I want to say this plainly but carefully: I did not feel profound sadness when I read of Rush Limbaugh’s condition. His strident-rightie rhetoric did a lot to inflame Bumblefuck Nation and rupture the fabric of civility in this country and fortify the toxicity that fuels the culture-war fires to this day. In the eyes of many millions Limbaugh is a flat-out villain. Anyone on my side of the battlefield (i.e., with a liberal or progressive attitude or philosophy) who says he/she feels badly about Limbaugh’s misfortune is just “saying that”, trust me.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg and Scott Johnson have co-authored a 2.3 article titled “Catherine Burns: The Vanishing of an Oscar-Nominated Actress.” It tries to paint a hard-luck portrait of a gifted actress whom Hollywood had given the backhand to, and who hated playing the Hollywood game, and who led a subdued and shrouded life over her last three or four decades.
The 23-year-old Burns delivered an Oscar-nominated supporting performance in Frank Perry‘s Last Summer (’69), but she was never that lucky again. Burns made two more films in the immediate wake (Me, Natalie, Red Sky at Morning) and did some theatre and a lot of television over the next…oh, 15 years or so. She had dabbled in writing and allegedly focused on that entirely in the ’80s. Then she fell off the map.
A longtime Manhattanite, Burns married a non-industry dude named Kenneth Shire in 1989. Sometime in the aughts she and Shire moved into a retirement community in Lynden, Washington. The THR piece discovers that the 73-year-old Burns passed almost exactly a year ago and that cirrhosis (i.e., a drinking problem) was a “contributing factor” in her demise.
When contacted by the Seattle-based Johnson, Shire doesn’t mention her passing. He also lets go with some anti-Hollywood rancor. “She hated [Last Summer] and most everything that came with it,” Shire says. “She wanted to be remembered as a published writer of novels. My wife has been out of the business for decades. She is not old news. She is ancient news. We are in our eighth decade. We left that rotten business a long time ago. It’s time for some peace. Maybe someone else wants this kind of reminder of who they once were, but we do not.”
HE to Feinberg, Johnson: My impression was that the piece tried to inject a certain melancholy or sadness that may not have been warranted by the facts. It tried to make it sound as if Burns wanted to deepen or expand her career but Hollywood and to a lesser extent Broadway said no. In their usual callous way, Hollywood types didn’t think she had the right look.
Many are called, few are chosen. Talented as she was, Cathy Burns was one of the called.
Just because Burns delivered a special moment in Frank Perry‘s Last Summer as well as some noteworthy stage and TV-series performances…that doesn’t mean she had what it took to keep going and going as an actress, She apparently didn’t have that engine, that hunger, that gotta-gotta. We all know that these qualities are as important as talent.
A certain Hollywood columnist was dismissive of her looks, the article reports, and that obviously amounted to a kind of cruelty.
Burns’ looks were okay. She was small and mousey, but it takes all sorts to make a world. If you ask me she looked like a slightly less attractive version of Liza Minnelli‘s “Pookie” in The Sterile Cuckoo, and perhaps with a side order of Susan Oakes‘ “Anybodys” in West Side Story.
The main thing is that she didn’t have that X-factor dynamism that all successful actors seem to have. She had a certain recessiveness and a face that said “whatever” and “maybe you could leave me alone”. She was was hugely turned off by the day-to-day reality of being famous and recognized on the street or whatever.
I have a 1 pm appointment for a quickie procedure at a Beverly Hills dermatologist’s office. They’ll be removing a small basal-cell cancer thing on my chest. No biggie but I’ll be out of commission for two or three hours.
Update: My appointment was cancelled because I arrived at the clinic 15 minutes late. I’ve been re-scheduled for a 1.45 pm tomorrow afternoon.
The real-life echoes in Ben Affleck‘s basketball-coach character in Finding The Way Back (Warner Bros., 3.6) are obvious. Affleck has been famously struggling with alcohol issues for years, and so (in the realm of the film) is “Jack Cunningham”, a former basketball star who bends the elbow. The film is obviously self-portraiture to a certain extent.
