“Blackbird is a politely made film in search of meaning it’s never able to find.
“We’ve seen a similar version of every element here before: the give-no-fucks terminally ill matriarch who quips rather than mopes, the repressed married sister who clashes with her freewheeling younger gay sibling, the reserved teen who finally comes out of his shell, the lesbian girlfriend whose interests include football and beer and the loyal husband who suffers in silence.
“It’s boringly reheated and writer Christian Torpe, who also wrote the Danish film this is based on, doesn’t have much in his arsenal other than a few lame attempts at gallows humour and so relies heavily on the actors to do the heavy lifting.
“But Kate Winslet is miscast, Susan Sarandon is coasting, Sam Neill is sleepwalking and Mia Wasikowska, an extremely talented yet recently underused actor, is stuck playing the sort of role she should have grown out of by now.
“Also, are we really still associating rebellion with being gay and having a buttoned-up lifestyle with being straight? A far more interesting dynamic would have switched the sisters’ sexuality but that would have required thinking outside of a very small box.
“The most interesting actor on screen is a soulful Lindsay Duncan as Lily’s old friend; a more interesting film would have focused on that pairing above the undercooked family drama that unfolds. It’s never really possible to buy into the characters as a family given how thinly etched their relationships are to one another, and so when the inevitable fireworks arrive, it’s more like someone waving a sparkler in your face.” — from Benjamin Lee’s Guardian review, posted on 9.17.19.
…and allow us to carefully explain the gist of the humor in Mel Brooks‘ Blazing Saddles. Without which some of you might take to Twitter to scream about systemic Hollywood racism, etc. 1974 audiences didn’t need a tutorial, but you do. What does that tell you?
Yesterday it was hot all across the Southwest, Los Angeles included. Hot and somewhat humid. I showered quickly around 5 pm, and despite the air-conditioned living room climate I had to wait and wait for my hair to dry. I needed a drive on the rumblehog. I went downstairs, turned the ignition key, revved the engine. I then decided on the spur that it was too hot to wear headgear. So I took off with my white helmet under the seat….”fuck it.”
With my faintly damp hair getting whipped around as I motored north through quiet, tree-lined streets, it was one of the most glorious sensations I’ve felt in months.
The angel on my right shoulder was saying “okay, you’ve had your fun, now pull over and put the helmet on.” But the devil on my left shoulder said, “No, don’t…this is way too pleasurable, let’s keep going.” Block after block, slowly cruising, my eyes peeled for the bulls. I became braver and braver. I crossed La Cienega and ducked into another side street. I was ecstatic about the wind fluttering through my Prague follicles; the feeling of coolness and the scent of this and that…absolute heaven.
After a while I began to think that getting a ticket might not be so bad. Well, it would but I was so delighted to re-experience a portion of what it was like to be 16.
It used to be okay to ride around without a helmet. California’s mandatory helmet law kicked in on 1.1.92. Warren Beatty rides his Triumph without one in Shampoo.
Until yesterday I never knew that Greta Garbo’s feet were enough of an issue to have warranted mention in a 6.20.93 letter to the editor of The New York Times.
I’m fairly certain that the Will Smith and Kevin Hart remake of Planes, Trains & Automobiles is going to disappoint on this or that level, and may even generally suck eggs across the board.
The 1987 John Hughes original is about the uncomfortable pairing of a sardonic, somewhat snooty advertising executive (Steve Martin) and an overweight, irritatingly folksy shower- curtain-ring salesman (John Candy) on a miserable, zig-zaggy trip from New York to Chicago just prior to Thanksgiving.
A flush, well-dressed sophisticated elitist vs. a fat, amiable, hand-to-mouth vulgarian who smokes.
Smith, I’m presuming, will take the Martin role and Hart will play Candy. Is Hart up to playing a coarse vulgarian? And who will play Dylan Baker?
Favorite Martin Line: “You can start by wiping that fucking dumbass smile off your rosy fucking cheeks. Then you can get me a fucking automobile. A fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick…four fucking wheels and a seat!”
2nd Favorite Martin line: “It didn’t occur to you so I get to sleep in a puddle of beer.”
Variety‘s Dave McNary reports that pic “will be a modern update of the original”, blah blah. Hart’s HartBeat Productions and Smith’s Westbrook Studios are developing the remake, blah blah.
