This Once Upon A Time in Hollywood poster lays it right on the line. It says to potential viewers “we’re not a film — we’re a swaggering, half-smirking, eye-winking, cock-of-the-walk movie. We’re not a Michael Mann or a David Fincher film. It’s too bad all the drive-ins are closed because we’d be gangbusters on one of those big fucking outdoor screens, all dirty and half-ripped. We’re not L’Eclisse or Who’ll Stop The Rain, and we sure as shit aren’t Charlie Says. We’re into late ’60s atmosphere and Brad Pitt as Mr. Zen Cool, especially when he takes his Hawaiian shirt off. We’re not The Nice Guys but maybe a little bit like Paul Bogart‘s Marlowe…know that one? 1969? James Garner as Phillip Marlowe? That’s partly where we’re coming from. You all know the Quentin attitude movie-lore thing, and you’ve seen his last five or six films…we’re not selling anything tricky or complex or heavily shaded here. You just need to buy a ticket, grab an extra-buttered large popcorn and a large Diet Coke and settle back.”
Over the last three or four decades I’ve seen dozens of features and docs about rock bands, and not one of them has conveyed how difficult it is to make rock music sound really good. Good enough, I mean, to build a name for your band and maybe attract a modest following, or stir some level of interest on the part of competing labels. Let alone good enough to become serious rock stars.
Any bunch of musicians can get together and bang out a few chords and sing songs that sound reasonably decent. It’s easy as shit to become a garage band or even one good enough to make people get up and dance at a bar. But it’s difficult as hell to sound really tight and true.
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I haven’t seen Jake Scott‘s American Woman (Roadside/Vertical, 6.14), a hardscrabble child-rearing drama starring Sienna Miller. But I know that an erroneous impression about the film is conveyed in a 5.12 Miller interview by Indiewire‘s Kate Erbland.
The headline reads “Sienna Miller Explains Why She Finally Tackled a Lead Role After Acting For 20 Years.” The article begins by describing American Woman as “a smart and progressive film rooted in the female experience…more than that, it stars Miller as the eponymous American woman, marking the first lead role for the actress in a 20-year career.”
In the third paragraph Erbland quotes Miller as follows: “I’ve never carried a film…to be in every scene was really daunting and really challenging, without having a bigger male costar to hide behind and blame things on or being a vehicle for someone else’s film.”
In fact Miller carried a film 13 years ago when she played Edie Sedgwick in George Hickenlooper‘s Factory Girl (’07), which I found sad, striking, richly atmospheric and pretty much the cat’s meow all around.
You could argue that Factory Girl is a two-character drama with Guy Pearce costarring as Andy Warhol, but my recollection is that Miller’s Sedgwick was much more substantial. Factory Girl was her story, her arc — Sedgwick was the one who experienced all the hurt.
I was seriously taken with Miller’s acting, and in fact interviewed her one January afternoon at the Chateau Marmont, focusing on what I regarded as a breakthrough performance. Miller was only 25 at the time.
Here’s an HE piece (posted on 6.19.07) about the three versions of the film, and about the final version being released on DVD.
Excerpt: “The saga of George Hickenlooper‘s Factory Girl will be reshuffled once again with a third version set for release on July 17th. The cliche would be to call the film’s arduous shape-shifting ‘a long strange trip’ but it really has been that.” The film had basically been through the Harvey Weinstein meat-grinder process.
“I was lucky enough to see the first version — ’60s Andy Warhol-ish, instinctual, somewhat raw and downtownish — last summer, and I raved about it soon after, and particularly about Sienna Miller‘s tragically fluttery performance as Sedgwick.”
You can stream an HD version of Factory Girl on Amazon.
Here’s one of the shots I took of Miller when we did our January 07 interview at the Chateau Marmont:
Filed on 1.28.19: Like Scott Burns‘ The Report, Gavin Hood‘s Official Secrets (IFC Films, 8.23) is a fact-based whistleblower drama about exposing shifty, lying behavior on the part of the Bush-Cheney administration in the selling and prosecution of the Iraq War.
