Time magazine has been publishing for 94 years. It was a major, highly influential news weekly for…what, a half-century? Time is still respected with a circulation of 3 million plus, but it’s been decreasing in influence since the late ’90s. I have this idea that Time mattered in a necessary, must-read cultural sense in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, but that’s just something I’ve pulled out of my ass. Maybe it also mattered in the ’80s and early ’90s. I’m mentioning this because Time is all but dead now, having agreed to sell itself to the Meredith Corporation in a deal backed by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire fucktards who aren’t Trump supporters but have otherwise come to represent the worst anti-progressive forces in this country, everything evil and toxic and fossil fuel-y. From N.Y. Times story: Meredith, which publishes popular monthly magazines like Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens, has arranged for a $600 million cash infusion from the Koch brothers through their private equity arm, Koch Equity Development.”
From “Year One: The Mad King,” an 11.10 New York Review of Books piece by Charles Sykes: “Less than a year into his presidency, we hear the same question again and again: What will it take? What has to happen for Republicans to break with their Mad King?
“The honest answer is: Who knows? Whatever people have said has to happen has, in fact, already happened, over and over again, and the GOP has swallowed it anyway. A year ago, Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s attacks on a Mexican-American judge a ‘textbook definition’ of racism, but today Ryan is one of Trump’s most reliable and chirpy cheerleaders. Every line has already been crossed, every norm broken, every standard of decency shattered and yet four out of five GOP voters still back him.
“Even as Robert Mueller’s investigation accelerates, there are few signs that the party has any will to resist him. In the last year and a half, Trump has succeeded in moving the window of acceptability in our politics, especially on the right. The collaborators rationalize their response thus: if they did not go along, then power would shift to even worse actors. As the former presidential aide Steve Bannon plots a populist revanchist rebellion, some Republicans tell themselves that it is better to be a Vichy Republican, a quiescent enabler, than one of the denizens of Bannon’s Crazytown.
My recollections of Paul Schrader‘s Blue Collar (’78) are on the vague side. It was reasonably well regarded back in the day, or so I recall. But I couldn’t remember much about the plot. I could only recall three angry, financially struggling auto workers (Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto) pulling off a half-assed heist, and things becoming worse as a result. So I read Vincent Canby‘s N.Y. Times review (which ran on 2.10.78) and I still couldn’t recall anything. That’s usually a bad sign.
During filming of Blue Collar, sometime in ’77: (l. to r.) Paul Schrader, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto, Richard Pryor.
Blue Collar‘s production history was unstable and conflicted. A recent Cinephilia & Beyond piece reports that “filming was tumultuous.” At one point Pryor pulled a gun on Schrader and refused to do any more than three takes. “Pryor was the unhappiest person I ever met,” Schrader said on a voiceover commentary. “After about three weeks in, I was in the middle of the set and all of a sudden I started crying and…couldn’t stop.”
Schrader later admitted that “Pryor’s best performance would be found in those second or third takes and that he would become bored and begin to improvise from thereon, to the annoyance of Keitel.”
“A day did not go by without some form of provocation,” Schrader recalls. “Either physical or verbal or walking off [the set]. It was just trench warfare.”
Blue Collar was widely praised by critics. (I think.) Roger Ebert liked it. I’ve already rented the streaming, but I have an idea that a making-of doc might be more interesting.
To go by an 11.26 Guardian interview, Susan Sarandon is still loathed by the left. Deeply. Not so much for trashing Hillary Clinton (many lefties voted for Clinton while holding their nose) as her support for Bernie Sanders and particularly Jill Stein, whose presence on the Presidential ballot may have helped Donald Trump win the White House. Stein, for example, got 51,463 votes in Michigan, but Trump won that state by 10,704. Similar tallies prevailed in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
But Sarandon tells the Guardian‘s Emma Brockes that voting for Jill Stein in New York State was a harmless protest vote. “I knew that New York was going to go [for Hillary]…it was probably the easiest place to vote for Stein.”
Brockes asks Sarandon if she really said that Hillary is “more dangerous” than Trump. “Not exactly, but I don’t mind that quote,” Sarandon replies. “I did think she was very, very dangerous. We would still be fracking, we would be at war [if she was president]. It wouldn’t be much smoother. Look what happened under Obama that we didn’t notice.” Sarandon’s view isn’t that extreme. Peter Kuznick, co-author with Oliver Stone of “The Untold History of the United States,” said roughly the same thing three years ago. “Hillary’s foreign policy is very dangerous,” he said. “[She’s] Margaret Thatcher…such a smart woman, but such a simplistic narrative.”
In an 11.26 Forbes piece about the box-office performance of Justice League, you can sense that Scott Mendelson is not coming from a neutral place. He sounds like a Warner Bros. marketing guy trying to cheer up exhibitors about the viability of the DC brand. ($481 million and climbing! Yay, team!) Then again Mendelson does allude to the fact that the Justice League budget is “so big that a $600 million-plus worldwide total is cause for alarm.”
That references an 11.20 report by Forbes‘ Rob Cain that forecasts a possible $50 to $100 million loss, due to Justice League costing $300 million to make and $150M to market, which requires worldwide earnings of $750 million just to break even. ‘
Mendelson adds that “if Justice League continues to play somewhere between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the film may just flirt with $250 million domestic, or about what Tim Burton’s Batman earned back in 1989.” Yeah, 28 years ago. But these days, the 1989 dollar is worth $1.97. Which means that by today’s yardstick, Batman‘s domestic earnings, which were actually $251,188,924, come to $494,842,180.
“Justice League is still alive, but it’s not yet well,” Mendelson concludes. “It held up just well enough to give a little hope for the next two weeks, but not well enough for anyone to pop the champagne.”
Who outside of certain cast members and Warner Bros. employees…who would want to celebrate the box-office success of Justice League? That would be like celebrating the triumph of the dark side over the rebellion.