This is what I’ve been talking about. Last night (i.e., Sunday) some rowdies from the Portland BLM brigade, which has persisted night after night with The Street Protests That Peaked Over Two Months Ago and Everyone Is Sick To Death Of, punched and kicked a white guy who may have been driving his pickup truck aggressively near the crowd.
The protestors were probably presuming that the guy was somehow in league with that guy who killed a woman in Charlottesville by backing his musle car into a crowd of protestors.
N.Y. Post account: “A series of clips on social media shows the victim being surrounded in his white Ford truck at 10.30 p.m. Sunday as others attacked a woman he was with, who was punched and even tackled to the ground during the violent melee. The unidentified driver eventually sped off, with the mob chasing him — with some heard loudly laughing when he crashed into a tree and then a building, according to the clips.
“He was dragged from the truck and tackled to the ground as he begged for help, getting repeatedly punched as he tried to call his wife while pleading with his attackers as he sat on the ground.”
BLM supporters need to double-down on this stuff. This is exactly the king of thing that could possibly persuade swing voters to hold their noses and painfully vote for Trump. You can bet Team Trump will be using this footage for a campaign ad. Brilliant, hats off, etc.
Oh, and Joe and Kamala? Don’t say a word. You don’t want to criticize the BLM movement or progressives might not support you. BLM-ers need to keep trashing cities, keep looting, keep beating up crackers in pickup trucks. This is the ticket, the true path…what the Biden-Harris ticket needs more of in order to lose.
Six months ago Rose McGowan did a podcast chat with “Catch and Kill” author Ronan Farrow, and in so doing mentioned a sexual misconduct episode (technically statutory rape) that happened, she said, between her 15-year-old self and an unnamed director who was then in his late 20s.
Last night on Twitter she identified the alleged misconduct guy — director-writer Alexander Payne. If (and I say “if”) this happened, the term “statutory rape” definitely applied. She says Payne showed her a softcore Showtime film he’d directed before they allegedly had sex.
McGowan isn’t calling for Payne’s death and dismemberment, but an acknowledgment and apology. Payne and his reps have been contacted about this. They can agree and apologize, totally deny everything, dispute this or that assertion, etc. But they should quickly respond.
The quizzical part is McGowan’s claim that after their alleged intimate encounter in Payne’s Silver Lake apartment, he dropped her off at Cafe Tropical on Sunset Blvd. The implication (and please dispute if I’m wrong) is that Payne decided not to take the ride-less McGowan where she wanted to go but dropped her off at a cafe near his home because he couldn’t be bothered. That would be ungentlemanly.
McGowan was 15 between September ‘88 and September ‘89. The omnibus sex films that Payne contributed to were produced by the Playboy Channel, and were titled Inside Out (’91 — Paynee’s short is titled My Secret Moments) and Inside Out III (’92). The IMDB page for the latter names ten directors, including Payne and Bernard Rose. Payne apparently landed the gigs when he was 27 or 28 and enrolled at UCLA Film School.
The 29-year-old Payne graduated from UCLA Film School with a Masters degree in May/June 1990.
Here’s a 7.8.90 L.A. Times profile by Patricia Biderman, titled “A Reel Hit: After a screening of his student movie, The Passion of Martin, Alexander Payne was the talk of the town — now the UCLA graduate is learning to direct deals with agents“. The 50-minute thesis film , which took Payne a year and a half to make, had been shown to agents and industry types roughly three weeks before the Times article appeared..
Let’s say Payne finished Martin in April or May of ‘90, and began making it, let’s further assume, in the fall of ‘88.
Did McGowan see Inside Out or did she see The Passion of Martin, which has a sex scene or two? If it’s the latter, she couldn’t have seen much in the fall of ‘88 as Payne was only just beginning to work on it. Let’s presume that he showed her a rough cut of some kind, perhaps during the spring or summer of ‘89. Maybe.
I’d never seen The Passion of Martin before this morning. I haven’t actually watched all of it — only the first 15 minutes. But it’s sharply written and certainly well crafted, especially for a meagerly-budgeted student film. The only problem is the lead actor, Charlie Hayward, who strikes me as a bit creepy.