A forthcoming Kamala Harris endorsement of Typewriter Joe strongly indicates he’ll pick the California Senator to be his vp running mate. Which makes sense for Joe, and would obviously position Kamala to run for president at the end of Biden’s first and last term, in 2024.
Producer pally to HE: “We all know that Sundance has changed. The exciting, culture-defining current and buoyancy are long gone. I used to enjoy Sundance despite its rigors. But that was another time.
“Attacking Sundance in your column for the umpteenth time not only isn’t going to make any big difference, and at some point what it will do is finally exhaust your readers so much that they will turn away, stop reading, and leave.
“You’ve made your point. Now stop. Just cover what you think is relevant and stop attacking the festival. Remember that no matter what the festival may represent today” — i.e., the spirit of HUAC of the late ’40s and early ’50s, except persecuting white guys instead of commies — “there are filmmakers there who have worked for years and given up much to fulfill their dream of getting their film made and seen there, and they should at least should be appreciated.”
“Conversations with buyers and sellers point to a lack of obvious star power in the slate of pictures available for acquisition. It could well be a quiet market, meaning that the sums could be modest with dealmaking for most films lingering beyond the festival.”
Translation: Who wants to pay serious money for feminist slash POC slash LGBTQ wokester films that will stream and quicken no pulses and then vaporize?
Distribution chief quoted by Fleming: “All of us used to come to Sundance making bids that were based on estimates of what a movie might gross, and how much money it would cost to market it, and wins and losses were determined by subtracting purchase price. Now, it’s impossible to grade these films that are acquired by the streamers, because box-office is about the least important metric. It has become very difficult to compete when one of them really wants a film.”
According to Jill Chamberlain, author of “The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting“, Casablanca could have been a slightly better film if Humphrey Bogart‘s Richard Blaine had been more emotionally demonstrative.
Blaine, she says, is a little too taciturn and reserved, and that “a lot of modern audiences, particularly younger people, don’t even get what happened. Younger people don’t get it because he has such a tough outer shell.”
[Partial paraphrasing]: “Jimmy Stewart would have let us see the hurt. We need to feel [Blaine’s] inner struggle…he doesn’t articulate that, the dilemma he has, the weight of the world’s fate on his shoulders…we don’t see what’s going on behind the mask…we have to read between the lines quite a bit. Bogart won’t let us feel his pain.”
Earth to Chamberlain: It’s precisely because Blaine’s true feelings are buried under a crusty and cynical shell that the character is so memorable. The whole film would collapse if Blaine were to weep and quake with pain a la George Bailey on the snow-covered bridge in It’s A Wonderful Life.
Does Chamberlain believe that the finale of Only Angels Have Wings would have been more satisfying if Cary Grant‘s character had unloaded emotionally like Tom Cruise does at the end of Jerry Maguire? I wonder.
Posted on 8.5.18: I was sitting at a train station this morning (10:40ish) when all of a sudden I heard whistling coming from the parking lot. I don’t like whistlers any more than I like groups of women in bars who shriek and giggle after their second glass of wine, and so my first reaction was one of mild irritation. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. Then I heard it again. And then I saw him — an older guy in shorts, T-shirt, socks and tennis sneakers, slightly bent over as he shuffled along.
It would be one thing if he was whistling “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” or “Beautiful Dreamer” or the Full Metal Jacket “Mickey Mouse Club” tune or even “Whistle While You Work,’ but no recognizable tune could be discerned.
What he was doing, in fact, was idiot-whistling — just hitting random notes and scales and feeling peppy for the hell of it. I scowled and seethed, not at the guy but at life and happenstance. There was nothing to be done or said. I for one have never whistled in mixed company. I might whistle if I was walking all alone at night in the middle of the Sonoran desert or along the beach in New Jersey or if I was in downtown Baghdad and looking to brush off a feeling of fear, but never at a suburban train station. I know I sound like a miserable misanthrope, but all he had to do was whistle a melody I could follow. And he refused.
