When Paul McCartney alluded earlier today to the shooting death of John Lennon with the phrase “one of my best friends” I immediately flashed on that Lennon line from a 1971 Rolling Stone interview, in which he described the disapproving McCartney and George Harrison (they didn’t initially care for Yoko Ono) as “some of our beast friends.”
Three separate harassment claims surfacing at the same moment struck me as odd, and so I asked if the three persons (women, I presumed) had “come forward as a group, or did the harassment complaints surface of their own volition and time clock, and just happened to arrive at roughly the same time?”
In an in-house memo sent yesterday (Friday, 3.23) to Academy staffers, Bailey stated that the whole magillah is about one woman — not three apparently — complaining about a single incident that happened more than a decade ago. It concerns his having “attempted to touch a woman inappropriately while we were both riding in a transport van on a movie set,” according to Bailey’s memo. He added, “That did not happen.”
Bailey may or may not have inappropriately touched (or attempted to inappropriately touch) a woman during a ride to a movie set in a van more than a decade ago. I wasn’t there. I know nothing. And it’s possible that something more than touching actually went on, I realize.
As I said in an 11.1.17 piece called “Past Predators,” I was inappropriately touched once at age 19. After a night of drunkenness I woke up in bed with an old fat guy — bald, blubbery, smelling of booze — in a New Orleans hotel room. I bounded the fuck out of bed and got dressed in a hurry, going “jeez” and “good God” and mostly feeling icky rather than assaulted. Definitely distasteful, but not exactly a case of lingering traumatic shock.
Genius is the title of a National Geographic anthology series. The first product of this anthology was a feature about Albert Einstein (popped on 4.25.17); the second (due to air on 4.24.18) is about Pablo Picasso. But the title is so bad. A Picasso biopic could be theoretically called Picasso or, if you insist, Genius, but calling it Genius: Picasso sounds like the musings of a drooling moron. Exec produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, pic costars Antonio Banderas, Alex Rich and Clemence Poesy. Picasso was quite the salivating hound, as we all know. Every day his ghost kneels and gives thanks to the Gods for having been spared the wrath of #TimesUp and #MeToo.
This morning I happened to re-read a nearly six-year-old essay titled “Ways In Which Jaws Faintly Blows.” And I was saying to myself “whoa, this isn’t half bad!” I know I should wait until the summer months to repost stuff like this, but I’m not a wait-for-the-right-season type of guy. If something’s good, it’s good. Here it is:
I’m not calling Jaws a problem film. It obviously isn’t and never has been. But it’s the movie equivalent of a lightweight beach read. Engrossing, highly accessible, fun to follow, entertaining. It’s like a great dinner — zesty, well prepared, exhilarating in a sense — but like all great dishes it fades upon reflection. And it may not even be that.
It’s actually more like a great dessert. Made with confidence bordering on swagger (young Spielberg was as good as it got in this realm) and summer-movie attitude, but all you remember at the end of the day are the bits, the tricks, the cherry and the whipped cream.
Add up all the parts and you’re left with a collection of parts. There’s no real muscle tissue, no wholeness, no gravitas, no “things that are not said” and no metaphor other than “uh-oh, life can be occasionally scary or threatening because of the existence of predators…wooooh.” It has several great bits (the severed leg, the fake-looking dead guy’s head, the chumming and the Bruce pop-out, “you’re gonna need a bigger boat”) and that one great moment when Robert Shaw‘s Quint talks about being in the sea with the survivors of the sunken U.S.S. Indianapolis.
It’s just a summer movie that made a lot of money and played a seminal role in the ruining of the great era of Hollywood achievement that began in the late ’60s and ended in the early ’80s. (It took a while.) If you want to buy the Jaws Bluray to have and hold, fine. If it still works for you, fine. I just don’t hold with calling it a great or even an especially sturdy film. It’s merely an effective one.
I never believed the opening scene. I’ve always been impressed by it, sure, but only as a movie bit. I never believed that a shark would pull a naked girl back and forth across the water’s surface so she can shriek and scream for our delectation. (I suspect that shark death is probably much worse and a good deal less cinematic than this.) Again — I’m not putting it down. I’m just saying that like almost everything Spielberg does, it’s unreliable and manipulative.
