Filed from Cannes on 5.15.16: “Nathan Morlando‘s Mean Dreams isn’t blazingly original, but I found it a handsome, pared-down thing that doesn’t give in to the usual blam-blam when a gun is purchased and push comes to shove. If a cover band really knows how to perform classic Malick rock — Badlands meets Cop Car meets Ain’t Them Bodies Saints meets A Simple Plan meets No Country for Old Men — and they include a riff or two of their own then I really don’t see the problem.
“It isn’t how familiar something seems as much as how spare and straight the chops feel. Take, assimilate, make anew. And the quality of the performances, which in this case struck me as near-perfect in the case of co-leads Josh Wiggins and Sophie Nelisse, and a bad-cop, pervy-dad turn by Bill Paxton that…okay, felt a little moustache-twirly at times and yet acceptable enough in the context of greed, alcohol and obsession.
“Plus Colm Feore‘s slightly less corrupt lawman plus Steve Cosens‘ handsome cinematography and a sometimes slammy percussive score by Son Lux…solid as far as it goes.
“And then along came Variety‘s Guy Lodge and The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney last night with pooh-pooh reviews, essentially calling it too derivative and/or not twisty enough. I felt a little queasy as I read these reviews around 11 pm last night, as if some kind of virus had gotten into my system from the wrong kind of seafood. Lodge and Rooney and whomever else are entitled to piss on anything they want but I know it when a film feels steady and restrained and is more or less up to something honorable.
“This is who I am, take it or leave it. I’m smug, lazy, less than intellectually rigorous, committed to my preferred realm…and that’s as far as it goes. The two twains — mine and the one that the news media follows or subscribes to — will never meet. Ever. I’m here to restore and protect American whiteness and to repel or at least compromise any and all people of darker pigmentations. The good, average Americans who voted for me obviously support this. So basically I don’t back off and I’m keeping my guns holstered, and that’s that. If any of you have questions…I don’t know why I just asked that, knowing what the lying media will do with my answers…”
Paris is probably the greatest aroma town I’ve ever sunk into. A feast wherever you go — Montmarte, Oberkampf, Montparnasse, Passy. The Seine at night, outdoor markets (especially in the pre-dawn hours), the aroma of sauces and pasta dishes coming from cafes, warm breads, scooter and bus exhaust, strong cigarettes, strong coffee, Middle Eastern food stands (onions, sliced meats, spices), gelato shops, etc.
And the only way to really savor these aromas, obviously, is to do so in the open air and preferably on a scooter or motorcycle so you can enjoy them in rapid succession. It’s the only way to travel over there, certainly in the warmer months. I’ve never felt so intensely alive and unbothered as during my annual Paris scooter roam-arounds.
“When I let my cat Zak outside in the morning, the first thing he does is hop onto the fence and raise his head slightly and just smell the world. He’s revelling in the sampling of each and every aroma swirling around, sniffing and sniffing again, everything he can taste. I was thinking this morning how delighted and fulfilled he seemed, and how maybe I should do a little more of this myself. Take a moment and sample as many scents as possible.
“The problem with so much of Los Angeles today, of course, is that too much of it has been smothered by massive shopping malls and buildings and parking lots, and dominated by the faint aromas (if you want to call them that) of asphalt, plastic, trash bins, concrete, sheetrock and car and truck exhaust — which doesn’t smell like very much of anything.
Elia Kazan on Marlon Brando’s exterior toughness vs. inner gentleness and tenderness: “When Marlon plays those love scenes with Eva Marie Saint, I’m broken up. When he’s asking her to understand him. A tough guy revealing a side to himself that you didn’t expect…something in the audience that they recognize…some sort of tenderness…and at the same time he was a sonafabitch, a bad person, a betrayer.
“And yet people wanted to reach out and help him. I was lucky to have him. He’s both hardy and indifferent, and at the same time wants you to love him very much. That one person would need so much from another person. He had that ambivalence.
“We all do, don’t we? We all marry or hopefully marry or hopefully hook up with some lady [who’s] gonna make us feel ‘we’re okay’ or ‘we’re better’ and all that. We search for it and want it and crave it and all that, and sometime it happens and sometimes it happens for a while. And something in that basic story, I think, is what stirs people. Not the social-political thing so much as the human element.”
I’m posting the following Michael Moore Facebook message because of an arresting three-word question that concludes this excerpt: “Our job this morning is to call our members of Congress and US Senators — especially the Democrats — and demand that they cease all Congressional business until they appoint a special committee to investigate the “numerous” links between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials. They must also call upon Attorney General Sessions to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor.
“The Dems must bring a halt to anything happening on the floor of the Senate or House until this is done. To carry on as if this potentially traitorous action never happened, to just go about ‘business as usual’ today, is an OBSCENITY. Hundreds of thousands of your relatives and mine died so we could have this most basic of rights: A free and fair and incorruptible election. If we are not willing to fight for THIS, then WHO ARE WE?”
Will Scott Feinberg’s 2.16 scoop about plans for Bonnie and Clyde costars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to co-present the Best Picture Oscar result in a fuck-you pushback? “Several sources say Oscar telecast producers Michael DeLuca and Jennifer Todd [have] personally reached out to the duo to present the award” as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, Feinberg writes. “Plans could change,” he adds, “but sources say the Oscars run of show is being finalized this week.”
If you know anything about the guarded, occasionally prickly attitude of entrenched Hollywood producers toward trade journalists, you may suspect that Deluca and Todd are thinking about finding replacements for Beatty and Dunaway as we speak.
I’m thinking in particular of Lyndon Johnson‘s reaction to Ben Bradlee‘s May 1964 Newsweek story about his intention to replace FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. (The source was impeccable — LBJ’s press secretary Bill Moyers.) Right after the story broke Johnson called a press conference and announced that he was putting Hoover in charge of the agency “for life”. He then turned to Moyers and said, “Call Bradlee and tell him to go fuck himself.”