Some of you presumably saw or at least remember Werner Herzog‘s Woyzeck (’79), an adaptation of George Buchner‘s 19th Century play of the same. Tonight I joined Svetlana Cvetko and David Scott Smith for an opera version of same at the Bastille Opera. It was the final night of the season. Afterwards we had some exquisite eats at Camille (24 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris), which Svetlana recommended and is definitely a place I’ll be returning to. Now I have to crash. It’s 12:18 am, and I have to wake up at 5 am (okay, 5:15) to make the Paris-to-Cannes train at Gare de Lyon.
A couple of months ago (March 14th) I ran into Brad Grey at the Wilshire Screening Room. I was there for my second viewing of Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation.
“Have you seen it?” I asked Grey. He shrugged, shook his head. “You should! It’s brilliant. You know Mungiu…Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days?” Another 20 or 30 seconds of chit-chat and “see ya.” I liked Grey as far as it went. I felt I could talk freely with him. We had spoken at a Paramount lot gathering a few weeks earlier, and again at a pre-Golden Globes party at the Chateau Marmont. He was fairly open and candid at the former event, at least as far as his position (he was still running Paramount) allowed.
And now he’s gone. Cancer. Jesus, he didn’t look ill or anything. A slap to the system. Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues. This came out of nowhere.
Straight from Variety: “Brad Grey, the former Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO, died on Sunday night of cancer. He was 59. His family issued a statement on Monday morning, Los Angeles time:
“Brad passed away yesterday evening at his home in Holmby Hills, his family by his side. The cause of death was cancer. He was 59 years old.
Two scenes dissipate John Frankenheimer‘s Seven Days in May (’64), an otherwise gripping thriller about an attempted military takeover of the U.S. One of them is fairly ludicrous in its action plotting, and both take your attention away from the story by suggesting that the film was made for a modest sum — something an audience should never be allowed to contemplate.
(l. to r.) George Macready, Edmond O’Brien and Fredric March in a second-act scene from John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May.
#1: President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) and a team of anti-conspiracy allies are watching filmed footage of two Pentagon higher-ups (including John Larkin‘s Col. Broderick, a close confidante of Burt Lancaster‘s General James Mattoon Scott) spying on the President’s vacation home from a rowboat. Someone notes that the conspirators must be small in number or else why would Broderick, a Pentagon bigwig, be engaged in routine surveillance work? And it hits you that this whole menacing conspiracy is a small-scale affair. Just six or seven middle-aged men on either side, playing for opposing teams. The film needed a scene or two demonstrating the overwhelming military power that the bad guys had at the ready. Jets, tanks, warships, armed battalions.
#2: A nighttime scene at a secret New Mexico air base (“Site Y”) being used by the bad guys shows Colonel William Henderson (Andrew Duggan) escaping with Senator Ray Clark (Edmond O’Brien) in an open-top military tank. Henderson rifle-butts a soldier and guns the tank over a sand dune and into the night. And nobody chases after them? Site Y security chiefs presumably have all kinds of jeeps and helicopters at their disposal, and they can’t catch a tank driving through the desert at 35 or 40 mph? Broderick and O’Brien should’ve escaped in a chopper. That I would half-buy.
I was too distracted to watch when this French teaser for Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable, which will debut at the Cannes Film Festival, appeared online last month. Set in the mid ’60s, the film is about a love affair between legendary nouvelle vague director Jean-Luc Godard and Au Hasard Balthazar and Weekend star Anne Wiazemsky. But what gets me here is Louis Garrel‘s channeling of Godard, particularly the low-key insouciance.
The film, which Godard has allegedly described as “a stupid idea”, is based on Wiazemsky’s writings about her Godard relationship, which began when she was in her late teens. Born in 1930, Godard was 17 years older than Wiazemsky. He wound up casting her in La Chinoise (’67), Weekend (’67) and One Plus One (’68). They were married between ’67 and ’79.
It’s been reported that Wiazemsky was 17 when her affair with Godard began. I’m figuring more like 19. She was born in ’47, and was 18 when Au Hasard, Balthazar (released on 5.25.66) was shot in the summer or fall of ’65. In her book “Jeune Fille” Wiazemsky wrote that Bresson was obsessed with her and never let her out of her sight, so it seems unlikely that Godard was circling her then. The timetable indicates that the Godard coupling began in late ’65 or ’66.
This is a catchy illustration, but why is Attorney General Jeff Sessions dragging James Comey off the plane with pilot Donald Trump looking on? All Sessions did was rubber-stamp Comey’s dismissal when Trump asked for a written rationale. Sessions was just the puppet, the stooge. Trump was the dragger.
The ghost of Powers Boothe is reading Lawrence Yee’s Variety obit and quietly seething. For Yee’s opening sentence describes Boothe as “a character actor.” Not “the renowned, ruggedly handsome, Emmy Award-winning actor known for his gruff, steely machismo” but “a” character actor. What Yee means is that Boothe’s peak period in the early to mid ’80s doesn’t mean that much, at least to him. But it does, or did, to those who were around and alert during the early Reagan years.
When Tom Cruise dies do you think Variety will describe him as “an” actor? The indignity! For once upon a time Powers Boothe was a brand, a force and a presence that was valued by top-rank directors.
His performance as demonic cult leader Jim Jones in Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones was easily the best thing Boothe ever did. Boothe won an Emmy for best lead actor in a limited series. The four-hour, two-part TV movie aired on CBS in April 1980. I haven’t rewatched it since but I would right now if it was streaming, but it’s only on DVD.
Boothe’s movie heyday boiled down to three films that followed Guyana Tragedy — Walter Hill‘s Southern Comfort (’81), John Milius‘s Red Dawn (’84) and John Boorman‘s The Emerald Forest (’85). For a while it seemed as if the Texas-born, conservative-leaning actor might become an Eastwood-like figure. Or at least a regular leading guy.
While I always respected Steely Dan‘s music (catchy hooks, jazzy instrumentation), I never really listened to their lyrics. Okay, I would half-listen, catching a line or a thought here and there, but mostly I succumbed to the complex, swoony melodies. Which is why for many years I had it my mind that the title of “Bodhisattva” was “Wadi Safra.” I just felt better about the latter, mainly because it was one of the desert locations shown and referred to in Lawrence of Arabia.
I may have glanced at the Countdown to Ecstasy liner notes and noted a song called “Bodhisattva”, but my feelings of kinship with Lawrence of Arabia overpowered anything Donald Fagen or Walter Becker had in mind. Particularly any notions of “a person who’s able to reach nirvana but delays out of compassion for fellow suffering beings.” And I’m speaking as someone who was once pretty well versed in nirvana terminology, thanks in part to the groundbreaking example of Cary Grant.