Jordan Ruimy’s latest critic and filmmaker poll focuses on the best of the aughts. The top ten are (1) Mulholland Drive (David Lynch), (2) There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson), (3) Zodiac (David Fincher), (4) In the Mood For Love (Wong Kar-Wai), (5) No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen), (6) Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron), (7) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry), (8) Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki), (9) Yi Yi: A One and A Two (Edward Yang) and (10) Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
HE’s Best of the First Decade (’00 to ’09 — 44 in all): Zodiac, Memento, Traffic, Amores perros, United 93, Children of Men, Adaptation, City of God, The Pianist, The Lives of Others, Brokeback Mountain, Sexy Beast, Avatar, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Almost Famous (the “Untitled” DVD director’s cut), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Collateral, Dancer in the Dark, A Serious Man, Girlfight, The Departed, Babel, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Ghost World, In the Bedroom, Talk to Her, Bloody Sunday, No Country For Old Men, The Quiet American, Whale Rider, Road to Perdition, Open Range, Touching the Void, Maria Full of Grace, Up In The Air, The Hurt Locker, Million Dollar Baby, The Motorcycle Diaries, An Education, Man on Wire, Revolutionary Road, Che and Volver. (44)
All the best directors are nervy. If you don’t take risks, you can’t be great, and hedging your bets is what mediocrity is all about. Spike Lee rolled the dice in this scene from Summer of Sam, and the all-media crowd I saw it with was all but rolling in the aisles.
It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but I would have chucked the dialogue and implied that some kind of demonic vibration was coming from the black labrador. Using CG to turn his eyes yellow or something in that realm.
I never knew, by the way, that the dog’s voice belongs to John Turturro.
I wasn’t especially interested in seeing Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan‘s Hollywood miniseries (Netflix, currently streaming) as it sounded, to go by reviews, like another exercise in woke historical revisionism.
The series reimagines late ’40s and ’50s Hollywood by eliminating musty taboos and prejudices that were in force 60 or 70 years ago. Hollywood on the planet Tralfamadore. Powerful women players (directors, agents, casting directors), gay guys and people of color occupying significant slots in the power structure plus a Scotty Bowers-like gas station offering sexual services.
Recreating and re-inventing America’s ethnic and sexual history has been in fashion since Hamilton, I reasoned, or over the last five years. Hardly a radical or even interesting idea today. Or so I thought.
Last night I finally watched the first two episodes, and guess what? Hollywood is engrossing, well-written, briskly paced, not predictable and most of the actors get it right. (I was particularly taken with David Corenswet, the lead character.) The wokester fantasyland thing, it turns out, is dramatically liberating. Or it felt that way to me. I intend to watch the remaining five episodes.
The actor playing Rock Hudson, Jake Picking, still isn’t right. (Murphy couldn’t find a so-so actor who at least half-resembles young Hudson?) But the guy playing agent Henry Willson, Jim Parsons, is exactly right in every department. Samara Weaving as extra-ambitious actress Claire Wood has a special blonde spitfire thing going on. This is partly because she’s actually attractive in a 20th Century sense, which is somewhat unusual in this day and age.
In a sense Biden was sharing a confident jest about African American identity, as in “c’mon, seriously?” He was also saying with absolute sincerity, “People of color who are on the fence about whether or not to vote for Donald Trump are perhaps a tad whiter than me, not to mention a couple of cards short of a full deck.”
Blackness, he meant, is about more than a matter of skin shade or tribal identity. It’s about absolute gut recognition of The Beast. It means “never ever Trump” because you’re an idiot if you think that America’s Oval Office sociopath is driven by anything deeper than his own narcissistic self-regard.
In a general sense it means knowing in your bones the difference between (a) your real deep-down friends and allies and (b) the posturing phonies who are only interested in using your friendship or political support in order to benefit themselves.
Oh, wait, I forgot…lefties are just as racist as the worst tobacco-chewin’ storefront crackers. Right, Jordan Peele and Bob Strauss? Trumpies, at least, are honest about their racism — you know where they stand — while good liberals hide behind their gates. Or something like that.
Some people are so far down their own rabbit hole that there’s no reaching them.
Among WWII action films of the ’50s and ’60s, Dimitri Tiomkin‘s theme for The Guns of Navarone (’61) is one of the great rousing anthems. But there’s a specific version that accompanies the main-title sequence that’s different from any other (and there are several hokey versions on YouTube). The main difference comes with the very ending of the suite, in which four notes from the primary theme — c-d-e-c — descend in volume and settle into slumber. Budda-BAH-duh, budda-BAH-duh, budda-BAH-duh…
(Apologies for the lopsided iPhone capture.)
Posted this morning by N.Y. Times reporters Lisa Lerer, Jim Rutenberg and Stephanie Saul: “The lawyer for Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of sexual assault, said Friday that he was no longer representing her, just two weeks after taking her on as a client. The lawyer, Douglas H. Wigdor, has been a leading plaintiff’s attorney of the #MeToo era. His firm is best known for bringing discrimination cases against Fox News — and its former star host Bill O’Reilly — and Harvey Weinstein, and his presence at Ms. Reade’s side gave her claims added legal heft. His announced departure came a day after defense lawyers in California said they were reviewing criminal cases in which Ms. Reade served as an expert witness on domestic violence, concerned that she had misrepresented her educational credentials in court.”
Bill Maher has been sharing one of his chief Donald Trump concerns for about two years now, which is that if he loses the ’20 election he won’t accept it and will call the results “fake” and whatnot. Perhaps he’ll even call for armed bumblefuck insurrection. The election is five and a half months away. Yes, 40% of this poisoned country would actually vote to give this sociopathic gangster another four years in office, even with the delusions and denials and deaths of tens of thousands due to his malignancy.
This chat between author and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and CNN’s Anderson Cooper is nearly a month old (4.25). Discovered it this morning.
Boilerplate: “Peters appeared frequently as an analyst on Fox News until March 2018 when he resigned, calling the network a ‘propaganda machine‘ for the Trump administration and accused the network of ‘wittingly harming our system of government for profit.’ On Anderson Cooper 360°, Peters likened Trump’s behavior to sedition.”