What did Lizzo‘s character in Hustlers do again? More peripheral than second-billed. Are plus-size strippers an actual real-life thing? I haven’t been to a strip club since visiting Crazy Girls (1433 No. La Brea Ave.) in ’93 for some Entertainment Weekly reporting about Keifer Sutherland. Otherwise whatever. Beach-ball pride vs. Jillian Michaels. “These are days you’ll remember / Never before and never since / I promise.”
Veteran journalist, PBS News Hour host and Presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer, who reported and commented about everything for five decades-plus, has passed at age 85. Regrets, respect, condolences. No one’s idea of a snappy personality or edgy provocateur, but a reliable professional and a dispenser of a kind of comfort…a feeling of moderation and reasonableness.
Brad Pitt coronation night at the Santa Barbara Film Festival…a real movie star comes to town, and the waters part. Oh, to touch the hem of the robe! To be close, to witness, to savor the aroma! The Gilbert & Sullivan ring of it all…the Major Miraculous Magnificent Maltin Modern Master Award! Every last Arlington seat filled. The longest lines, the loudest cheers and squeals.
Brad was loose, casual, obliging…a modest and self-effacing Lancelot. Interviewer Leonard Maltin didn’t elicit a single opinion from the 56 year-old actor, producer and Oscar nominee. The questions were mostly trite, fawning and obsequious (“How was working with so-and-so? How did you find your character? Did you attend the Oscar ceremony that year? How did you get to be such a wonderful movie star?”). And Pitt played along at every turn.
Pitt said he “made a few enemies” during the making of Moneyball — Steven Soderbergh and who else? He really admires Robert Redford‘s subtle acting, and recalled that during the making of A River Runs Through It Redford told him to “never exhale” when the cameras are rolling “because you’re letting all the energy out…you’re letting it escape.”
Interviewer-author Leonard Matlin, Brad Pitt at finale of last night’s event.
HE declaration: I’ll aways be in awe of Pitt’s wonderfully layered Billy Bean performance. Relaxed and anxious at the same time, and also mysterious on a certain level. He’ll probably never top it. Second favorite all-time performance: The couch stoner in True Romance.
Pitt said he turned down the Neo role in The Matrix — “I took the red pill.” (Was that before or after Will Smith passed on it?) His verbally indecipherable Irishman in Snatch was deliberate as far as director Guy Ritchie was concerned — audiences not being able to understand most of what he said was part of the deal.
HE questions if I’d been in Maltin’s seat: (a) Do you agree that Hollywood actors have to lead the fight against the wearing of “whitesides” and gold-toe socks, or are you non-committal on that front?; (b) Whom do you like among the Democrats running right now, and why? (c) What are the most interesting attitudinal differences between your generation and that of your kids?; (d) What are the three performances you’re proudest of? (e) Which performance, if any, would you like people to forget about, or at least put into a sealed box?; (f) What’s changed since you embraced sobriety, and what’s your craziest drinking-days story?; (g) Do you still get ripped or have you left that behind also?; (h) You’ve met or worked with just about everyone in the industry — who in your judgment is the most under-appreciated or the least understood?; (i) Have you ever sampled any of Harrison Ford‘s cooking? (j) What is your favorite exotic getaway spot, and why?; (k) What kind of motorcycle do you own, and do you have a problem with the term “rumblehog” when it comes to describing large European-style scooters with leather saddlebags and carrying cases?; (l) What are your favorite comfort-blanket movies?; (m) Two or three of your favorite albums or recording artists?; (n) You’ve said you value the idea of speaking dialogue in a clear and easily understood way — what’s your opinion of actresses who lean on vocal fry, uptalk and sexy baby voices?
If I were in Park City now, I would be paying attention to Dee Rees‘ The Last Thing He Wanted (Netflix, 2.21). I’m presuming it isn’t a homer and probably not a triple, but a ground-rule double would be nice. I’m moderately encouraged by the Joan Didion source novel, the ’80s Contra conspiracy plot weave, the conflicted daughter-father relationship, and the reliable-sounding cast — Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Ben Affleck, Rosie Perez, etc.