In raw form, this morning’s Oscar Poker chat, during which Sasha Stone and I discussed the usual range of topics, ran over an hour. I have to attend a 4:30 pm Martin Scorsese-Irwin Winkler thing at the Egyptian so I haven’t time to listen to Sasha’s edit, but it was one of our better chats. Not just Oscar spitballing but “where is it all heading?” stuff. Here’s the raw version.
Yesterday Daily Beast contributor Lewis Bealereminded that a Donald Trump-like demagogue and presidential candidate was imagined by revered 20th Century novelist Sinclair Lewis in a 1935 novel called “It Can’t Happen Here.” Lewis’s cautionary tale about a hate-monger and resentment-exploiter named Berzelius Windrip, who mouths Trumpisms chapter and verse, recently became Amazon’s number one bestseller in the Classic American Literature category.
Beale’s opening paragraph: “It’s an election year, in a time of economic uncertainty. Running for president is a ranting populist type who has a bestselling book that is part biography, and part shameless boasting. He promises to ‘make America a proud, rich land again,’ rails against blacks, Jews, and Mexicans, and makes it a point of criticizing the press, whose editors he accuses of ‘plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions.'”
Up until the 1:41 mark this is one of the most affecting, perfectly assembled high-school relationship shorts I’ve seen in a long time. A terrible shock happens at the 1:38 or 1:39 mark, and it hangs in the air until 1:41. But at 1:42 until the finish it suddenly becomes a PSA spot about how school violence can be prevented. Which is obviously an important message, but before 1:41 the piece is operating on a more intriguing and sophisticated level.
Once a year I’ll say something nervy or cutting on Twitter in the wrong way, and for a few hours and sometimes for as long as a day or two the Twitter dogs decide that I’m a howling, salivating, razor-clawed Beelzebub — a voice and a mentality so monstrously evil that I need to be bitten and bloodied and ripped to pieces. That or someone who needs to immediately slit his throat or drown himself or jump off a ten-story building at 3 am so as to not hurt any passing pedestrians. Make no mistake: Twitter is an evil, stinking place — an outlet for the acidic, festering rage that is churning inside millions and is probably getting worse as we speak. I’m not going to dignify yesterday’s disgusting conflict by explaining my side of the matter in three or four paragraphs, but here’s a verbal explanation that I shared with Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone this morning during a podcast recording.
A 12.2 Elle article about a three-year-old confession by Last Tango in Paris director BernardoBertolucci ignited a firestorm yesterday. Written by Mattie Kahn and posted on 12.2, it contained Bertolucci’s admission that during filming he and Tango star Marlon Brando, 48, decided to cruelly surprise costar Maria Schneider, 19, with the famous anal rape scene — no preparation, here we go, wham.
The article was based on a 2013 televised interview with Bertolucci that was somehow ignored or overlooked before the Elle piece. A regretful Bertolucci said that he wanted Schneider to react “as a girl, not as an actress.” Schneider, who died of cancer in 2011, was naturally shocked, humiliated, appalled.
But right away an impression began to spread yesterday that Schneider might have been literally raped by Brando with Bertolucci egging him on. That’s not what happened, but once Twitter gets hold of a story or an event, the wildfire spreads.
Last night Jessica Chastain tweeted the following: “To all the people [who] love this film, you’re watching a 19 yr. old get raped by a 48 yr. old man. The director planned her attack. I feel sick.” This inspired Octavia Spencer to tweet the following this morning: “This is BEYOND disturbing. Rape!!!! So, in the director’s mind order for an actor to play a killer does he actually need to kill? Yikes!”
This morning Variety‘s Seth Kelley, summarizing the Elle piece, wrote that Bertolucci had confessed that he and Marlon Brando “conspired against actress Maria Schneider during a rape scene in which the actor used a stick of butter as lubricant.” That wording half-suggests that the rape scene might have been real. Which it wasn’t — it was total simulation. Obviously a cruel strategy on Brando and Berlolucci’s part, but the scene in question was still about pretending.