Is it me or does this trailer for Dear Evan Hansen radiate an aura of extreme sensitivity and emotional vulnerability? It feels…what’s the term I’m searching for?…kinda snowflakey. Is that a fair thing to say? I think it is because the trailer is what it is, and I’m just conveying my reaction. Then again I wouldn’t want to agitate the snowflakes out there. Perhaps I shouldn’t say anything and just wait for the music and lyrics…the full package.
Among Jimmy Kimmel‘s remarks during Disney’s upfront presentation that streamed earlier Tuesday, as reported by THR‘s James Hibberd:
(a) “Here at ABC we have two kinds of shows: canceled, and ‘I didn’t know that was still on.’
(b) “The Wonder Years is back. Our programming strategy is like an old person with a computer that’s not working: Shut it down and hope it reboots. This version of The Wonder Years follows a middle-class black family in the late 1960s. And if you don’t buy ads on it, we’re going to tell everyone you’re racist.
(c) “We’re all screwed. My kids don’t even know what commercials are. I’m sorry to tell you this, but when we go on vacation and put on Cartoon Network or something, they’re like, ‘Why is this woman doing laundry in the middle of our show?’ We’re a dying breed, but [at least] we’re dying together.”
Common sense issues undermine John Krasinki‘s original A Quiet Place (’18), of course. The most glaring, for me, is the decision by Evelyn and Lee Abbott (Emily Blunt, Krasinski) to have a baby, which of course is tantamount to suicide in the “be silent or die” realm in which they’re trapped.
“Instead of addressing the gaping plot holes — why has no one else figured out the aliens’ weakness (they can’t handle tinny, high-pitched sounds generated by cochlear implants), or why these creatures have such scary teeth if they don’t stop to eat anything — the new film wagers if you’re on board for the ride, logic shouldn’t matter.
“But it does make a difference, and anyone bothered by the way Krasinski has already ignored such glaring inconsistencies as the monsters’ ability to hear small noises from far away, but not breathing or heartbeats mere inches from their ears, will drive themselves crazy this time around.
“As the helmer’s canvas widens, it becomes even harder to overlook the obvious (like the decision to transport a baby through open spaces), amounting to a cunningly executed thriller that will leave half the audience wondering, ‘Why didn’t they just do that in the first place?'”
I wrote the following article in ’97 for the L.A. Times Syndicate, and re-posted it in October ’04 — two months after launching Hollywood Elsewhere:
“Young marrieds Craig Sheffer and Sheryl Lee are lying in bed and mulling over their troubled sex life. Lee’s psychological history is at the nub. One of her problems is a bug phobia — always scrubbing under the sink, hunting around for creepy-crawlies. Anyway, the camera rises up from their bed, climbing higher and higher until it comes to an overhead propeller fan. And we suddenly notice a fly sitting on one of the blades.
How did Young get the little bugger to just sit there, waiting for his big moment?
Answer: The fly had been placed in a freezer for five minutes just before Young yelled “action!”, and was thus too frozen to make any moves. And even if he wasn’t all but frozen stiff he would’ve failed, due to a thread of tungsten wire — thinner than a human hair — tied to the fly’s midsection.
The person who arranged all this was “fly wrangler” Anne Gordon, whose company, Annie’s Animal Actors, was hired by the Bliss shoot in Vancouver.
The Bliss fly is actually a flesh fly — the kind that feeds on meat, and is about two or three times larger than your average house fly. Gordon bought 100 to the set on shooting day but only used “about a dozen” to get the shot.
A different chilled fly was used for each take, she says, because it would be cruel — not to mention impractical — for the same fly to be sent back to the freezer after each shot. The optimum time to shoot a chilled fly is four minutes after the ice chest, she says. They’re usually warmed up and able to fly around after seven minutes.
Another way to get a fly to sit still is to “cover him with a special mixture of milk and honey,” says Mark Dumas of the Vancouver-based Creative Animal Talent. “That way it’ll stay there a while and groom itself.”
The overhead ceiling fan shot was “tough,” says Gordon, and not just because of fly-prep issues. She says she felt a bit awkward looking down at a couple doing a love scene all day. “They’re down in the bed doing their thing and I’m up on the ladder,” she says. “They hardly had anything on.”
Tom Wolfe, seven or eight years ago (starting at:17): “I’ve never been tempted to write a memoir. I really honestly believe what George Orwell said, which was that the memoir, the autobiography, is the worst form of fiction ever devised. Because people are willing to confess to anything colorful or exciting [in their lives]…they murdered somebody or they smoked a lot of dope…it could be almost anything.
“Except for the humiliations. They will never write about the humiliations, which, Orwell said, make up 75% of life. I couldn’t agree more with that.”
Wolfe is right — the best autobiographies are those in which the author doesn’t cut himself/herself the slightest break. Which is why my forthcoming, work-in-progress memoir (I probably won’t call it Last Honest Asshole but the title is catchy) will rank highly as I’ve never shirked from talking about rejection, melancholy moods, sullenness and feelings of existential downerism and depression — these states of mind have been tugging at my spirit since I was six. The problem of course, is that most people don’t want to read about guys who scowl and feel shitty about things. And so editors are always telling writers to keep things lively, and that means good, well-told stories, etc.
This is one reason why I shut down after an hour’s worth of party chatter. Because you’re obliged to be “on” all the time, and nobody wants to hear anything but funny stories, pithy insights and amusing anecdotes.
The brilliant, amusingly twitchy and fickle-minded Charles Grodin, 86, has passed on. In my heart and mind Grodin was a mythical actor of the highest neurotic order, and lo and behold he died at his residence in my high-school home town of Wilton, Connecticut.
Knowing he was a Wilton guy somehow adds to my understanding of him. He lived on Chestnut Hill Road…know it well.
I interviewed Grodin once or twice in the ’90s or early aughts…easy guy to converse with. (All my life I’ve gotten along famously with super-smart neurotic Jews, being an honorary neurotic Jew myself.) We also chatted blithely at a couple of N.Y. Film Festival parties in the late ’70s or early ’80s…I forget the particulars.
For me Grodin was defined by five key performances, and his first pop-through didn’t happen until age 32 or 33 when he played Dr. Hill, that kindly, low-key Manhattan obstetrician (John Cassevetes referred to him as “Charlie Nobody”) who betrayed Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby (’68).
The next milestone was his creepily vacant performance as Captain “Aarfy” Aardvark in Mike Nichols Catch-22 (’70), closely followed by his career-defining role as a mentally deranged sporting-goods salesman named Lenny in Elaine May‘s The Heartbreak Kid (’72). The next highlight was his performance as Tony Abbott, the blithe executive assistant to Warren Beatty‘s “Leo Farnsworth” in Heaven Can Wait (’78). The final keeper was his deadpan mob accountant, “Duke” Madukas, in Midnight Run (’88), made when Grodin was 52 or thereabouts.
Grodin is also fondly remembered for his roles in Real Life (’79), Seems Like Old Times (’80), Ishtar (’87) and Dave (’93). Not to mention his many appearance on Late Night with David Letterman (the angry schtick with his lawyer) and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
It was only a week ago when I ran that appreciation of his confrontation scene with Eddie Albert in The Heartbreak Kid, and a couple months ago when I riffed on that great father-daughter scene he shared with Robert DeNiro, Danielle DuClos and Wendy Phillips in Midnight Run.
Grodin’s N.Y. Times obit mentions Beethoven as one of his most beloved films — it is? I never want to see Beethoven again in my life…ever! I barely even remember Grodin’s performance, to be perfectly honest. Okay, he was infuriated and horrified by the big galumphy Saint Bernard…whatever.