver City Arclight but at LACMA. If all goes well, I mean. I haven’t picked up the pass or anything. It all feels like such a chore.
Boilerplate descriptions of Paint It Black make it sound like another grief recovery drama. Which naturally scares me. (The only grief recovery film I’ve really liked so far has been Manchester By The Sea, in part because it’s not about “recovery.”) The notes call it “startlingly visceral.” Directed and co-written by Tamblyn, it costars Janet McTeer, Alia Shawkat, Alfred Molina, Emily Rios and Rhys Wakefield.
I’ve been a fan of Tamblyn’s acting and poetry-writing for a decade or so. I was floored by her performance in a summer 2014 Geffen Playhouse production of Neil Labute‘s Reasons To Be Pretty. Here’s a piece of my review: