Last February Shawn Levy, author of “King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis,” recalled two face-to-face meetings with the late comic legend in San Diego, and then, some months after Levy’s book was published, receiving a spiteful handwritten letter. Just watch and listen. Lewis was no day at the beach.
I was no fan of Andrew Dosunmu‘s Where Is Kyra? after catching it during Sundance ’17. I called it “more or less a bust…a funereal quicksand piece about an unemployed middle-aged woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in a terrible financial jam, and about a relationship she has with a fellow down-and-outer (Keifer Sutherland). It’s a carefully calibrated, well-acted, oppressive gloomhead flick that feels like it’s happening inside a coffin or crypt. This is Dosunmu’s deliberate strategy, of course, but the end-of-the-road, my-life-is-over vibe is primarily manifested by the inky, mineshaft palette of dp Bradford Young — HE’s least favorite cinematographer by a country mile.”
Michelle Pfeiffer, Keifer Sutherland in Where Is Kyra?.
I don’t know anything but this morning a reader confided the following: “A producer [has] told me that Where Is Kyra? will be a 2018 release, most likely sometime first quarter although that’s not set in stone yet. But it will definitely be 2018 sometime, with no 2017 awards qualifying date for Pfeiffer. I know you didn’t like it overall, but it got great reviews from Variety, TimeOut New York, IndieWire and others, and Pfeiffer got rave reviews. It has 78% on RT so far, so it’s weird they’d just dump it in January or February. I think it at least deserves a December release for Pfeiffer. I doubt she would have gotten further than an Indie Spirit nom, but this sounds like a great showcase for her. Too bad.”
Timid drivers are the worst. I’m mainly thinking of people who’d rather sit and block traffic rather than risk being clipped as they try to pull around a driver who’s looking to make a left turn. But judgmental drivers are nearly as bad. Last week I was edging my way across the lanes of West Third Street, and a woman looking to pull out from the other side began frowning and repeatedly shaking her head. Performing her disapproval! I hate drivers like this (I never frown and shake my head at anyone), but they’re totally commonplace so what can you do?
A couple of days later I ran into a lethal combination — a timid and judgmental driver in one.
I was about to pull out of an east-facing Sony Studios parking lot (Madison gate) around 9:30 or 10 pm. But improperly because I’d nudged my way into the street. About half of my Mini Cooper was sticking out, but I was totally stationary as I waited for the light to change. And there was absolutely zero traffic on Madison, which is a four-lane street. Along comes a woman driver on my left side, driving in the lane closest to the sidewalk, and she comes to a full stop. “What’s she doing?” I said aloud to my two passengers. “Just pull back in,” one of them said. So I backed up four or five feet and the woman moved on.
In performing a freeze-stop the woman was (a) showing excessive concern that I might suddenly lunge in front of her, despite the light being in her favor and (b) acting out a form of judgment. She was saying “Oh, you’re so anxious to leave the parking lot that you can’t restrain yourself, that you’re halfway into the street? Well, that’s impolite and arrogant, and so I’m expressing my disapproval by stopping dead in the street. I could turn slightly to the left and just drive around you, but it’s more satisfying to come to a dead stop and just stare at you.”
I’m not saying I wasn’t incorrect by having nudged into the street, but this ridiculous episode would never have happened in Rome or Paris. Drivers there aren’t hung up on judgment and throwing little dramatic fits. They just drive around and go on their way.
From Owen Gleiberman‘s latest Variety essay, “Healthy Tomatoes? The Danger of Film Critics Speaking as One,” posted this morning: “Remember when film critics were obsolete? When we’d lost our swagger, our sway, our influence? When it seemed like the entire world had gone critic-proof, because we just didn’t matter anymore?
“It’s hard to pinpoint when, exactly, film critics attained Peak Irrelevance, but it’s starting to seem like an eon ago, because this summer a chorus of people — moviegoers, film-industry executives, critics themselves — have been singing a very different tune. It’s called: We’re back! Critics, in case you hadn’t heard, have emerged from the dark cave of our obsolescence and are once again bringing the news, keeping the studios in check, making the world safe for bad movies to die the grisly box-office death they deserve. Look out, Emoji Movie! We’re coming at you with a pitchfork.
“As someone with a vested interest in thinking that critics matter, I’d argue that our influence never totally went away. There was certainly a perception that it did, a feeling that went hand in hand with the notion that we were elitist art-head snobs who stood on the other side of a divide from the mainstream audience. Film critics have been called out for elitism ever since there were movies, but in an age when mega-budget franchise filmmaking had become a literal universe, one that dwarfs everything around it (including critics), that hostility reached a new pitch of jaded dismissal.”
