Suicide Squad is the next major film in which ne’er-do-wells are unambiguously presented as the heroes. They’re “bad” but you’re on their team, you identify with them, you want to them to succeed, you’ll feel bad if they don’t. The best of the genre, top of my head, in this order: The Wild Bunch, Bonnie and Clyde, Heat, One-Eyed Jacks, The Professionals, The Dirty Dozen, The Outfit, Tom Horn, etc. I’m not talking about intriguing, charismatic bad guys (Tom Cruise‘s “Vincent” in Collateral, Denzel Washington‘s dirty detective in Training Day) or half-flawed good guys but outside-the-law characters presented as the most compelling moral characters in the realm of the film.
There’s a scene in Judd Apatow‘s This Is 40 when Leslie Mann gives Paul Rudd shit because he cops to having popped a Viagra before a romantic moment in the shower. Mann’s lament: “Am I not hot enough to raise your staff without medicinal augmentation?” I forget what Judd’s reply was, but you can’t change over-40 biology. It’s not a lack of desire or start-up stiffitude but Mr. Johnson’s occasional tendency to become Mr. Moody. I’m there, I’m not there, I’m committed, I’ve changed my mind, etc. Yes, I got into this a few weeks ago but I’ve always been a Cialis guy. 24 to 36 hours vs. six to eight. I like them even when there’s nothing going on. “It makes me feel like I’m gonna live forever.” — Warren Beatty to Goldie Hawn in the second-to-last scene in Shampoo.
Story #1: I wasn’t there but a friend ran into Muhammad Ali at a New Jersey Turnpike gas-and-food stop in the winter of ’68. This of course was during Ali’s exile years (i.e., after the boxing commissars had taken away his heavyweight championship title after he’d refused to serve in the military due to religious objections over fighting in the Vietnam War). He was travelling in a large tour bus, and a fair amount of ice and sludge had apparently accumulated on the sides, and Ali had borrowed a water hose from the gas-station guy and was hosing it down and scraping the ice off with one of those long-handled scrapers. It was freezing and windy, but my friend had to shake his hand — “Hey, champ!” Ali stopped hosing, smiled, offered his hand and a kind word. Nothing special but “a moment.”
Story #2: In the fall of ’96 I was moderating a Woodland Hills AMC film class called “Hot-Shot Movies”, and one of my picks was Leon Gast‘s When We Were Kings, the brilliant doc about the 1974 Ali vs Forman “Rumble in the Jungle” championship bout which won the Oscar the following year for Best Feature-Length Documentary. I was introducing the film when a middle-aged, red-haired woman raised her hand and said, “Why have you chosen this film? Why do we have to sit here and watch it?” Translation: “I bought a ticket to your film series for doses of classy escapism, but not to see a film about that black Muslim blowhard who disgraced himself by refusing to fight in Vietnam.” I chose it, I said, because the film is full of spirit and love and celebration, and because it ends in glorious triumph. And because it may be the best sports-related doc I’ve ever seen.
The Great Paris Flood of 2016 is bad for tourism but quite the spectacle. And yet it’s nothing compared to the flood of 1910 when the Seine rose 28 and 1/2 feet (8.62 meters) above its normal level. The Seine levels are currently dropping. They had been at 6 meters (just shy of 20 feet) above normal. No tour boats, lots of bankside gawking, tons of mud and debris in certain areas. But the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay have not been flooded, and life will go on.
“American’s real religion is capitalism, and like every religion it needs a devil. And that devil has always been socialism. Republicans always say that if you let in a little socialism it’ll spread out of control, but actually it’s the opposite. It’s capitalism that we’ve let spread out of control. It’s eaten our democracy. It’s eating our middle class. It’s eaten our health care system, our prison system, our news media. It’s even eaten our food system so thoroughly that a lot of our food should no longer be eaten.” — Bill Maher “New Rules” schpiel during last night’s (6.3) Real Time, which HBO Now never offers until a day or two has passed.”
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