On the 16th anniversary of the passing of Marlon Brando, here’s a riff that I posted on 2.25.05: “You never cared about this stuff, and you really couldn’t care less from wherever you might be now, but I’m profoundly pissed that the Oscar show producers (Gil Cates and Lou Horvitz) didn’t give you a special tribute reel of your own last night.
“Pissed and ashamed and a little bit disgusted, to be honest.
“There’s no question you were the most influential actor of the 20th Century. No one had the same impact-grenade effect…nobody. You’ve been among the deity of reigning pop icons for as long as I can remember (along with Humphrey Bogart, Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, et. al.), and you’ll still be there 50 years from now. You rewrote the damn book.
Marlon Brando / 1924-2004
“But you were a bad (indifferent?) politician and a bit of a self-loather, and you let your unresolved, screwed-up stuff define too much of your life and image over the last 40-plus years.
“On the other hand Johnny Carson, whose departure happened just recently, was better liked by the industry and public, and he was a sublime Oscar host all those years. And so the Oscar guys decided to pay a special extended tribute to Carson and not you. They took, in short, the politically easy road and revealed their personal colors, not to mention the industry’s basic value system.
“Cates and Horvitz lumped the great Marlon Brando in with all the other dear and departed during last night’s ‘In Memoriam’ tribute…all right, they gave you the last slot at the end of the montage and used four stills instead of one or two…but it was still like someone saying matter-of-factly, minus any sense of sufficient sadness or reverence, that Marlon Brando is merely dead.
“The Brando tribute reel that Cates and Horvitz didn’t show (and probably never even cut together) should have proclaimed — trumpeted — that Marlon Brando lived. He lived and screamed and wept and re-ordered the universe as people knew it in 1947 in New York City, and then rocked Hollywood in the early to mid ’50s, and left them both in a state of permanent shakedown and reexamination by the time of his effective departure from creative myth-making in 1954 or ’55….and then shook things up again when he briefly re-emerged as The Man in the early ’70s (The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris).
“And all the Academy could muster was a more-or-less rote acknowledgement that you left the room in 7.1.04. Sorry, Bud, but you knew a long time ago what this town is basically about.”
Jon Stewart‘s Irresistible opened last Friday. On 6.23 I gave it a pass on the basis of it being lightly amusing and easily digestible. Money passage: “It’s not a bother to watch it. It doesn’t irritate or piss you off. It just does the old soft shoe and wraps things up (credits included) within 102 minutes.”
Presumably a portion of the HE community has had a looksee. Thoughts, disputes, side issues?
Apologies for misspelling Irresistible.
Shia LaBeouf‘s “Creeper”: “I’m supposed to terrorize the herd…that’s my function.”
Okay, but as the cast appears to be largely Latino/Mexican is Shia playing a white guy? Or is Creeper a Mexican character? I’m asking because Shia seems to be speaking with an accent. Are white guys allowed to play brown these days?
Directed, written and produced by David Ayer, The Tax Collector (RLJE, 8.7) is described as an “American” crime thriller. It costars Bobby Soto, Cinthya Carmona, George Lopez.
In The Towering Inferno, Richard Chamberlain‘s sinister son-in-law character died for his sins. He was selfish and cowardly, and so he had to fall 138 stories to his death, screaming all the way down. But disaster films are also expected to serve some cruel sadism, and so a couple of innocents (played by Jennifer Jones and Susan Flannery) also slammed into the pavement. Satisfaction all around.
One of the reasons I disliked Jack Smight‘s Airport ’75 is that none of the passengers (some of whom were played by Gloria Swanson, Helen Reddy, Linda Blair, Sid Ceasar, Myrna Loy, Jerry Stiller, Normal Fell, Nancy Olson and Martha Scott) were killed. They just sat in their seats and grimaced and occasionally screamed.