HE response to Gleiberman: “I’m glad critics are back also, but there’s still an elite cadre of ivory-tower snobs who have done and are continuing to do their level best to convince Average Joe ticket-buyers to be highly suspicious of critical opinion. One result is that while every critic on RT loved Logan Lucky, for the most part Joe & Jane Popcorn stayed away in droves. A famous Samuel Goldwyn‘s statement has been quoted a million times and has never stopped being true. “If people don’t want to see something, you can’t stop ’em.”
From Snopes.com: “While we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact origins of the colorized version of the poster, we were able to confirm that this is a genuine piece of comic book art that was originally released in 1949. According to a 2008 Hakes auction, the below-displayed comic was released as a school book cover in 1949 and was distributed by the The Institute For American Democracy, Inc.”
Everyone who saw Patti Cake$ at last January’s Sundance Film Festival went nuts for it. The after-buzz was huge, and this led to a bidding war between Fox Searchlight, Focus Features, Neon, Annapurna and The Orchard. Fox Searchlight won distrib rights for $9.5 million — the second-highest movie buy at that high-altitude festival. (Amazon’s $12 million purchase of The Big Sick was the topper.) But Joe and Jane Popcorn apparently don’t care (or never bothered to read about) what the Sundance crowd thought. Boxofficemojo reports that Patti Cake$ has only made a lousy $66 grand on 14 screens this weekend. That averages out to $4711 per screen over three days of showings. What is it about “this movie is really, really likable” that Joe and Jane failed to understand? How could they fail to consider the fact that when someone like myself likes Patti Cake$, that it really means something? Why are Joe and Jane always so slow to wake up to fresh lights on the horizon and fresh scents in the air? Patti Cake$ will open on 300-400 screens over the Labor Day weekend, or two weeks hence.
After 91 and 1/2 years, the feisty and flinty Jerry Lewis is gone. The indisputable king of comedy during the Martin & Lewis heyday of the early to mid ’50s (although their partnership actually began in Atlantic City in ’46), and a boldly experimental avant-garde comedic auteur from the late ’50s to late ’60s. And a truly delicious prick of a human being when he got older, and oh, how I loved him for that. Refusing to suffer fools can be a dicey thing when you’re younger and have to get along, but it’s a blessing when you’re an old fart with money in the bank.
I know that Lewis was one of my first impersonations when I was a kid….”Hey, ladeeeeeee!” (I performed this for director Penelope Spheeris way back when, and while she could’ve gone “uh-huh” she said “hey, that’s pretty good!”)
If you were born in the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s and therefore haven’t a clue who Jerry Lewis was, please, please consider reading Shawn Levy’s “The King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis,” which I’ve long regarded as the best researched, the best written and probably the most honest portrait of the occasionally contentious Lewis. If you get hold of a paperback or Kindle copy, find the passages to do with Bob Crane — hair-raising. Or the business about Levy and Lewis in the epilogue, which, Levy says, “were so infamous that I’m told Marty Short spent an evening entertaining Tom Hanks and Paul Reiser at dinner doing impressions of Jerry from it.”
You also have to read Nick Tosches‘ rhapsodic, utterly brilliant “Dino: Living High In the Dirty Business of Dreams.”
I can’t sit here on a Sunday morning and tap out some brilliant, all-knowing, heart-touching essay on what a huge electrical energy force Lewis was for 20 years in the middle of the 20th Century. So I’m just going to paste some choice HE posts, starting with an excerpt from my one and only interview with the guy at the Stein Erickson hotel during the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and on through to my last in-person encounter when Lewis did a q & a at the Aero theatre to promote Daniel Noah’s Max Rose.
Posted on 5.1.13: “Jerry Lewis has long been regarded as a difficult man, but listen to him at this recent Tribeca Film Festival appearance. He’s 87 and yet he seems more engaged and feisty and crackling than the vast majority of his contemporaries. There’s something about old show-business buzzards. The scrappy survival instincts that helped them make it when young are the same qualities that keep them sharp in their doddering years. You don’t have to be a prick to be intellectually focused and alert (the elegant Norman Lloyd is in his late 90s and a beautiful man to speak with) but if given a choice between a state of advanced vegetation and being a Jerry Lewis type of old guy, I’d definitely go with the latter. I suspect that Lewis biographer Shawn Levy will go ‘hmmm’ when he reads this.”
I can understand AMC’s alarm about Moviepass dropping its monthly fee to $9.95, which would theoretically allow subscribers to see one movie per day at participating theatres for…what, 34 cents per show? When Movie Pass began the monthly cost was $45. AMC is looking to bail out of its partnership with Moviepass, calling the cheaper fee a harbinger of “an unustainable business model.” I’m presuming that 97% of Moviepass holders only see two or three films per month. The Moviepass come-on is roughly analogous to a restaurant offering one of those “eat all you want, stay as long as you want” buffet for a flat fee.