From a 4.13 Anne Thompson Indiewire piece, an anonymous publicist and Oscar voter…
From a 4.13 Anne Thompson Indiewire piece, an anonymous publicist and Oscar voter…
Now that sunny, blue-sky weather has returned to the New York City area after two days of blustery chills and occasional rain, Tatiana and I are sadly returning to Los Angeles. Our United flight leaves Newark around 4:15 or 4:30.
Every so often I’ll post some dismissive remark about Howard Hughes and Dick Powell’s radioactive, cancer-ridden The Conqueror (‘56). But that’s because the basic concept (John Wayne as a Mongolian warlord) and poster art have always seemed so silly on their own terms. The truth is that I’ve never seen this allegedly tiresome film. Has anyone?
This was batted around on Twitter a couple of days ago by Tomris Laffly, but here goes anyway. I agree that Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (combined with his even-better performance in The Wolf of Wall Street) — two 20teen performances that won the Best Actor Oscar — are truly exceptional and way better than the other eight.
Actually let’s add Joaquin Phoenix‘s Oscar-winner in Joker and make it a triumvirate.
I respect Colin Firth‘s work in The King’s Speech, but I’ll never watch that film again. Ditto Jean Dujardin in The Artist — a film that I begged critics and Oscar handicappers not to embrace so uncritically. Did they listen? Of course not.
Good enough, fine, good job but calm down: Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer’s Club, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Last night I asked HE’s Chicago-based design guy Mark Frenden to take a stab at redesigning the logo for Hollywood Anonymous, a new Substack that I announced on 4.6.
The basic concept, as noted, is anonymously written reportage about what Hollywood life is actually like these days in terms of production, distribution, casting, financing, publicity, Hollywood-angled journalism, fleeting social alliances, ferreting out the insufficiently woke and so on. The kind of “this is how things really are these days” articles that people aren’t allowed to write at publications anymore. No names, no hints, no allusions, no nothin’.
Anyway, here’s what Mark delivered in terms of a horizontal banner and a small box-like accompaniment:
This may sound a bit strange but bear with me, or more precisely with Adam McKay. In a 4.12 N.Y. Times Sunday Magazine interview with David Marchese, the director of The Big Short and the forthcoming Don’t Look Up breaks down some differences between today’s lunatic righties, all-but-extinct classic Republicans, moderate liberals and serious lefties like McKay.
McKay does so by way of a comparison between himself and The Trial of the Chicago 7‘s Aaron Sorkin.
McKay: “For all intents and purposes the Republican Party is no longer a functioning political party with actual policies and ideas” — true. “It’s motivated by pure power, reactionary beliefs. So I would say the real right wing in our country is the moderates” — not true. Left-center moderates like myself are left leaning within reasonable, fair-minded restraints. We’re not righties — we’re sensible lefties (i.e., in favor of $15 an hour minimum wage) minus your woke totalitarian Khmer Rouge cancel-culture mentality.
In other words, McKay is claiming that moderates (center-left or center-right) are the new classic Republicans. Sorry but there’s nothing “Republican” about this horse — I swear by the theology of kindness and humanitarianism, I love who Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are deep down, I’ve taken LSD and mescaline, I don’t relate to people who play golf or visit Dubai, I occasionally ride a rumblehog, I’ll cross the street to avoid babbling homeless people, I was once immersed in the Bhagavad Gita, I’ve been to Prague for hair treatments, I wear Italian suede lace-ups and high-thread-count T-shirts…don’t call me even vaguely Republican!
McKay: “The right-wing version of me — maybe this isn’t the best example — is an Aaron Sorkin. You’ve got to remember, we just saw seven Democrats vote against raising a minimum wage that is $7.25 an hour. That’s extremely right-wing. Bill Clinton, the policies he pushed through, are right-wing” — what Sorkin means is that policy-wise Clinton was a moderate Eisenhower Republican.
McKay: “The whole definition of right and left in our country is shattered because of this Republican Party that is almost a Ponzi scheme of meaning.
Someone or some entity will step in and save H’wood’s Arclight plex and particularly the Cinerama Dome**. Some wealthy entrepeneur or digital distribution company (Netflix, Amazon, Quentin Tarantino) will save the day. The Arclight cinemas (including the ones in Sherman Oaks and Culver City) are central to the L.A. movie experience. They’re simply not allowed to permanently shutter…out of the question.
** The ultra-curved Cinerama Dome screen distorts the shit out of Scope films (2.39:1), by the way. It distorts the shit out of everything.
All hail director Richard Rush, who passed on 4.8.21 at age 91.
I met, interviewed and even hung out with Rush a bit during the 1980 promotion (spring and summer) of The Stunt Man — an audacious, whimsical turn-on that’s partly a sardonic comedy and partly a surreal meditation on the nature of “reality” and filmmaking. It was Rush’s one big triumph, or more precisely as a success d’estime within the community of hip know-it-all critics.
