As far as I can guess or discern, mother! (Paramount, 9.15) is a movie about monsters consuming a victim. I don’t know anything, but it may be some kind of pervy, bloody-lightbulb descendant of Rosemary’s Baby. JLaw is Rosemary, Javier Bardem is Guy Woodhouse, and Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are sexualized versions of Roman and Minnie Castevet. Could there be a vague relation to Edgar Allen Poe‘s “The Casque of Amontillado“?
Camille Paglia‘s trangender rap, taped last April, in a nutshell: Youthful alienation has been a constant in American culture for decades. In the late ’40s and ’50s it was being a Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg-styled beatnik. In the mid ’60s to early ’70s it was becoming a hippie taking psychedelic adventures or a political radical. Today you’re encouraged to think that your alienation is possibly because you don’t identify with your inherited gender, and so young people are being encouraged to surgically change genders. It’s all part of general leftist academic thinking about sexual fluidity, and it’s not only ominous but a sign of cultural collapse.
If some rightwing guy on Fox were to say this, I would dismiss it. But because I’m a longtime Paglia worshipper, I feel differently.
I lived and struggled in Manhattan (mostly in Soho and the West Village) between ’77 and ’83, and I got around, trust me. In all those years I noticed exactly one prostitute on the street — a short, pretty Latina who gestured in my direction as I was walking out of the 96th Street IRT station around midnight. The only place where I’ve ever noticed several prostitutes in the same general location was in Prague in May of ’92 — honest. And the only sexual episode that happened on the old, sleazy 42nd Street was when I was 13 or 14, when a 40ish gay guy (an old-fashioned creepy predator) tried to put the moves on me. I gave him the stink-eye. HBO will premiere The Deuce on 9.10.17.
Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven will celebrate its 25th anniversary with special one-off screenings of a 4K restored version on Tuesday, 8.15. I’d like to attend one in Los Angeles at a decent venue, but Fandango isn’t listing a venue as we speak. I wanted to see the 4K version in Cannes last May, but I couldn’t fit it in.
Sometime in late ’18 or certainly by 2019, Amazon Studios’ Lucy and Desi, an Aaron Sorkin-written biopic with Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett playing Lucille Ball, will open in theatres. Obviously an Oscar bait thing for Blanchett and perhaps for the guy they get to play Desi Arnaz.
Married for 20 years (1940 to ’60), Lucy and Desi had a turbulent union from the get-go, largely due to the Cuban-born Arnaz being an incessant tomcatter. (Ball filed for divorce in September 1944 over infidelity, but they patched things up.) Desi’s hound-dogging when into overdrive during the incredibly successful 1950s run of I Love Lucy. She finally divorced him in ’60. Keep in mind that Lucy, born in 1911, was six years older than Desi, and that her sexy blue-eyed redhead years peaked between the early ’30s and early ’40s, and that she liked her highballs and smoked like a chimney. (As a result she developed one of the greatest female booze-and-cigarette voices in Hollywood history.) By the time she made The Facts of Life with Bob Hope, Ball’s hottie days were well behind her. Remember also that back in the prehistoric days a certain strain of Latin male considered rooster behavior to be a birthright if not a point of pride.
If you want to bask in the Lucy-and-Desi thing when things were truly hot, fresh, moist and bloomy, watch Too Many Girls.
Hollywood Elsewhere has never seen a Tommy Wirkola film (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), and the odds are greatly against seeing his latest, What Happened To Monday. In her Locarno Film Festival review, Variety‘s Jessica Kiang has described Wirkola’s film as “a ludicrous, violent, amusingly dumb sci-fi actioner…that casts Noomi Rapace as septuplets battling a dystopian regime.”
To which I replied, “There’s NO SUCH THING as ‘amusingly dumb’ in the context of movie attitude or tone. Certainly not if it’s also ludicrous and violent. There’s hilariously idiotic, of course, but…”
Kiang: “Not sure I get the fine distinction between those near-synonymous phrases, to be honest?”
HE reply: “Hilariously idiotic = stateroom scene in Night at the Opera, Woody Allen bits in What’s Up Tiger Lily, etc. Instances in which the filmmakers are definitely in on the joke. Amusingly dumb = lazy-ass fart fungus toenail dead-brain humor…open question as to whether filmmakers are in on the joke, or whether they’re defaulting to sloth-like sensibilities.”
Last weekend two manly, fully mature critics, Joe Leydon and Stephen Whitty, took Hollywood Elsewhere to task for expressing garden-variety hormonal enthusiasm over what I carefully chose to describe as a “hot lesbo” scene in Margaret Betts‘ Novitiate, or more precisely an erotic third-act scene between two lesbian nuns. Echoing the tedious viewpoint expressed last January by Glenn Kenny, Leydon lamented the adolescent associations with the term and more or less said that seasoned, worldly fellows with gray hair and commendable accomplishments should never go there. Whitty said roughly the same, arguing that “thinking like a man” means “not thinking and feeling like a boy.”
They don’t get it. When a truly erotic scene suddenly happens in the midst of an otherwise “decent but no great shakes” film, the blood warms up and the viewer is suddenly awake, alive and attuned. This is what happened when the Sundance audience saw Novitiate at the Eccles last January, and why everyone was talking about “that scene.” Leydon and Whitty can trot out their “tut-tut” and “harumph” routines all they want, but I was there. And if experiencing hormonal surges by way of a film are a mark of adolescent immaturity, and if denial or suppression of same is a mark of seasoned maturity, I’ll take the former, thanks. And if I choose not to mask said surges with harumphy, tut-tut terminology, that’s what many of us would call “acceptance.” Life is short, allow for the occasional gusto moment, let it in, etc.
Final remark to Leydon, Whitty: I didn’t write and direct the third-act lesbian scene in Novitiate — Margaret Betts did. If you have a problem with this sort of thing, take it up with her. I just sat down and watched it and shared what I shared.
If a non-showbiz marriage ends after eight years, it probably means that the parties gave it their all and embraced the right kind of devotional selflessness for five or six or seven years. Marriages usually work out if the husband accepts that the wife is the absolute boss, and if he begins each and every day on his knees, ready and eager to do her bidding. It really is that simple. When marriages don’t work out, it’s usually because the husband has decided to stand tall, look the wife in the eye and speak bluntly. (Never do that!) Or because of infidelity or, as Val Kilmer once said, “not enough steaks in the freezer.” But if a showbiz marriage dies after eight years….well, they did it right for a long while but their careers got in the way. Which is to say the wife’s career surged while the husband’s ran out of gas (i.e., A Star Is Born). Or the other way around (i.e., Chris Pratt and Ana Faris). Another thing that destroys a showbiz marriage is when a movie they’ve made together is critically savaged and then dies at the box-office (i.e., Brad and Angie’s By The Sea). And it never helps if either party has an alcohol issue (i.e., Brad at the time of his split from Angie).
— Jason (@jasonosia) August 7, 2017