“If we’re gonna take on China, if we’re gonna rebuild the country, if we’re gonna reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are living in reality, and [loony Republicans] ain’t one of ’em.” — Democratic Ohio representative Tim Ryan earlier today.
I’ve heard that Leisl Tommy‘s Respect (UA Releasing, 8.13.21) is a generally dependable biopic that hits the basic marks and does what Aretha Franklin fans will want it to do…cool.
A gifted young girl, loved and nurtured, has a singing destiny, and damned if she doesn’t fulfill it. Early childhood in Memphis and Chicago, the usual hurdles and hardships, and then wrapping it all up with the January 1972 Amazing Grace concert inside L.A.’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church.
A friend saw Respect months ago, and I must have asked three or four times if that Muscle Shoals recording studio episode (i.e., the recording of “I Never Loved A Man”) is part of Respect or not. He never quite gave me a clean answer, but I’m getting a feeling that it might not be, possibly because the savior of that session wasn’t Aretha but the great Spooner Oldham, who came up with the Wurlitzer riff that made that song work from the get-go.
How did Anthony Quinn feel when he first saw this poster in ’61 and knew that for the rest of his life certain movie fans would associate him with the idea of seething rage and muskrat teeth? And it’s all imagined by the illustrator. There isn’t a single scene in The Guns of Navarone in which Quinn gets angry at anyone, much less flashes his teeth. During most of the film he plays it steely and sullen. The one exception is an Act Two scene when he pretends to be a coward, moaning and whimpering and crawling around on the floor in front of Nazi captors.
I can’t find the link, but I’m 96% certain that “way back when” I read a print interview with Cher that touched on her relationship with Gregg Allman, and that she told the interviewer that when she and Allman first met sometime in early ’75 “I’d never heard of him.”
The Allman Brothers Band burst onto the rock scene in ’69, and had become stone legends by late ’70. Duane’s motorcycle-accident death (10.29.71) was a huge tragedy. The Eat A Peach album (’72) was huge. They toured all over. Not knowing the Allmans was like not knowing who Elton John or Linda Ronstadt or the Eagles were.
Cher had been rich and famous since the mid ’60s, and living in her Sony and Cher Comedy Hour realm between ’71 and ’74. I’m not 100% sure about the above-referenced quote, but if Cher said it it’s worth contemplating, I think.
Every couple of years Hollywood Elsewhere devolves into a vein of sentimental appreciation for Howard Hawks‘ Only Angels Have Wings (’39). There’s also a theory going ’round that not every HE loyalist has read and memorized each and every post. So on that basis…
The realm of Only Angels Have Wings is all male, all the time. Feelings run fairly strong (the pilots who are “good enough” love each other like brothers) but nobody lays their emotional cards on the table face-up. Particularly Cary Grant‘s Geoff, a brusque, hard-headed type who never has a match on him. He gradually falls in love with Jean Arthur but refuses to say so or even indicate much. But he does subtly reveal his feelings at the end with the help of a two-headed coin.
It’s not what any woman or poet would call a profound declaration of love, but it’s as close to profound as it’s going to get in this 1939 Howard Hawks film. If Angels were remade today with Jennifer Lawrence in the Arthur role she’d probably say “to hell with it” and catch the boat, but in ’39 the coin was enough. Easily one of the greatest finales in Hollywood history.
I’m not a big pie guy as a rule. I’ll have an occasional slice of pumpkin pie around the holidays, but that’s about it. I nonetheless ordered apple pie a la mode last night at Barney’s Beanery…an idea that hit me out of the blue. The vanilla ice cream was perfect, but I went into…well, you’d have to call it shock when I saw that the pie was covered with melted cheese.
Call me ignorant and naive, but until last night I’d never even heard of cheese-melt apple pie. I knew right away that I couldn’t even think about eating it. Or sampling it. I was gradually persuaded to take a single bite, and I couldn’t really taste the cheese. The sugared apple stuffing was overpowering.
Our waitress informed us that cheese-melt apple pie has been served by Barney’s Beanery since it opened 101 years ago.
Research: “In 1998, a reader of the Los Angeles Times complained that ‘[a column] about cheese and apple pie left me feeling like I live in the twilight zone… I have so far never encountered American friends or acquaintances who even want to try this.” When asked whether he ate pie with cheese in his home state of Mississippi, one chef said: “Oh, God no! They’d put you away in a home.”
“The idea appears to have originated in England, where all sorts of fillings were added to pies. At some point, the 17th-century trend of adding dairy-based sauces to pies morphed into a tradition of topping them with cheese. For instance, in Yorkshire, apple pie was served with Wensleydale, which is likely how the phrase ‘an apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze’ began.
“According to The Mystic Seaport Cookbook: 350 Years of New England Cooking, New England settlers brought the idea behind these Yorkshire pies with them, but instead of Wensleydale, they began using cheddar.”
I have this notion that Jennifer Lawrence has been half-flatlining over over the last seven or eight years. She’s been in some popular films (Hunger Games, X-Men franchise installments), a couple of well-reviewed David O. Russell films (American Hustle, Joy), a morally repulsive stinker (Passengers), a brilliant Darren Aronofsky smarthouse horror classic (mother!) and a weird disappointment (Red Sparrow).