The Report is about Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) investigating, authoring and releasing a massive report on CIA torture; Official Secrets is about real-life translator and British intelligence employee Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) revealing a U.S. plan to bug United Nations “swing”countries in order to pressure them into voting in favor of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which of course was founded upon a fiction that Saddam Hussein‘s Iraqi government was in possession of WMDs and represented a terrorist threat.
The difference is that while The Report is plodding, sanctimonious and a chore to sit through, Official Secrets is an ace-level piece about pressure, courage and hard political elbows — a grade-A, non-manipulative procedural that tells Gun’s story in brisk, straightforward fashion, and which recalls the efficient, brass-tack narratives of All The President’s Men or Michael Clayton.
Official Secrets is exactly the sort of fact-based government & politics drama that I adore, just as The Report is precisely the kind of self-righteous, moral-breast-beating drama that I can’t stand.
The performances by Knightley, Matt Smith (as Observer reporter Martin Bright), Matthew Goode (as journalist Peter Beaumont), Rhys Ifans as Ed Vulliamy, Adam Bakri as Yasar Gun, and
Ralph Fiennes as British attorney Ben Emmerson are excellent fits — as good as any fan of this kind of thing could possibly hope for.
Hood’s Eye in the Sky was one of the finest and most gripping films of 2015, and here he is again with another winner. Hats off to a good guy.
Michael Musto is reporting that the relentless Sylvia Miles — flamboyant New York personality and club-crawler first, spunky pitbull actress second — has passed at age 94. Condolences to friends, family, fans & all surviving 20th Century Manhattan vampires.
Acting-wise Miles peaked a half-century ago when she won a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing “Cass” in John Schlesinger‘s Midnight Cowboy (’69); she was nominated for the same trophy six years later for a performance in Farewell, My Lovely (’75). Post-Cowboy the Miles performance that seemed to register the strongest was “Sally Todd,” a kind of Norma Desmond-like figure, in Paul Morrissey‘s Heat (’72). Joe Dallessandro played “Joe”, the studly William Holden-ish hustler in a speedo.
She also played “Doris the realtor” twice for Oliver Stone, initially in Wall Street (’87) and then Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (’10).
Miles was a permanent Manhattan nightlife fixture from the mid ’60s until…what, the early aughts? For decades she hobknobbed and kibbitzed with every New Yorker who mattered (and a lot who didn’t). In her ’70s and ’80s heyday the legend was that Miles and Andy Warhol “would attend the opening of an envelope.” I ran into her two or three times in the late ’70s and ’80s, and what of it? She never paused, never stopped.
The first tenet of presidential candidate Marianne Williamson‘s economic plan is IMMEDIATE CASH RELIEF WITH A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME, to wit: “The federal government [would] pay $1,000/month Universal Basic Income to all American adults aged 18-65. This will provide immediate cash relief to those who need it. It will give people a small but reliable stream of income. It will create a floor so no American needs to be hungry. It will also provide a big stimulus to the economy as people spend this money on food, clothes and other essentials. This Universal Basic Income will cover all adults until they reach the age for Social Security.”
On the face of it this sounds like a half-decent deal. It would definitely pump vigor into the economy and give people a floor of some kind. Andrew Yang is another big UBI proponent. So how would this break down?
One estimate says that the U.S population between ages 15 and 64 is 206,211,663. Let’s say Yang and Williamson would decide to fork over a $1K per month check to 205 million citizens. (Although the figure would be lower.) The one-month tab for this expenditure would come to $205 billion. Multiply this by twelve and you’re talking an annual expenditure of $2,460,000,000,000, or two trillion, four hundred sixty billion.
The total spending for the U.S. budget for 2018 was nearly $4.1 trillion. The total GDP (gross domestic product) for 2018 was $20.237 trillion.
Four and 1/3 years ago Criterion released a digitally restored Bluray (1080p but sourced from a 4K scan) of Nicolas Roeg‘s Don’t Look Now. It was approved by the late director Nicolas Roeg (who died last November) and featured an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. By the digital standards of 2015, it was the finest, richest rendering of this spooky classic ever seen.
