The tag line for Walter Hill‘s Streets of Fire was “Tonight is what it means to be young.” When producer Joel Silver saw the poor box-office numbers from the opening weekend, he quipped “Tonight is what it means to be dead.” The young, foxy-sexy, leather-adorned costars of this failed 1984 Universal release are now pushing the big six-oh, if not past it.
I actually stole the above headline from a Chinatown moment in which Ida Sessions (Diane Ladd) asks Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) if he’s “alone”, and Gittes replies “Isn’t everybody?” I don’t actually feel “alone” in this life. Because of Hollywood Elsewhere I feel like I’m part of a huge, roaming, fickle, transcontinental community, on top of which are the wife, the sons, the friends, the cats and the semi-close industry pallies. But at the end of the day and especially during the “hour of the wolf” or in the pre-pre-dawn hours (2:30 am to 5 am) we’re all pretty much alone in a sense. Not helpless, of course, or even lazy or weak necessarily, but whatever’s going on (or not going on) we all to have stand up and clear our heads and fix it ourselves. If we don’t do that, everyone and everything else will eventually fall away. That’s the message of High Noon, and it’s also the damn truth.
From Joshua Rothman‘s “The Growing Emptiness of the Star Wars Universe,” posted in The New Yorker on 5.31.18: “Early in William Gibson’s novel ‘Pattern Recognition,’ from 2003, Cayce Pollard, a highly paid professional ‘coolhunter,’ wanders through a London department store. Pollard is hypersensitive to the semiotics of brands: when a product is lame, she feels it physically, as a kind of pain. In the basement, she stumbles upon a display of clothes by Tommy Hilfiger. Recoiling from the ‘mountainside of Tommy,’ she thinks, ‘My God, don’t they know?’
“This stuff is simulacra of simulacra of simulacra. A diluted tincture of Ralph Lauren, who had himself diluted the glory days of Brooks Brothers, who themselves had stepped on the product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row…but Tommy surely is the null point, the black hole. There must be some Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul.
“I thought of this scene this weekend, after watching Solo: A Star Wars Story. “Solo” is an entertaining movie, with engaging performances, vivid production design and enthralling action sequences. It’s also distressingly forgettable — it’s about nothing, an episode of Seinfeld with hyperdrive.
“In ‘Pattern Recognition,’ Pollard wonders if Hilfiger’s blandness might be the source of his appeal: where most preppy clothes are freighted with meaning, Tommy allows you to look preppy without actually being that way. Similarly, Solo evokes Star Wars without quite being it. It isn’t the ‘null point’ of the franchise, but it’s close.”
From Owen Gleiberman‘s “Why the Tanking of Solo is a Force of Darkness for Star Wars,” posted by Variety this morning:
“There have now been 10 Star Wars films, and right up until Solo, each and every one of them produced the kind of box-office grosses that were potent enough to bend the universe with the magnetic power of their the-whole-world-is-watching! hegemony.
In a late 1950s, pre-Civil Rights legislation, liberally-endorsed metaphor kind of way, The Defiant Ones is a completely decent film. I’m only mentioning this because the Eureka Classics Bluray pops on 6.11. Notice how I’m conveying a vaguely dismissive attitude? Should every liberal-hearted social-issues film of the prehistoric past be so denigrated? I think it’s because Stanley Kramer‘s earnestly liberal brand of cinema has been put down for so many decades. There doesn’t seem to be any other permissible attitude toward the guy. I’ve always respected his brand while understanding that it represents a certain form of pat, tidy liberalism that was put out to pasture in the late ’60s.
Late yesterday afternoon Tatyana and I were hiking the trails and neighborhoods of Topanga Canyon. The sun was going down and the atmosphere was warm and fragrant and altogether perfect except for the flies, but while walking on Encina Road a couple of weird, vaguely negative encounters with older Topanga women occured.
Encounter #1: Tatyana and I were discussing the architectural stylings of some of the homes on Encina. At one point we wanted to get a better look so we went over to a wooden fence and peered over. Seconds later a 40ish woman drove up in her Prius and said, “Hi…may I help you? Are you looking for something?” Without missing a beat I turned and smiled and said, “No, no…we’re thieves. Just checking out some homes, you know…you have to decide which ones before you make your move.” The woman understood but persisted. “I just thought you might be lost, just asking,” she said. “We’re good,” I smiled back. “Just checking things out, deciding which homes to hit.”
We all know what it means when a stranger approaches in any kind of neutral territory or situation and says, “May I help you?” It means “you’re doing something I don’t like or approve of or feel 100% comfortable about, and so I’m going to fuck with you and assert my authority in order to steer you in another direction.” Between 98% and 99% of the time, that’s what “may I help you?” means.
Encounter #2: We were heading back to Entrada Road when a late 50ish hippie-chick type wearing a half-pound of mascara approached with the oldest and fattest Chihuahua I’ve ever seen in my life. It was as if the poor dog, who appeared to be in his mid 80s in canine years, had been eating nothing but cupcakes and french fries his entire life. I shouldn’t have said anything, but for some reason I said something about her dog being in his declining years. Mascara hippie chick stopped and turned and said, “Why did you just say that?” Me: “Sorry…it was the first thing that came into my mind.”
In fact, I lied — the first thing that came into my mind was that this poor dog would most likely be dead from a heart attack within six months or even sooner, and so I translated this observation into a vague remark about dotage.
“Well, I just got him from the pound,” the woman said with a steely, half-hostile smile, “and my first thought was that he’s beautiful.” I said something approving — “Sounds good!” — and we walked away. God, some people. We all understand love and compassion for mistreated animals, but the dog was clearly withered and not even close to healthy. Some things are better left unsaid. My bad.
Donald Trump’s totally unmitigated bullshit stream is “not a bug — it’s a feature.”
Sam Harris: “In large measure the Trump cult is a response to some of the excesses we’ve seen on the left. I consider myself liberal more or less across the board. But the identity politics and political correctness we’ve seen on the left has clearly created a backlash,” and so Trump and his supporters are basically saying they’ve “just had enough. But in this instance the cure, if you will, is much worse than the disease here. Identity politics on the left is now ushering in a [theology] of white identity politics, not just in America but in many western countries…we need to find some path in which our common humanity is the only basis upon which we reason and decide our path into the future.”