Alas, none of these have really throbbed and zapped like her early-Obama-era success d’estime Winter’s Bone, and certainly never matched her career-peak performance in Silver Linings Playbook, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar. Eight, nine years ago.
The last time I even thought about Lawrence was when I was complaining about the spreading neck beard worn by her husband, Cooke Maroney.
My general feeling is that she needs to get back on it, strike sparks, generate currents, go for the gusto.
Lawrence has two films coming out later this year, but only one she’s starring in — Lila Neugebauer and Elizabeth Sanders‘ Red White and Water (A24), a war-wound recovery drama which shot during the summer of ’19 in the New Orleans area.
The other is Adam McKay‘s Don’t Look Up, a star-studded sci-fi ensemble piece in which she costars with Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet and Ariana Grande. (Yes, the above “teaser” is a fake, fan-made thing.)
In the spring of ’19 Collider‘s Jeff Sneider reported that Red, White and Water “will find Lawrence playing a U.S. soldier who suffers a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan and struggles to recover back home.”
“Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing alongside Lawrence and her Excellent Cadaver partner Justine Polsky. Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry stars opposite Lawrence. Neugebauer made her Broadway debut last year directing the revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery starring Elaine May and Lucas Hedges, and she also helmed an episode of the HBO anthology series Room 104.”
The mention of Montepulciano in the Benedetta riff took me back, search-wise, to a 3.14.10 post titled “The Crowd.” It was about a woman friend planning a visit to Tuscany with her mom, and my begging her not to submit to a typical-tourist agenda.
“Please think about compassionately persuading your mom to submit to a little Sheltering Sky atmosphere with visits to San Donato or Volpaia,” I wrote. “Or places like them, at least. To do only tourist spots is to ensure that your journey will be colored if not dominated by mobs of people, and worse than that — people from Topeka, Trenton, Minneapolis, Augusta, Waco, Terre Haute, Orlando and Sacramento. It’ll be like making love with re-runs from TV Land and Nickleodeon playing loudly on the TV nearby. It just breaks my heart, knowing what you guys are headed for. And willingly yet!”
This, of course, resulted in outrage. HE commenter Errant Elan said “my beautiful, wonderful foster-parents were born and raised in Minneapolis, and several of my very best friends come from Topeka!” Another commenter, Mo’Nique Waltz, asked “Wells, do you have any love in your heart at all for your fellow man?”
My reply: “To paraphrase Marcus Brutus, ‘Tis not that I love my fellow man less, but that I love more the spellbinding beauty of centuries-old Europe.’
“It’s not really Minnesotans or Georgians or rural Californians per se that I was expressing disdain for. I can take or leave people as they come, and I always smile and offer a handshake and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Rural Americans are so quick to take offense when these discussions come up. “Why can’t New Yorkers and Los Angelenos be a little nicer?” etc. Being nice is everything to them. Well, I like ‘nice’ also (who doesn’t?), but there are other realms and philosophies out there.
“My beef is how the tour-bus crowd (which tends to be composed of older, middle-American suburbans or rurals who are a little timid and unsure of themselves when visiting any place that could be called exotic, which I guess could be defined as a place that doesn’t have corporate chain stores inside malls) tends to mess with the pastoral or architectural or simple atmospheric beauty of an ancient culture or ancient locale — that take-me-away and levitate-me vibe of centuries-old Italy — when they come roaring into some exquisite spot inside their godawful tour buses, invading a place en masse like an occupying army — a roaming battalion of offensively dressed, fanny-pack-carrying, sandal-wearing biddies and gawkers and sea lions with their cameras and camcorders snapping and flashing away and ordering gelato and paninis in their horrible T-shirts and shorts and whatnot.
“They travel around Europe in packs because they’re scared of the unfamiliar. The herding instinct = safety and comfort. And the metaphor of that banding together — that basic fear of the unknown and an experience that hasn’t been pre-planned or prepared by a booklet or a tour guide — coupled with all their other aesthetic offenses has a way of overpowering and even infecting the serenity that some places have, and which was there centuries before they came. And that is how these folks ruin certain places — how they take them over and turn them into ‘tourist haunts’ that the tour buses, completing the cultural pile-on effect, always take them to, etc.
I’ve been imagining atmospheric slivers of Paul Verhoeven‘s Benedetta since the project began filming in Italy (Montepulciano, Val d’Orcia, Bevagna) and France almost three years ago. Who hasn’t?
One would presume that the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (7.6 through 7.17) would premiere Benedetta two or three days before the European commercial debut (Friday, 7.9).
Based upon Judith C. Brown‘s 1986 book “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” and infused with Verhoeven’s “sense of the sacred.” (We all know what that probably means.**)
Cannes honcho Thierry Fremaux last year: “Paul Verhoeven delivers an erotic and mischievous, also political, vision of the Middle Ages in a grandiose production.” The key terms, trust me, are “mischievous” and “grandiose.”
** The script was co-authored by Verhoeven and David Burke (Elle). An earlier adaptation, which would have been titled Blessed Virgin, was penned by Jean-Claude Carrière. Veteran Verhoeven collaborator Gerard Soeteman (Turkish Delight, The Fourth Man, Black Book), replaced Carrière, although Soeteman “ultimately distanced himself from the project and had his name removed from the credits as he felt too much of the story was focused on sexuality.”