The all-new Alien Follies with Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride (obviously a dead man), Demián Bichir, Billy Crudup and James Franco. Can we take a vote on a preferred death list? The ones I’d most like to see “get it” (and in this order) are Fassbender, McBride, Waterston. We already know Crudup will be John Hurted. 20th Century Fox will open Alien Convenant on 5.19, or on the third day of the Cannes Film Festival (5.17 to 5.28).
In Judgment at Nuremberg, Marlene Dietrich‘s Madame Bertholt character passes along the following anecdote to Judge Dan Heywood (Spencer Tracy) about defendant Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster):
“I remember there was a reception given for [Richard] Wagner‘s daughter-in-law,” Mrs. Bertholt begins. “Hitler was there. Ernst Janning was there with his wife. She was very beautiful…very small, very delicate. She’s dead now.
“Hitler was quite taken with her. He made advances towards her during the reception. He used to do things like that in a burst of emotion. I will never forget the way Ernst Janning cut him down. I don’t think anybody ever did it to him quite that way. He said, ‘Chancellor…I do not object so much that you are so ill-mannered. I do not object to that so much. I object that you are such a bourgeois.’ Hitler whitened, stared at Janning, and walked out.”
From 12.21 Kevin Sessums post on Facebook: “I was talking to a friend the other night here in New York. She was married for a while to an industrialist with a high social profile in Manhattan, so for much of her marriage she played hostess for parties and dinners at their townhouse and out at their summer estate. We got to talking about the election and how she was coping.
“‘What boggles my mind,’ she said, recalling that marriage and those years of playing New York hostess, ‘is that during all those years the only person I ever insisted on banning from our dinners and our parties — indeed, our very house — was Donald Trump. I just couldn’t put up with his vulgar behavior anymore and you know I don’t have a problem with vulgarity really. But his vulgarity was on a whole other level. The boorish way he groped women at parties and at dinners. He’d even do that thing with me where he’d put an arm around my back and then reach over on the other side to get a feel of my breast. It happened over and over.
Why is one of the truly exceptional, Brando-ish actors of our time starring in a grimy, gunky period series (BBC One in England, FX stateside) about revenge? Why did he make London Road, which nobody even saw much less got excited about? Why did he star in Child 44, which I found suffocating and could barely stay with to the end? Hardy has a thing about playing creepy or sullen fringe characters — I get that — but why doesn’t he ever play a socially liberal attorney who wears suits or a mild-mannered husband having an affair with the next-door neighbor or at least a guy who shaves? Yes, he has a role in Dunkirk (probably a non-pivotal role, given the big-historical-canvas nature of Chris Nolan’s film), but Hardy just doesn’t seem interested in being a leading man, if only to occasionally prove than he can do that sort of thing as well as anyone else if not better. He keeps insisting on playing half-crazy scuzballs, like that guy he played in The Revenant.
The last half-hour of Frank Capra‘s It’s A Wonderful Life (’46) always gets me deep down. I don’t really like the film (or any Capra creation for that matter) but my throat always tightens when Jimmy Stewart‘s distraught George Bailey begs Clarence the Angel for another chance — “Please, please…I want to live again.”
Movies like It’s A Wonderful Life are good for the heart and soul, no question. It’s a sappy film on one level but a very dark one besides, and I admire the ballsiness that it took to send nice-guy Stewart to a snow-covered bridge in order to commit suicide, and then whip it all around so he ends up in a joyful embrace with his family and friends. (Kudos to screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, whose work Capra tweaked to some extent.)
That said, there’s a passage in David G. Allan’s CNN.com piece about this much-loved classic that I feel like quibbling with.
“The big life lesson from this eminent Christmas perennial comes late in the film,” Allan writes, “and delivered straight from heaven. ‘Each man’s life touches so many other lives,’ explains Clarence. ‘When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?‘”
Well, in the scheme of It’s A Wonderful Life, yeah, but in actuality, not really. Or not as much as Capra or Stewart would have us believe.
For no matter how selfless or charitable or open-hearted a person may be, regardless of how many good or noble acts he/she may be responsible for, the churn and swirl of life will always win out. The constant cycle of birth and death and come-what-may happenstance is persistent, inexorable and unstoppable, and whatever lies in store that is good or bad, it will eventually happen on its own steam.
Essentially good, fair-minded, hard-working people will always be balms for their communities and families and whatnot and thank God for that, but no single life has ever been as central and influential as George Bailey’s. One way or another, the shit that may happen or not happen will eventually happen or not happen. Spiritual water always finds its own level. Fates are fulfilled, and chapters need to conclude in order for succeeding chapters to begin.
There is so much more to the cosmic scheme than was ever dreamt or imagined by the philosophy of Frank Capra, it’s not even funny.