Director Gavin O’Connor knows how to do sports redemption dramas. I still say Miracle (’04) is his best.
I saw this trailer at the Grove last weekend, and my first reaction (above and beyond the Affleck thing) was that it could be described as Hoosiers but with Dennis Hopper‘s rummy character taking the place of Gene Hackman‘s.
Why call this Finding The Way Back when (a) Nat Faxon and Jim Rash‘s The Way Way Back opened only seven years ago and (b) Peter Weir‘s The Way Back opened ten years ago? Why follow in that path? I can’t think of a decent alternative. All that comes to mind is Fat Bearded Boozer. Don’t laugh — people would pay to see a film with that title.
Who’s the large-framed, bald-headed, barrel-chested, red-sweater-wearing guy sitting between Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino? He looks a bit like Domenick Lombardozzi, who played Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno in the film.
Blessing your Monday with this footage of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci at the very first table read of THE IRISHMAN with Scorsese back in 2013. pic.twitter.com/VsyMvXgG6u
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) February 3, 2020
Yesterday I spoke to three Academy members (two directors, one actor) about which Oscar nominees they were thinking of voting for. None of them had submitted their ballot. Two said they’d probably be waiting until the very last minute. They know what they admire or were most moved by, but they also know who’s probably going to win.
They also want to spread the love around so they’re involved in some emotional horse-trading. (“I know Bong Joon-ho probably can’t win Best Picture or Best Director but he has to win Original Screenplay,” etc.)
They basically regard the nominees as an embarassment of riches and don’t want to be lazy or cavalier in their selections.
[Click through to full story on HE-plus]
“Though it’s not especially good as a piece of formal filmmaking through its first three hours, McMillion$ tells a quirky and frequently hilarious tale filled with enough twists and turns that you’ll swear it came from the keyboard of a Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard.
“The story told here focuses primarily on the Jacksonville office of the FBI, described as a ‘Sleepy Hollow retirement office,’ accustomed to sniffing out cases involving health care fraud, bank fraud and other instances of white-collar crime. Our hero is Doug Mathews, a wet-behind-the-ears special agent whose ennui with the office’s standard cases leads him to begin poking into vague insinuations about fraud in the McDonald’s monopoly game.
“I love documentaries to be their own thing and I rarely itch for narrative remakes, but McMillion$ is practically begging for somebody like an Adam McKay — he’s already producing half of HBO’s slate anyway — to do a scripted mini. I think the only person who could possibly play ultra-enthusiastic, easily bored FBI agent Doug Mathews is ultra-enthusiastic, easily bored FBI agent Doug Matthews, though McMillion$ executive producer Mark Wahlberg would probably get an Emmy nomination for the role.” — from Daniel Fienberg‘s 1.28 THR review.
Hollywood Elsewhere is shocked and saddened to hear that Toronto Star film critic and cinematic wise man Peter Howell has taken a buyout and that henceforth “there is literally no entertainment department at the Toronto Star”, according to a Facebook post from Star columnist Rob Salem.
How could the Toronto Star cut loose one of its finest and best known name-brand writers? How could they not at least be interested in continuing to post Howell’s reviews and whatnot on a freelance contributor basis? In my mind Howell IS the Toronto Star.
Here’s hoping/presuming that he’ll continue to file for the Star as an indie contributor or at least for some other prominent publilcaton, and that he’ll be making the trek to Cannes in May and so forth.
Yesterday World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy posted 21 titles that may premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. From my limited perspective and/or knowledge base, we’re talking five hotties, 16 iffies and one enticing big-budget possibility that HE is suggesting and in fact pushing for — Chris Nolan‘s Tenet (Warner Bros,. 7.17. — John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh).
