I was in the checkout line at Ralph’s on Carillo. A giggly party girl and her friends were buying four huge bottles of something alcoholic. Either the booze was pale yellow or the bottles were tinted that way. Didn’t see a label or sticker.[Click through to full story on HE-plus]
When it comes to rumblehog journeys, I prefer tidy two-lane blacktops. Winding my way through traffic along the major boulevards is almost kind of fun (and I certainly love being able to get places faster than anyone else) but I’m not a fan of freeway driving, especially when the trip requires two-plus hours of sustained concentration. There are too many careless, impulsive lunatics out there, and a lot of them are texting.
This is nonetheless my plan for getting up to Santa Barbara this afternoon. I guess I’ll just hug the right lane and hope for the best. I’ll be leaving around 1:30 pm. Bundled up. Out of commission until I arrive at the Santa Barbara Inn.
The last time I checked producers, directors and screenwriters were regularly engaging in the alleged theft of ideas. By “theft’ I mean they’ve routinely been influenced by (i.e., impressionistically borrowed from or vaguely ripped off) other films, TV series, plays, etc. Welcome to a business known for a rough-and-tumble approach to creativity.
One of the dominant Hollywood legends is that you can’t make it in this town without strong feral instincts. If you want to succeed, according to this belief, you have to be a wolf. Every so often you need to drive up to Mulholland Drive at midnight, stare at the stars and go “owwwwoooohhhh…whoo-whoo-whooooo!”
This morning Francesca Gregorini, 51 year-old director of 2013’s The Truth About Emanuel, filed a copyright infringement suit on Wednesday against M. Night Shyamalan and Apple, accusing them of “bastardizing her 2013 film and re-envisioning it through a male gaze,” according to a Variety account. The suit refers to Shyalaman’s Servant, although the writer is Tony Basgallop, who ironically is also 51.
I’ve never seen The Truth About Emanuel (has anyone?) but it’s a psychological thriller about a woman who forms a relationship with a doll after the death of her infant child. Shyamalan and Basgallop’s Servant is about a couple raising a doll after suffering the death of a baby.
Lawsuit quote: “If Servant showcases anything, it is the gender arrogance and inequity still infecting Hollywood (and apparently Cupertino). The result of this caricature of the male gaze is the utter bastardization of Ms. Gregorini’s work. It’s an apt metaphor for the real-life version of what could happen here: It takes only a few old guard Hollywood men, such as Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Basgallop, and their new Silicon Valley partner Apple TV+, to negate the considerable achievements and life experiences of the women behind Emanuel, and to irredeemably tarnish their work.”
As noted, copyright infringement and the alleged stealing of original ideas is a common practice and an old beef. Gregorini is using the political jargon of the moment to enhance her case. What else?
On 1.8 Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex) and Prince Harry (Duke of Sussex) announced they would step down as “senior” British royals. Because Meghan had decided she couldn’t handle being called a shameless opportunist and Kardashian wannabe by the British tabloids. Markel quote: “When I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t [do this] because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'”
What did Markle think would happen when she and Harry decided to marry? That the British tabs would respect boundaries? Empty as the whole British Royal charade is, it’s a responsibility that Markle accepted when she agreed to be Mrs. Harry. And now they want to parade around, spend half their time in North America and presumably make money off their fame. Perhaps Meghan may even try to resuscitate her acting career. Megxit reminded me of Sarah Palin‘s decision to quit the Alaska governorship, which was all about salivating over big money.
Over the last couple of days the Oscar-related issues with the strongest current are (a) Jessica Crispin’s 1.13 Guardian piece about the attack of the virtue-signalling Kool-Aid critics, and (b) the reactions to Joker‘s 11 Oscar nominations and the question “why exactly isn’t Todd Phillips‘ film considered a leading Best Picture nominee?”
World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy and I discussed these and other topics yesterday. Here’s the portion that more or less addresses the Guardian thing, and a slightly longer (but still relatively short) excerpt that gets into Joker ramifications.
Ruimy believes that among the Best Picture nominees Joker is in fourth place now, just ahead of The Irishman but behind Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, 1917 and Parasite. HE to Ruimy: Forget Parasite winning anything other than Best International feature.
The cover of Vanity Fair‘s annual Hollywood issue feels…odd. Curious. Because the idea has always been to present a combination of Oscar likelies, up-and-comers and established industry legends enjoying a peak moment. And…what is this exactly? I’ll tell you what it isn’t. It doesn’t feel like the right statement or combination or something. It’s a head-scratcher.
My first thought was “uhh, okay…too bad about the Jennifer Lopez snub.” Second: “Why isn’t Brad Pitt on the cover?” Third: “What about all those stupid Dolemite snubs?”….Eddie Murphy, should-have-been Best Supporting Actress nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, the first-rate screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, etc.
And why isn’t Joaquin Phoenix posing alongside Murphy, Zellweger and JLo? Or Greta “Joan of Arc” Gerwig for that matter?
The basic impression is that VF editors live in their own little world. They certainly haven’t captured the proverbial moment-in-time.
And I’d certainly say so now. Simply put, none of her competitors has the same sense of accumulated heat and coagulation. And no one else has Zellweger’s award-season narrative, which boils down to (a) went away then returned with a seriously risky role (for if she didn’t bring Judy Garland back to life in all senses of that term all bets would be off), (b) still glowing at 50, and (c) cheers for an actress who hasn’t lost her mojo.
Seriously — tell me how she’s going to lose.
I knew in my bones that Zellweger had this after attending the Judy premiere at the Academy four months ago (9.19). Full house, unmistakable emotional reactions, cheers and applause. (And a great after-party.)
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I wrote the next day that for what it was worth “both the film and particularly Zellweger’s performance, all but locked for a Best Actress nomination, sank in a bit deeper. Not just the sadness and humor but the vigor of it. I was studying her more closely, enjoying the flicky facial tics and raised eyebrows and hair-trigger grins all the more. RZ slams a homer!”
There’s never been any question that Zellweger’s performance as the financially strained, worn-at-the-seams Judy Garland had that certain snap-crackle-awe. I felt that in Telluride, and especially the humorous spritzy side. We all know that performances of this type always end up nominated.
I didn’t know or care much about personal problems, alcoholism and pharmaceutical abuse when I was a kid, but Judy Garland was the very first Hollywood star whom I associated with these issues. After seeing The Wizard of Oz at age seven or eight my mother (or was it my grandmother?) mentioned that Garland’s adult life was a mess. I never forgot that.
Garland had ten or twelve good years (mid ’30s to late ’40s) before the downswirl pattern kicked in. Stress, anxiety, pills, self-esteem issues. Garland was between 31 and 32 when she made George Cukor‘s A Star Is Born, supposedly playing a fresh-faced ingenue but occasionally looking like the battle-scarred showbiz veteran that she was. A barbituate overdose killed Garland at age 47, at which point she seemed 60 if a day.
When I spoke to Zellweger four months ago at the annual Telluride brunch, her appearance was anything but Garland-esque. She looked exactly (and very fetchingly) like a somewhat older but entirely vibrant and relaxed version of Dorothy Boyd, the lover and wife of Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. She looked like herself, I mean, and well-tended at that.
Zellweger was 26 or thereabouts when she costarred in that landmark Cameron Crowe film. 24 years have passed, and she still has some kind of serene, settled, casually glowing thing going on. If I didn’t know her and someone told me she was 42 or 43, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.
Best Actress trophies from Golden Globes, Critics Choice, National Board of Review, etc. Not to mention the recently bequeathed Oscar and BAFTA nominations plus the forthcoming Riviera Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, etc. Timing, momentum, the curve of history…arrival.