Airport ’75 is basically about Dana Andrews’ small private plane crashing into the windshield of a commercial 747. Three professional guys die as a result — Andrews, co-pilot Roy Thinnes and attempted replacement pilot Ed Nelson. The latter, tethered to a cord, is lowered from a rescue plane in front of the wounded jet. Unfortunately his harness becomes caught in the jagged material surrounding the hole in the cockpit, and Nelson flies out. I wasn’t satisfied. I didn’t want Nelson to fall 20,000 feet to his death — I wanted Swanson, Reddy, Loy or Stiller to suffer that fate.
In his 1.19.74 N.Y. Times review, Vincent Canby said that Airport ’75 suffers from “a total lack of awareness of how comic it is when it’s attempting to be most serious.”
If I’d been in charge of the script and direction, I would have included MCU footage of the terrified Nelson as he falls to his doom above the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains. (Imagine Martin Balsam‘s close-up as he’s falling backwards down the stairs in Psycho — something in that realm.) Then I would have cut to a young couple enjoying some cross-country skiing near a large frozen lake. They would look up as they hear a strange hissing sound. Behind them we see a blurry, human-shaped missile slam into the ice and disappear. The couple turns. They take off their skis and walk out to the area of impact. They come upon a perfect body-shape hole (arms, legs, head) in the ice.
Too sadistic? Maybe, but be honest — this is the kind of Colisseum-style spectacle that ’70s disaster movies were selling, certainly by implication. I realize that the film was financially successful (cost $3 million, made $50 million worldwide) but it wasn’t bloodthirsty enough.
I’ve had a second look at Rod Lurie‘s The Outpost (Screen Media, 7.3). The version I saw last fall has been tweeked and refined and I wanted to savor the final final, so I watched it on the 65-incher, slouching on the couch.
HE verdict: This fact-based, highly adrenalized Afghanistan war pic not only holds but upticks. The 40-minute battle sequence (which starts around the 75-minute mark) is not only riveting but a work of serious beauty, if that’s the right term. It’s really spellbinding — there’s no looking away from it, and it’s hard to breathe while it lasts. It might even help you lose weight.
Lurie and Jake Tapper’s book aside, special commendation goes to cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore and editor Michael J. Duthie.
Crisp military salutes are hereby offered to the mostly all-male cast but especially to co-leads Scott Eastwood (his snarly, tough-as-nails staff sergeant performance is a breakthrough) and Caleb Landry Jones, who has finally stopped mumbling and planted his feet and told the truth like a man. HE to CLJ: You deserve a Best Supporting Actor nom, bruh, but don’t ever mumble again. I’m serious.
And don’t forget the sound design, especially the zing-zing bullets slamming into terra firma, humvee metal, helmets, bone, flesh.
Unfortunately Gov. Gavin Newsom has closed all indoor California theatres for at least three weeks, so there goes the big-screen immersive effect that a film like this needs. The only large-screen experience this weekend is at the Vineland Drive-In, which is located in the industrial shithole known as the City of Industry.
A U.S. forces-vs.-Taliban war flick based on Tapper’s reporting, The Outpost is a rousing plunge into another tough battle that actually happened, and is another example of the kind of combat flick to which we’ve all become accustomed — one in which the U.S. forces get their asses kicked and barely survive.
Lone Survivor, Hamburger Hill, Black Hawk Down, The Hurt Locker, In The Valley of Elah, Platoon, We Were Soldiers, Pork Chop Hill — American forces go to war for questionable or dubious reasons and the troops engaged get shot and pounded all to hell. Those who barely survive are shattered, exhausted, gutted. War is bad karma.
Lurie isn’t trying for anything more than an expert reality-capturing. He’s done his best to replicate a military tragedy that happened 11 years ago, and in so doing is telling his audience, “Take it or leave it but this is it…this is the truth of what happened.”
Tapper’s same-titled book, published in 2013, is about the ordeal of U.S. troops defending Combat Outpost Keating. Located at the bottom of a steep canyon and absurdly vulnerable to shooters in the surrounding hills, the outpost was attacked by Taliban forces on 10.3.09.