I was flattered to be invited to a special Manhattan Stunt Man gathering that included Rush, costar Steve Railsback and three or four elite journo schmoozer types — a boozy late-night hang that went into the wee hours. Out of this I became friendly (short termish) with Railsback’s wife Jackie (aka Jackie Giroux). Several weeks later I wangled a GQ assignment to interview Peter O’Toole, whose Stunt Man performance as director Eli Cross was one of his best, at his London home**.
Wiki excerpt: “Adapted by Rush and Lawrence B. Marcus from a same-titled 1970 novel by Paul Brodeur, The Stunt Man is about a young fugitive (Railsback) who lucks into a stunt double gig on the set of a World War I movie whose charismatic director (O’Toole) is quite the force of nature. Pic was nominated for three Oscars: O’Toole for Best Actor, Rush for Best Director and also for Best Adapted Screenplay.”
Nocturnal high-def Los Angeles in the early to mid ’40s…Gilda, The Outlaw, The Letter on theatre marquees. Hat stores, fur stores, Atlantic Richfield gas stations. A large spotlight mounted on a flatbed truck. Hundreds upon hundreds of mid ’40s autos parked curbside — a 2021 film set in this era couldn’t hope to deliver this kind of authentic realism. Downtown Los Angeles plus the mean streets of Hollywood. Video-like clarity plus simulated sound…fairly amazing.
For an alleged “problem” movie, Joe Wright‘s The Woman in the Window (Netflix, 5.14) seems more intriguing due to the latest trailer. Pic was initially slated for a 10.4.19 release via 20th Century Fox. Disney, which bought Fox on 3.20.19, got the willies after alleged poor test screening results. Pic was recut and given a 5.15.20 theatrical release. But then Covid stepped in. Netflix bought Wright’s film on 8.3.20.
[Video clip posted two or three times, but the copy was originally posted on 1.10.15]: There are great movie finales, or ones that end on a sum-up note that is fair, concise, honest, eloquent. And there are finales that do all that but also reach inside and push that button that you yourself don’t know how to find, much less push, half the time. A kind of sinking sensation in your soul. A sense of sudden wisdom and sadness and being oddly at peace with everything, including your own miserable self.
This is how I’ve felt time and again during the last 60 seconds of Franklin J. Schaffner‘s Patton (’69), stirringly fortified by Jerry Goldsmith‘s score and particularly by the words “all glory is fleeting.”
In short, everything worth cherishing in life is fleeting…it all fades and vaporizes…romantic love, freshly-shined shoes, a perfectly tuned six-cylinder engine, purring cats on your lap, world-class wifi, general ecstasy, feelings of absolute security, exquisite guitar playing, momentary pride in a difficult achievement, warm sunshine, the balm of friendship and camaraderie, the sight of snow-capped mountain peaks against a sparkling blue sky, perfect glasses of pineapple juice, Everett Sloane‘s girl in a white dress on the Staten Island ferry…don’t get me started.
All of it streaming past, leaves floating away on a mountain stream, nothing to have or hold. Either you savor your passing delights as impermanent and all the more valuable for that, or you don’t.
God: “What do you want from me?” Me: “I don’t know. The good moments lasting a little longer?”
Forthwith are the names of Hollywood luminaries who passed in 2020 or early ’21. I’m assuming all or most will be included in the Oscar telecast death reel, but you know the Academy — they always cut or ignore at random. Who’s safe and who might not be? And who am I missing?
Sean Connery, Chadwick Boseman, Kirk Douglas, Kelly Preston, (not Eddie Van Halen), Orson Bean, (not Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald Bell), Honor “Pussy Galore” Blackman, Wilford Brimley, Kobe Bryant (his Dear Basketball won Best Animated Short Film Oscar), Edd “Kookie” Byrnes (not Pierre Cardin), Robert Conrad, (not Mac Davis), Olivia de Havilland, Brian Dennehy, (possibly not Rhonda Fleming), Buck Henry, Ian Holm, (possibly not Terry Jones), Irrfan Khan, John Le Carre, James Lipton, (possibly not Terrence McNally, who was primarily a playwright), (possibly not Ken “Eddie Haskell” Osmond), (possibly not Regis Philbin), David “Darth Vader” Prowse, Carl Reiner, Diana Rigg, John Saxon, Joel Schumacher, Jerry Stiller, (probably not Alex Trebek), Max von Sydow, (possibly not Lyle Waggoner, Dawn Wells or Fred Willard), Bertrand Tavernier…a total of 25 solid inclusions, give or take.
Add-ons: Michael Apted. Allen Daviau. Alan Parker. Michael Chapman, Lynn Stalmaster.
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