Howard Stern, Robin Quivers and Gary Busey had this conversation eons ago, but I don’t care. I love Busey’s deep-down, gravelly-voiced, glint-of-madness thing. On the other hand he’s a fucking Trump supporter and a Promise Keeper, which is more or less a rightwing character-building Jesus thing for older guys. Creepy. But I really loved this conversation, and I wish I could share in a few conversations of this type on my own. Not the aggressive aspects but the open-book, this-is-who-and-what-I-really-am stuff.
Last Thursday (4.13) a major Guardian story (“British Spies Were First To Spot Trump Team’s Links With Russia“) about Russian-Trump collusion appeared. The 34th and final paragraph says the following: “One source suggested the official [American] investigation was making progress. ‘They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,’ the source said. ‘This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.'” I read a hint of this on Twitter but it didn’t sink in — apologies.
The gist of “Smartphones Are The New Cigarettes,” a 4.17 Think Global piece by Mark Manson, is that constantly eyeballing your phone screen and otherwise divorcing yourself from the life’s natural changes and currents is declasse behavior, or something that only low-lifes are succumbing to. Those with class and cultivation are dodging that stereotype with a passion, he’s saying, and if you’re still acting like a mutt you should probably reassess things.
Speak for yourself, pal. I’m well aware of the declasse aspect and am always careful not to yank my phone out in mixed company, and if so only for a minute or less. But in my own lone-wolf realm I’m a three-pack-a-day man, especially with the constant copy editing, searching for ideas and the endless twitter duelling, and that will never change. Like, ever.
In a 4.17 Indiewire piece, critic David Ehrlich laments the impression that Netflix movies aren’t really movies because the only theatrical experience they’ll receive is at this or that film festival. Because once they turn up on Netflix, they’re just part of the churning digital swarm on this or that device. As Ehrlich puts it, it’s the fate of all Netflix movies to be “quietly uploaded to a computer server and added to an ever-expanding menu of content in the cloud. I saw it in a theater; you’ll see it buried somewhere between Iron Fist and Sandy Wexler.”
If I had labored hard and gone into heavy debt to make a feature film, I would be overjoyed if Netflix picked it up because at least I would be made whole and could then go on to make another film. But I would also feel a bit drained knowing that my film will never experience the slightest theatrical pulsebeat.
In the eyes of many Amazon is doing it right with their commitment (recently reiterated at Cinemacon) to give new films some kind of theatrical exposure before streaming them. In Ehrlich’s view, a Netflix acquisition means being sent to a kind of digital elephant’s graveyard.
“If a movie premieres on Netflix, is it still even a movie?,” he writes. “In an age where the word ‘film’ is often a misnomer and content is classified less by the intent of its production than by the means of its distribution, it could be said that movies — at least for the time being — are simply things that play in movie theaters. It may seem like a matter of semantics, but I think we’re talking about qualitatively different experiences.
Will the 2017 L.A. Film Festival follow the mindset of the ’16 and ’15 fests, which was basically to screen lower-profile, hand-to-mouth indie titles that no one had heard of or wanted to see? Or will they program at least a few not-yet-released films screened at Sundance, Tribeca or Cannes?
Posted on 5.30.16: “The L.A. Film Festival (6.1 thru 6.9) feels like a no-buzz flatliner. So far I’ve noticed three or four films of passing interest but nothing that really heats the blood. Just a lot of indie titles of marginal interest. No hot premieres, minor Sundance repeaters, none of the Cannes headliners. I shared this view with a film-savvy friend and he said ‘my impression is the same as yours…I felt like last year’s LAFF had almost no buzz, and this year it has even less.’
If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times. If you’re a 60-plus actor you need to lose the droopy neck wattle. It’s about as complex as having your teeth cleaned, and if your surgeon isn’t a complete idiot it won’t look like anything. You can still look weathered and grizzled and all that other other sexy saddlebag stuff. You can even keep a slight neck wattle, but droopies are impossible. And Sam Elliott knows this. Joe Biden‘s neck wattle has been driving me crazy, and he refuses to do the thing. It’s like walking around with your fly open.
From a 1.21.17 Hollywood Reporter review, written by John Frosch: “In The Hero, unlike in most of his other projects, Elliott appears in nearly every frame as Lee Hayden, an over-the-hill Western film star whose cancer diagnosis prompts him to plan a comeback, reconnect with his estranged daughter and romance a younger woman. If that story sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it before, with tweaks and variations, in movies like The Verdict, Tender Mercies, The Wrestler, Crazy Heart and many more.
Images from Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born popped over the weekend. They showed Lady Gaga (in the role played by Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland and Janet Gaynor in previous versions of this time-worn tale) and Cooper (in the downswirling drunk role played by Kris Kristofferson, James Mason and Fredric March) performing before cameras at Coachella. The Warner Bros. film will pop sometime in ’18, most likely in the fall.
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga during filming of a Star Is Born concert-performance scene at Coachella.
The press-release takeaway is that Lady Gaga will be billed by her actual name — Stefani Germanotta. Which has to be one of the dopiest big-studio kowtowings to a headstrong celebrity in history. By the time the movie opens everyone will know this is just an ego game — a way of Lady Gaga saying “I’m extra-special” or “being an artist, I have to be extra-real with myself in order to play this role…it’s essential to my process.” Except this is a partial copout because LG’s actual real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
A second, very fundamental aspect is that millions don’t have a clear idea what Lady Gaga actually looks like. LG has been a glammy image-changer and clotheshorse for years, and so heavily made up and be-wigged that all anyone really knows is that she sings well and has prominent cheekbones. If I were to run into an au natural Miley Cyrus doing lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, I would say to myself, “Huh, Miley Cyrus without makeup.” If I were to encounter Lady Gaga in workout duds nothing would register. Okay, I might say to myself “hmmm, interesting face…do I know her?”
A third aspect (and I’ve said this repeatedly) is that stories about drunks are boring. There’s nothing the least bit touching about a person who can’t help killing his/her career because he/she can’t face facts and get sober. Many successful entertainers find they can’t keep the fire going or, worse, fall by the wayside when they let alcohol or drugs carry the load. I feel a measure of sympathy for anyone caught in a self-destructive pattern (having sworn off the hard stuff 21 years ago and embraced sobriety on 3.20.12), but the idea of paying to see a tired story about a talented person slowly turning into a boorish asshole as he/she slips beneath the waves is, well, inconceivable. To me at least.