President Trump spoke to reporters about his call with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. When asked if he told Mr. Putin not to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, the president said, “We didn’t discuss that.” They didn’t discuss it? Trump decided to let it slide, brush it under the rug? Does he think the Russians won’t be interfering again in 2020? More likely is that Trump knows (or at least has been told) that the Russians will most likely re-meddle, and he doesn’t care.
Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe‘s finest and most personal film, opened 18 and 1/3 years ago. I remain a huge fan, especially of the 162-minute director’s cut “bootleg” version that came out on Bluray in 2011.
Crowe’s initial theatrical version ran 122 minutes, in part because Dreamworks producer Walter Parkes kept insisting on “shorter, shorter, shorter.” It felt a bit constricted, didn’t really breathe. The 162-minute Bluray is the definitive version.
During production I got hold of a 1998 copy of Crowe’s script. It was 168 pages long, and I fell in love with it straight off. Almost all of it was shot and most of it became part of the final cut. Unfortunately my favorite scene (which is posted after the jump) wasn’t shot or was shot and never used.
Almost Famous is a largely autobiographical saga about a teenaged, San Diego-residing Crowe stand-in (called William Miller in the script and played by Patrick Fugit) landing a Rolling Stone assignment to profile an up-and-coming band called Stillwater, which had a star performer called Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup).
William hangs out with the band, gets into all kinds of wild-ass adventures, gets to know the Stillwater groupies and so on. After a false start he eventually turns in an honestly written article to Rolling Stone.
Russell and the band members are alarmed when the fact-checker calls. Fearful of being portrayed as insecure dipshits, they lie by insisting that Miller’s account is fiction. The article is killed, and William returns home in a state of defeat and total exhaustion.
The final graph of the Wiki synopsis: “Russell feels guilty for betraying William. He calls Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and wants to meet with her, but she tricks him by giving him William’s address. He arrives and finds himself face-to-face with William’s mother (Frances McDormand), who scolds him for his behavior. Russell apologizes to William and finally gives him an interview. Russell, we learn, has verified William’s article to Rolling Stone, which runs it as a cover feature. Penny fulfills her long-standing fantasy to go to Morocco. Stillwater again tours only by bus.”
To the best of my knowledge, this legendary poster for Richard Thorpe‘s Jailhouse Rock is a stand-alone in one specific respect. It’s the only big-studio release that that sold itself with a big painted profile of the star (i.e., Elvis Presley) that…wait for it…doesn’t look like the star at all. A slapdash resemblance but that’s all.
The poster was used, I’m guessing, because producer Pandro S. Berman, who’d been a big-studio operator since the early ’30s and was in his early 50s at the time, didn’t give that much of a shit. He knew that the dark pompadour-and-sideburns hair sold the Presley presence, which everyone knew from his two previous films, Loving You and Love Me Tender, and his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and whatnot. But the face doesn’t look like Presley at all. The eyes are way, way off, not to mention the bizarre jawline and the weird, brushed-forward sideburns.
Young Elvis had a kind of half rock-and-roll rebel, half pretty-girl appearance. He had big luscious eyes and sensuous lips, but he wasn’t anyone’s idea of “manly.” The guy in this painting is an older professional illustrator’s “idea” of Presley without having actually settled into his face. To me it’s a portrait of a good-looking Presley wannabe.
THREE MOVIES I HATE: Memoirs of a Geisha, Cannonball Run II, Crazy Stupid Love.
THREE MOVIES I THINK ARE OVERRATED: Forrest Gump, Get Out, The Artist.
THREE MOVIES I THINK ARE UNDERRATED: Silver Linings Playbook, The Outfit, Castle Keep.
THREE MOVIES I LOVE: The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Paths of Glory, Sideways.
THREE MOVIES I CHERISH: L’Avventura, Zero Dark Thirty, Rushmore.
THREE MOVIES I COULD WATCH ON REPEAT: Shane, Dr. Strangelove, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.
THREE MOVIES THAT MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH MOVIES: King Kong, Shane, Foreign Correspondent.
THREE MOVIES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: War of the Worlds, Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia.
THREE GUILTY-PLEASURE MOVIES: Ant Man, North to Alaska, Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy.
THREE MOVIES I SHOULD HAVE SEEN BY NOW BUT HAVEN’T: Stalker, Rules of the Game, Chimes at Midnight.
“It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe on the first sunny day of spring. And as you walk past a bookstore, you will notice a book in the main display window — a thriller by James Grady called ‘Six Days of the Condor.’
“Something about the sound of that title will immediately intrigue you, but before you reach the next stoplight you’ll know that six days of plot are too many for a movie — that somehow the days will have to be reduced to three or four. You’ve read in the trades that Peter Yates, the Bullitt guy, intends to adapt the book faithfully as a six-day thing, but somehow you know he will ultimately fail.
“And then a moment later an American car, a dark sedan with tinted windows, will pull over, and an actor you know and perhaps even trust will get out. And he will smile, a becoming smile. And he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.”
The walking man was Sydney Pollack, of course, and the actor in the dark sedan was Robert Redford. Weeks and then months passed, and eventually Pollack, Redford, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. and Pollack’s ace-in-the-hole punch-up writer David Rayfiel had reduced the story to three days.
Her assessment is not only correct, but the sharpest I’ve read anywhere. Yes, I’m impressed because she largely agrees with my own 4.24 pan. Toronto Star critic Peter Howell also understands and tells it straight.
A lot of reviewers are giving Long Shot a pass (83% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), calling it a “charming popcorn flick” or an outing that does the trick or delivers a good time, etc. Put a check mark next to every such reviewer as a way of reminding yourself to NEVER trust these guys again, at least when it comes to comedy.
Hornaday: “Long Shot, a fantasy-fueled romantic comedy starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron, establishes its reality-adjacent ethos from the jump: In its tensely amusing opening scene Rogen’s character, an investigative reporter named Fred Flarsky, has infiltrated a neo-Nazi group and is undergoing an initiation, giving half-hearted ‘Heil, Hitlers’ and keeping the sarcastic patter going as he prepares to get a swastika tattoo.
“The sequence plays like BlacKkKlansman‘s goofball cousin, made all the more ludicrous when Fred escapes the escalating mayhem by jumping out a window and bouncing off a parked car with nary a scratch. Welcome to the raucous, cheerfully preposterous world of Long Shot, where slapstick physical comedy, coarse sex jokes and amusingly on-point political commentary are expected to coexist as happily as the self-righteous, adamantly inelegant Fred and Charlotte Field, Theron’s pragmatic, sleekly fashionable secretary of state who falls in love with him.
Best line of entire review…yes!: “You don’t have to suspend disbelief to enjoy Long Shot — you have to jettison it entirely, along with any sentimental attachments to archaic fundamentals such as sparkling dialogue, organic structure and genuine sexual chemistry.