The five are (a) Leos Carax‘s Annette, an English-language musical about a stand-up comic (Adam Driver) and his musician wife (Marion Cotillard), and what happens when their daughter Annette is discovered to have a unique gift; (b) Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch (Searchlight, 7.4.20 — 20th Century period comedy about journalism in a French city w/ Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson); (c) Paul Verhoeven‘s Benedetta (17th century lesbian nun drama, based on Judith C. Brown‘s “Immodest Acts — The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy”); (d) Sofia Coppola‘s On The Rocks (A24/Apple — a young mother (Rashida Jones) reconnects with her playboy father (Bill Murray) on an adventure through New York; and (e) Mia Hansen Love‘s Bergman Island w/ Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth.
The others are Apichatpong Weerasethakul’sMemoria; Nadav Lapid‘s Untitled, Nanni Moretti‘s Tre Piani, Laurent Cantet’s Arthur Rambo, Kornel Mundruczó’s Pieces of a Woman, Ana Lily Amirpour’s Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, Bruno Dumont’s On A Half Clear Morning, an untitled film from Hong Sang-soo, Abderrahmane Sissako’s The Perfumed Hill, Kirill Serebrennikov’s Petrov’s Flu, Abdelatif Kechiche‘s Mektoub: Canto Duo, Ildiko Enyedi‘s The Story of My Wife, Ulrich Seidl Bose Spiele, Maiwenn‘s ADN and Michaelangelo Frammartino‘s Il Buco.
Any other films that would make a good fit?
A few hours ago the BAFTA film awards reminded everyone (as if we needed reminding) that 1917 is going to win the Best Picture Oscar on 2.9.20. And that Sam Mendes will win for Best Director, and that Parasite will win the Best International Feature Oscar, and that the same four winners in the acting categories — Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Laura Dern and Brad Pitt — will win again at the Oscars. And that Parasite will win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and that Jojo Rabbit will win for Best Adapted Screenplay, or for changing Christine Leunens‘ somber-minded “Caging Skies” into a dry-snark comedy and thereby making guys like David Poland and Jeff Sneider split a gut. Greta Gerwig‘s “stand up against the male patriarchy” roadshow is over and that’s that. The fix is in, the winners have been decided, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
With the Iowa caucauses happening tomorrow night, the likelihood is that Pete Buttigieg will emerge as a third-place shower, just behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. (And almost certainly ahead of Elizabeth Warren.) Buttigieg was looking like a winner in these two states during early to mid November. Then he became a political pinata, and all the attacks seemed to coalesce or reach some kind of critical mass by late November and early December, and his numbers began to drop.
Three days ago the Washington Post posted a 20-question multiple-choice reader quiz about the major political issues of the day. Once you’ve answered them, the Post shows you which Democratic candidates you agree with the most (or vice versa). I took the test yesterday (it takes five or six minutes) and guess who I agree with the most? Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer.
All things considered, Buttigieg is a good guy. Liberal, reasonable, sanely progressive, super-brilliant — a perfect temperamental and generational counterweight to The Beast. Plus he’s sensible and modest and offers respect for others. The improvement in the cultural character of this country would be close to glorious if this modest, midwestern Christian were to beat Trump, and given the fact that Pete is mature and practical and respectful of Bumblefucks and definitely not in league with the hated Khmer Rouge wokesters, he would certainly defeat Trump. Maybe not by the same margin that Biden would command, but he’d win.
But the uglies (the general progressive purist crowd, Bernie bruhs plus the pro-Bernie under-30s, progressive Black Twitter and Gay Twitter) have been attacking Pete so savagely over the last couple of months that he’s probably not going to make it. And African-American voters have been staunchly skeptical and/or flat-out against Buttigieg since forever.
As a single, solitary West Hollywood voice I was just want to take this opportunity say thanks to all of you, and to tell you from the bottom of my heart how much I loathe and despise all the Pete attackers for sticking us with Bernie vs. Biden. Neither of these geezers is the breath-of-fresh-air rockstar that the Democrats need. And yet here we are. Thanks, assholes!
Steyer doesn’t have a prayer of winning Iowa and New Hampshire, but it wasn’t so long ago that Buttigieg did. I haven’t felt this much hate for purist hard-case lefties since Zero Dark Thirty was campaigned against in the Best Picture race of 2012 and ’13.
Do yourselves a favor and see where you really, actually stand with the various Democratic candidates.
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