Last night I went out in the rain to buy a small garbage can at the Beverly Center. Unlike LexG and others of his cowering persuasion, I’m not an infant when it comes to precipitation — if it’s wet outside I simply carry an umbrella. So I was walking back in a traffic lane on La Cienega with a couple of bags, the rain coming down like cats and dogs, and suddenly I realized there was no way to hop to the curb because the drainage system had totally collapsed. The east side gutter area had become the Colorado river — serious rapids, at least a foot deep. So I was standing there with cars beeping and steering their way around me and going “what the fuck?” when I noticed that a cop had stopped ten feet away and was eyeballing me. Am I about to be busted now? “Fuck it,” I muttered, and scampered across to La Cienega’s west side.
Everyone I know (or who has half a brain and isn’t a hinterland dumbshit) is in the grip of the same feeling of dread, the same terrible sense of an oncoming nightmare. This sums it up as concisely as anything I’ve seen or read.
The night before last I had dinner with an old friend at Musso and Frank. (Larry Fishburne was there with a significant someone.) I asked the parking lot guy to snap a shot of his security cam split-screen while I posed just outside his shack.
Martin Scorsese to BigStory’s Jake Coyle: “Cinema is gone. The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone.”
HE to Scorsese: Grand ornate cinemas showing first-run movies in VistaVision and Super Panavision 70 and at 1.66:1 and via 30-frame-per-second Todd AO…movies made by top-tier, world-class talents and featuring big stars…yes, that era has passed. But cultivated cinema culture is very much a thing, and is definitely still with us in certain regions, within certain theatres — it’s just been marginalized. Adapted and reconfigured into a kind of spiritual sideshow. The popcorn-eating mob that used to show up for sturdy-quality mainstream flicks has moved on to CG-driven fantasy-superhero crapola.
Martin Scorsese, as captured for BigStory piece on 12.9.
Scorsese to Coyle: “The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there’s no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be? Is it always going to be a theme-park movie?”
HE to Scorsese: Yeah, pretty much. The big stadium-seating plexes have become animal houses. Except, thank God, when it comes to award-season fare, which will hopefully continue to be a seasonal event (October through January) that will temporarily upgrade the kind of films that people pay to see in a big screen.
Otherwise the action is focused on (a) film festivals, (b) whatever’s streaming on Amazon, Filmstruck, Vudu, et. al., (c) Curated films playing at Hollywood’s American Cinematheque, or Santa Monica’s Aero, or New York’s MOMA, Museum of Moving Image, Film Forum and the Walter Reade plus certain houses in Paris, Berlin and London, (d) the occasional choice Bluray and (e) the even more occasional counter-programmed spring or summer flick that isn’t aimed at idiots.
If you party too much in your 20s, 30s and 40s — if you really become such a slave to louche, pants-around-your-ankles living that partying is pretty much the be-all and end-all, if work and whatnot is regarded as a five-day-per-week slog that you have to submit to in order to afford the lifestyle of a party person…if this is your life in your 20s, 30s and 40s, then you will pay for this when you get older. You will look and feel worse and suffer from various ailments and probably die somewhat earlier (or a lot earlier) than required. Ex-boozers and ex-druggies start dying in their 50s and definitely in their 60s. Unless, of course, you have extraordinary, all-but-bulletproof genes, which I’ve been blessed with, thank God. (And which Peter O’Toole had.) But that’s just luck. One of my biggest regrets is not turning sober in my 40s. Everything would have been that much better if I could’ve done that. Alas, five years before I quit the hard stuff one of my favorite sayings was “life would be unbearable without alcohol.”
There’s something about this clip from Full Metal Jacket that is very strange and almost alien-like, or at the very least un-reflective of life on the planet earth. Give up? The entire company is singing on-key — they’re hitting each and every note correctly, and they’re adhering to a steady tempo. Which never, ever happens when any group at a restaurant or party sings “happy birthday.” As I reported last week.
Yes, the image is cropped at 1.37:1, but that’s fine around these parts. As Christmas is a time of great affirmation and rejoicing, there are few things that give me a better feeling than the thought of the dwindling 1.85 fascist crowd (Bob Furmanek, Peter Abbruzzese, et. al.) suffering heart palpitations when they see a boxy image like this one.
Yesterday Mike Streeter, a New York-based HE follower, tweeted about “Silence walkouts…ahoy!” It happened, he said, during the first show of the day (11:40 am) at the Regal Union Square 14 — “At least 7 that I counted that didn’t come back.” The mini-exodus began sometime after the halfway mark, he reported.
This morning I noticed a comment about a Silence screening from James Mandell in a Rod Lurie Facebook thread, to wit: “Unbearable. Morose, cruel, relentless, sodden. Had to take a break about two thirds in, stepped outside and found a half-dozen other audience members calculating how much more of the film there was. Was at a SAG/critic screening. By the end, a third of the theater (the crowd was at capacity when it began) was empty.”
Has anyone else noticed this? I ask this question not to bury the film (a trying but highly respectable effort), but simply in hopes of determining how widespread, if at all, the walkout syndrome might be.
I’ve seen and reviewed Silence, of course. It’s a bear to sit through, for sure, but I felt curiously touched at the end, as if a tiny candle inside my chest has been lighted by a thought. Here’s how I explained it on 12.10: