In his 7.15 review of Morgan Neville‘s Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (opening Friday), Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern notes that the film “has been criticized for what some see as a sexist and reductionist implication that Bourdain’s failed relationship with his last girlfriend, the Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, was the cause of his suicide.
“Argento figures significantly toward the end of the film, as she did in its subject’s life,” Morgenstern writes. “But she’s a latecomer in a documentary that evokes, and makes sense of, the full sweep of Anthony Bourdain’s gifts, charms, successive careers, sustaining passions and bedeviling obsessions. A film of fitting energy and complexity, it’s a stirring account of an astonishing life.”
I’m sorry but that’s just not honest or true. After seeing Neville’s film a month ago I tried to explain the Bourdain suicide thing as plainly as possible (6.16). Here it is again for good measure:
“The first 80 to 90 minutes of Roadrunner are just okay. At times they almost feel a bit boring. But during the final 30 or 40 minutes the film dives into the ‘what happened during the final few weeks of Bourdain’s life, and why did he fucking hang himself?’ section.
“By the end the viewer has been left with a clear impression that Bourdain’s relationship with the notoriously edgy and prickly Asia Argento was a giddy, obsessive thing that intensified Bourdain’s hot plate and probably jarred his sense of emotional equilibrium.
“I’m not saying that Argento ‘killed’ him in some way — Bourdain sadly did that all to himself — but she definitely shook him up and rattled his composure and apparently brought him to the edge of something or other.
“Bourdain was a moody, free-associating, nakedly honest fellow with a tendency to occasionally fall into caves of depression, and it appears that he swan-dove into the Argento relationship without the slightest sense of measured, step-by-step gradualism. Frank Sinatra once sang “let’s take it nice and easy…it’s gonna be so easy.” Bourdain definitely didn’t do that with Argento.
“There’s a stocky guy from Bourdain’s camera crew who tells Neville that Anthony was ‘a lifelong addictive personality, [and at the end he was] addicted to another person [i.e., Argento]. He didn’t understand he would drive her away if he didn’t stop talking about [how great she was]…you could see her pulling back and he just wouldn’t stop.’
“So in a way Bourdain was apparently smothering Argento to some extent, and so just before his death she performed that public affair in Rome with Hugo Clement. Her apparent intention was to say to Bourdain ‘back off, don’t smother me, let me be free.’ She and Bourdain had an open relationship, but if Argento had been a tad more considerate she would have indulged herself with Clement more discreetly.
In the doc, Parts Unknown director Michael Steed says he checked on Bourdain after the Argento-Clement photos appeared online, and that Bourdain was not cool about it, mentioning that “a little fucking discretion” would have been nice on Argento’s part.
He meant that if you have an open relationship you fuck around in the shadows — you don’t push it in your partner’s face.
Argento didn’t push Bourdain off the cliff — he jumped of his own accord. But had it not been for their relationship and his extreme immersion in that bond, Bourdain might be alive today. Maybe. Who knows? Possibly. This is definitely what the film leaves you with.
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It’s good that Britney Spears was today granted a request to hire her own attorney, which “could mark a major shift in how her 13-year conservatorship case has been handled” — or, in plainer terms, could result in her conservatorship being dissolved altogether, which is what Spears wants.
N.Y. Times: The pre-scheduled court hearing was forced to address the sudden departure of her court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, who has handled her case since 2008. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny approved Ingham’s resignation and his replacement with Spears’ chosen attorney, former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart.
NBC News: “Spears broke down in tears during Wednesday’s hearing, explaining to the judge that she was ‘extremely scared’ of her father, James “Jamie” Spears, and that she is not willing to be evaluated in order to remove him.
“‘I’m here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse,’ she said, adding that she wanted him investigated and that ‘this conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin my life.'”
On the other hand the appearance of Florida congressman Matt Gaetz at a “Free Britney” rally outside the same Los Angeles courthouse probably wasn’t the greatest “look” for the Spears team. Gaetz was obviously trying to rehabilitate his image as a guy who’s revelled in the company of young women, including a 17 year-old girl. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, but we all know what he was attempting to “say”, p.r.-wise.
I was dozing through some spritzed-up, century-old YouTube footage (4K, 60 fps) of New York City a while ago, and the musical score, which I didn’t immediately recognize, snuck up and took me away. It wasn’t as delicate or sublime as Rachmaninoff‘s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini“, but it was all sad strings and seemed to be coming from the same general ballpark. A movie score, I began to suspect, but which? Then it hit me.
It was Hans Zimmer‘s main theme (“Tennessee”) from Michael Bay‘s Pearl Harbor (’01). Which shocked me because most of us don’t associate whorish or bombastic or otherwise second-rate films with stirring musical scores. So please tell me which films that everyone agreed weren’t very good or worse…which of these flawed films had exceptionally moving scores? There must be at least a few.
From “Bay of Lost Hope,” posted on 6.26.09:
“There was a movie-theatre moment eight years ago when I thought Michael Bay might one day grow into a semi-mature film artist. Maybe. To my delight and surprise the opening of Pearl Harbor began with Hans Zimmer‘s music playing for nine or ten beautiful seconds over a black screen — a semi-overture, I thought at first. But the black gave way to a shot of World War I-era biplanes cruising over cornfields during magic hour — a middle-American nostalgia scene. And then the film was and up and running, and soon it was all downhill.
Nonetheless that black-screen opener was, I have to say, mildly impressive.
“I asked Bay about this at a press conference the next day. He talked about how he had to fight hard to begin the film this way, especially since it meant not starting this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film with the traditional highway-tree-lightning Bruckheimer logo.
All of a sudden there’s a surge of Cannes oogah-boogah, generated by three recently-screened titles. Things are happening, the communal blood is up, buzz is buzzin’, etc.
The craziest of the three is Julia Ducournau‘s Titane, an extreme wackazoid auto-erotic midnight movie (“very violent”) made for critics who love embracing the outer behavioral limits as a way of asserting their anti-bourgeois credentials.
The most quietly absorbing and perhaps the saddest and most compelling is Asghar Farhadi‘s A Hero, a reportedly subtle, solemn and very well made Iran-based drama about an indebted man, on a brief furlough from prison, trying to do the right thing only to suffer the ravages of social media.
And an impressive blend of scurviness, small-town desperation and humanist compassion is reportedly delivered by Sean Baker‘s Red Rocket, a small-time loser drama about an aged-out porn star (Simon Rex) flopping on his mother’s couch in Texas City, Texas (an oil-refinery suburb of Galveston) as he tries to somehow regenerate his life by finding a hot young lassie who might be interested in a porn career and may have the stuff that will strike sparks with the Los Angeles porn industry
Which of these films will most likely penetrate the thick gelatinous membrane of the American moviegoing consciousness (or at least movie-watching distraction)…which show will animate the attention span or activate the den of drooping cultural depression?
Obviously Baker’s Red Rocket (the term, by the way, is slang for a dog’s erection) because it’s American and involves banal oozy sex and general small-town, what-the-fuck depravity — familiar topics for many younger Americans these days.
Farhadi’s A Hero will travel with Farhadi fans (and that would include yours truly) and that in itself should suffice.
And Ducournau’s Titane is obviously made for the wackos and weirdos…have at it!