But it’s not good enough any more! Because on 7.29 Studio Canal will issue a brand new 4K restoration of Roeg’s film on an actual 4K UHD disc. It’ll be part of a 4-disc Collector’s Edition with both a UHD and Bluray version, plus a Bluray bonus disc with brand-new extras “and the original haunting Pino Donnagio CD soundtrack.”
Boilerplate: StudioCanal tecchies “went back to the original camera negative which was scanned at 4K resolution in 16bit and created the following: 4K DCP, UHD version and a new HD version which were produced with the same high technological standards as today’s biggest international film releases. The restoration and new UHD version was colour-graded and approved in London by the BAFTA Award-winning cinematographer, Anthony B Richmond.”
Vanity Fair‘s Mike Hogan and NPR critic Ann Powers understand, but Globe and Mail critic Barry Hertz isn’t quite sure. After mentioning Stone, he writes that she “maybe, or maybe not, was spotted by Dylan early during the tour, and asked to join to do…well, it’s never quite clear.”
After posting an initial review that showed he’d been hoodwinked, Indiewire‘s David Ehrlich (along with Chris O’Falt and Zack Sharf) has co-authored a piece that discusses the Stone con. The article is titled “Debunking the Four Big Lies at the Heart of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’.”
In his review, Vulture‘s Craig Jenkins writes that “some of this shit never happened, and it’s tricky to tell what’s what.” He notes that Martin von Haselberg and Michael Murphy are fakers but he doesn’t mention Stone, thereby indicating he probably thought her quotes were legit.
Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw, who rarely misses a trick, doesn’t seem to get it either:
The gist of Michelle Pfeiffer‘s complaint is that while bathing in a flush hotel suite she accidentally washed her hair with laundry detergent and used a face-cleanser as a cream rinse. It’s ironic that she’s wearing glasses in this video since the absence of same is the nub of it. The problem is that unless over-45 types take a shower with their glasses on or contact lenses inserted, they can’t read the labels on those stupid little plastic bottles in the shower. It’s that simple. Solution: A braille system — shampoo bottles need to be square, conditioners need to be oval and so on.
Michelle Pfeiffer's Instagram videos remind me of those Jeff Wells posts where he goes "As we all know…" and then says something that absolutely no one on the planet is thinking. pic.twitter.com/dd8ScBJuib
— Jesse Crall (@jessecrall) June 12, 2019
[Around 7:10 mark] “Far-left political correctness is a cancer on progressivism. When you talk to Trump supporters, they are not blind to his myriad flaws, but one thing they always say is ‘[at least] he’s not politically correct.’ I don’t think you can overestimate how much people have been choking on political correctness and hating it. There were two recent studies about this recently, in a N.Y. Times front-page story and in The Atlantic about a year ago. The vast majority of liberals in this country hate it…they think political correctness has gone way too far…no one likes to be living on eggshells.”
Sometime in his mid teens Anton Yelchin was told he had cystic fibrosis, a lung disease that ensured he wouldn’t live past his early 40s and perhaps not even his late 30s. Yelchin understandably hid this information from everyone, but what a thing to live with…good God.
“Few of his costars were aware of his struggles, though dozens of them show up here to sing his praises. Kristen Stewart describes how he ‘kinda broke my heart’ when the two were teenagers. Simon Pegg warmly labels him ‘a little dirt bird’ for his nocturnal photo shoots at Van Nuys sex clubs. And Willem Dafoe recalls commiserating with Yelchin over his anxieties about losing his hair, which, in a profession that strives to project eternal youth, was more than a matter of simple vanity.” [HE interjection: Two or three trips to Prague — problem solved.]
“Directed by Garret Price, Love, Antosha [paints] a touching and surprising portrait of an actor who had much more going on in his life than was mentioned in his obituaries. The Yelchin we see here was a devoted son, an almost fanatically committed actor (he amassed a remarkable 69 acting credits), a blues guitarist, a photographer of lurid fetish clubs, and an intellectually adventurous budding artist who could well have added several more entries to that resume.” — from Andrew Barker’s 9.29.19 Variety review.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »