Tatiana Antropova (aka the fabled SRO) has been granted membership in SAG-AFTRA. This is partly due to having worked on and off as a background actress for the last couple of years. To become a full, ratified, card-carrying member she needs to submit the usual $445 in annual dues (one payment in October, another in April). But she’s heard that SAG/AFTRA members don’t get as much work as non-union members, or at least not with Central Casting. She can go to other agencies, of course, but they allegedly require fees before booking her. (Or so I understand.) Tatiana is hereby requesting advice from SAG-AFTRA members about whether becoming a union member will likely result in more or less work, and in what way things may or may not change for her.
Earlier this year Kino Lorber released a first-rate Bluray of Phillip Borsos‘ The Grey Fox (’82), hailed as one of the greatest Canadian films ever made and in my view one of the most convincing old-time western recreations.
Convincing because unlike 98% of period films released during the 20th or 21st Century, The Grey Fox — a mostly gentle saga of gentleman train robber Bill Miner (Richard Farnsworth) — looks, feels and sounds as if it was actually shot in early 1900s British Columbia. Every element in Borsos’ film — dialogue, aroma, atmosphere, period detail — feels 100% organic and dead to rights.
Needless to explain this kind of authenticity is almost completely out the window these days.
I regret to say that Kino Lorber’s trailer fails to reflect the just-right poignancy and natural rhythms of the film itself. I’m sorry but it happens now and then.
Wiki excerpt: According to Farnsworth, the “picture company” was the only one ever allowed to film at Fort Steele, British Columbia, a heritage site. The Grey Fox was also filmed on the British Columbia Railway / Pacific Great Eastern Railway, now run by Canadian National Railway, between Pemberton and Lillooet, British Columbia, and the Lake Whatcom Railway between Wickersham and Park, Washington. The capture sequence was shot a quarter of a mile from where Miner was actually caught. Miner’s actual gun, a .41 Bisley Colt, was obtained from a collector and used by Farnsworth in close-ups.
Katie Couric spoke earlier today on Instagram with former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, a bright and knowledgable guy. Donald “Psycho” Trump, Rudy Giuliani, William Barr, Sidney Powell…all the malicious beasts. I’ve just listened through, the content is the content, and I was constantly engrossed.
Streaming films at home means you’re watching from inside a kind of isolation tank — whatever you’re feeling or not feeling, it pretty much belongs to you alone (and possibly to your significant other or kids), and is probably being expressed in some sort of muted fashion.
But things are a lot different when you see a dynamically effective film with a responsive audience. (Remember?). Key moments can feel like emotional explosions or symphonic crescendos, and they’re really quite intense.
Yesterday on Twitter Edgar Wright launched a conversation about this. He began by recalling a major moment when he saw Adrien Lyne‘s Fatal Attraction in a packed house. Wright: “Anne Archer‘s line to Glenn Close over the phone, ‘If you come near my family again I’ll kill you’, made the place ERUPT in applause.”
In his Criterion Bluray High Noon commentary, film prof Howard Suber claims that 1952 audiences went nuts when Grace Kelly, a devout Quaker, shot one of the bad guys (Robert Wilke) during the final gunfight. I can understand that. It’s quite a payoff.
Many have spoken of great audience excitement when all the superheroes gather for battle at the end of Joe and Anthony Russo‘s Avengers: Endgame.
One of my favorite audience reactions happened during a showing of Ridley Scott‘s Alien (’79) in an Upper West Side cinema. As Sigourney Weaver‘s Ripley is preparing to leave the Nostromo inside a small space cruiser, she returns to the Nostromo’s danger zone (i.e., where H.R. Giger‘s alien might be lurking) to look for her cat “Jonesy.” The audience (especially the African American members, if I’m allowed to say this) started howling when she did this. “Ohhh, mann…whatchoo doin’? Jeeezus….fuck the cat, man…FUCK THE CAT!”
Please share any such moments from your collective memory pools…thanks.
There are certain opinions you’re encouraged to have, and others that are better left unsaid. What I’m about to share doesn’t qualify as one of the latter, but it slightly flirts with that realm. I’ll try and share it cautiously and with respect to all parties.
Last night I watched Alan Ball‘s Uncle Frank (Amazon, 11.25). Set in ’73, it’s about a gay NYU professor named Frank Bledsoe (Paul Bettany), his Middle Eastern lover Walid Nadeem (Peter Macdissi) and Beth, Frank’s 18-year-old niece who attends NYU, driving from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina, for the funeral of Frank’s dad, Daddy Mac (Stephen Root).
The problem, of course, is that some members of Frank’s family are rube homophobe types, or so Frank fears. (Certainly when it comes to his younger brother Mike, played by Steve Zahn.) Plus gay liberation was in its infancy in the early ’70s, and it wasn’t exactly a time for gay men to routinely come out to backwater friends and families, and so Walid’s decision to invite himself along seems to portend nothing but toil and trouble.
Peter Macdissi as “Walid Nadeem” in Uncle Frank.
I couldn’t stop myself from asking why Frank’s rural, conservative family has to be confronted with his sexuality and lifestyle issues on the occasion of a funeral of a paterfamilias? Why do they have to grapple with this in a time of grief? What’s wrong with taking things one step at a time? Frank’s clan lives on a planet that has nothing whatsoever to do with his NYU realm so what’s the rush? Where’s the need? Couldn’t this issue be eased into down the road?
And now for my awkward opinion, which is that I didn’t care for Macdissi’s company. Not because he’s gay, but because he struck me as slightly creepy and overbearing in both an emotionally needy and joyful-alpha sense. I’ve always disliked people who won’t stop beaming and grinning — they’re almost as bad as those who laugh hysterically in bars and restaurants, and the instant that Walid appeared I went “oh, no…an emotionally effusive gay guy who wears his large heart on his sleeve.” He has a cloying manner and is seemingly too intimately invested in Frank to pass himself off as a straight friend who’s tagged along for emotional support or whatever.
Plus I didn’t care for Walid’s overly bushy black beard and modified mid ’60s Dave Clark Five cut. Right away I was saying “Jesus, this look doesn’t work at all.” He’s too big and broad-shouldered and too…I don’t know but right away I was muttering “trim your hair and beard, bruh, and generally tone it down.”
I’ve been delighted by gay characters almost my entire moviegoing life, and by this I include non-gay characters played by gay actors. I can recall watching This Gun For Hire on TV when I was 12 or 13 and recognizing right away that the florid Laird Cregar was perverse in a way that I’d never seen before. The first openly gay character I felt something for inside a theatre was Hurd Hatfield‘s “Terence Huntley” in The Boston Strangler (’68), followed by Cliff Gorman‘s “Emory” in The Boys in the Band (’70).
I could go on and on. Why am I pointing this out? Twitter jackals.
I might as well admit that I turned Uncle Frank off before the trio arrived at the homestead. I’ll try and finish it tonight, but I’m dreading what will happen.
P.S. You can watch it now. pic.twitter.com/0eJnGt00Zi
— Prime Video (@PrimeVideo) November 25, 2020
Friendo: “I recently finished Romain Gary‘s award-winning, best-selling ‘The Roots of Heaven,’ an excellent, deeply philosophical novel about a man who sets out to save Africa’s elephants from hunters and ivory poachers. He thinks by saving the elephants he can help mankind reclaim its humanity. John Huston made a film of it in 1958, with Errol Flynn, Trevor Howard, Juliette Greco and Eddie Albert costarring.
“It’s kind of a notorious disaster, which even Huston admitted (a) wasn’t very good, and (b) was all his fault. Although shot on location with a big budget, Roots is generally sluggish and filled with the kind of speeches that work a lot better on the page than in a film.”
Off the top of my head: Brian DePalma‘s The Bonfire of the Vanities (’90 — arguably the all-time king of crap films made from acclaimed books), Richard Brooks‘ Lord Jim (’65), David Lynch‘s Dune (/84), Michael Winterbottom‘s The Killer Inside Me (10), Roland Joffe‘s The Scarlet Letter (’95), Robert Benton‘s Billy Bathgate (’91), Francis Lawrence‘s I Am Legend…and these are just scratching the surface.
Eager journo eyeballs are now gazing upon Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World (Universal 12.25). I can only repeat my 10.22.20 observation that it appears to be “a Searchers-like tale (bookish 60ish beardo paid to deliver precocious, parentless, Kiowa-raised girl to relatives in old San Antonio) with a touch of True Grit. All kinds of adversity and prejudice slow their progress, including white slave traders looking to exploit the poor girl.
“Paul Greengrass‘s western is some kind of allegory, he’s said, for our presently divided culture. You don’t have to reassure me — Tom Hanks will do the right thing.”
What to do when confronted with woke terror mob-think in the workplace? In the view of Douglas Murray, conservative-leaning author of “The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity,” “You can re-assert your rights as an adult.”
Basic Thrust: “What I see everywhere in America in particular is the complete retreat of the adult. I have heard about a lot of people in recent years having been told, ‘Educate yourself.’ Everybody who says ‘educate yourself’, in my observation, is without exception the dimmest person I have [ever] seen speaking. They have no right to go around, being the stupidest person in the room, telling everyone else to educate themselves.” Because what they really mean is ‘agree with me or else.’
“Well, here’s a suggestion: The adults say ‘No — you do not know anything. You’re 23, you’ve got a totalistic view of the universe, and you’re going to discover quite soon or at some point in your life that you’re wildly wrong, and you are making yourself unemployable.’ For [these people] are bringing in a kind or moral and mental asbestos.”