In a 3.20 interview with England’s UTV News, Steven Spielberg said that Netflix should compete for Emmys and not Oscars. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” he said. “If it’s a good show it deserves an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”
On one hand, I half agree. And on another hand, I wonder. Theatrical belongs to the Oscar realm, and direct-to-streaming is an Emmy thing. But isn’t this kind of an early-aughts, George Bush administration way of looking at things? Obviously the lines are getting hazier and hazier these days.
Consider how the big distributors have deliberately degraded theatrical over the last decade or so. Theatrical used to be the big leagues, the blue-chip realm, the ultimate destination of the best films being made by the best people. But in today’s world, the adult goodies appear in theatres only during the last two or three months of the year, and sparingly at that. For the most part the theatrical realm of 2018 means “mainly for morons.” Idiot-brand superhero franchise comic-book CG Asian-market, etc.
The stuff they preview these days at Cinemacon, the biggest exhibition convention of all, is the proof in the pudding. 10 or 15 years ago, when Cinemacon was called Showest, the studio previews would be…what, half or two-thirds popcorn and maybe one-third prestige? Now they don’t even preview ambitious adult films — Cinemacon just focuses on the high-impact, Dwayne Johnson-starring popcorn crap.
In the same interview Spielberg said, “A lot of studios would just rather make branded, tentpole, guaranteed box-office hits from their inventory of branded, successful movies rather than take chances on smaller films.”
And then Spielberg acknowledged something significant: “The smaller films that the studios used to make routinely are now going to Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. And by the way, television is the greatest today it’s ever been in the history of television…better writing, better direction, better performances, better story…television is really thriving with quality and art. But it poses a clear and present danger to film culture.”
In other words, Spielberg allowed, approximations of the small or smallish theatrical prestige movies that occasionally won nominations and awards in the old days — On the Waterfront, Marty, Twelve Angry Men, Room At The Top, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lilies of the Field, Hud, Midnight Cowboy, Zorba The Greek, Dr. Strangelove, Alfie, Blow-Up, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, The French Connection — are now being made (or at least trying to be made) by Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, AMC, National Geographic and a few others. And presumably Apple when that operation goes into full swing.
John Bolton‘s bushy white moustache reigns supreme. It is everything, the all of the guy, the whole magilla. You can explain it away as an aesthetic decision that Bolton made decades ago, privately, most likely in his bathroom. He simply decided he looked better with it, but what’s “better” in this context? There’s something staunch and strutting and ultra-adamant about that ‘stache, something militant and even San Juan Hill-ish, amounting to a kind of declaration of independence from calm, sensible assessments of the intentions of foreign powers.
“Famously hawkish” is a common description of the man; I would say “fiendishly” based on my gut sense of who he really is.
Bolton is, of course, Donald Trump‘s new National Security Advisor-designate. He’ll reportedly begin the job on 4.9.18.
From Michael Wolff‘s “Fire and Fury“: “[Bolton is] a bomb thrower,” said Roger Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”
“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”
“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”
“If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”
Consider the Bolton assessments by syndicated columnist Mark Shields and mildly conservative N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks on last night’s PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff:
Shields: “John Bolton is not just ideologically fixed where he’s been. Unlike his apparent foes within the administration, Jim Mattis, secretary of defense, and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he has never comforted anybody dying in battle. He’s never written to a next of kin. He avoided military service himself.
I don’t know how long I’ve been throwing “jizz whizz” around, but one of the earlier usages was in an 8.4.12 downgrade piece about Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws. For what it’s worth a commenter named Ian T said that “jizz whizz is a term that needs to catch on.” I swear to God it just hit me one day. Sounded right, that was that. This morning I discovered, to my great chagrin, what may be the origin of the term — an unreleased Jeff Beck track from “Beck, Bogert & Appice“, an early ’70s album. The track was included in a 1991 compilation album called “Beckology.” No denying the facts, flabbergasted all the same.