Last night and for the first time in 40 years, I watched Robert Benton's Still of the Night ('82). Which isn't very good. A cautious, understated Hitchcockian homage without much of a raison d'etre of its own. Awkward, under-written dialogue. It has a certain interesting tension at first, then it loses that. Not awful and sometimes almost "there", but never gripping. Login with Patreon to view this post
For me, Hardy Kruger really stood out in only two films — the model-plane engineer in The Flight of the Phoenix, of course, and Cpt. Potsdorf in Barry Lyndon. Kruger was always a convincing actor, but he never blew the roof off. Which is fine. He was who he was, stood his own ground.
I think it’s important to post this portion of his Wiki page, for clarity’s sake:
“From 1941 [when he was 13], Kruger attended an elite Adolf Hitler School at the Ordensburg Sonthofen. At the age of 15, Hardy made his film début in Alfred Weidenmann‘s The Young Eagles.
“In March 1945, Krüger was assigned to the 38th SS Division Nibelungen and was drawn into heavy combat. The 16-year-old Krüger was ordered to shoot at an American squad. When he refused, he was sentenced to death for cowardice, but another SS officer countermanded the order. Krüger described this experience as his break with Nazism. He afterwards served as a messenger for the SS, but later escaped and hid out in Tyrol until the end of the war.
“He was a member of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and frequently spoke publicly against extremism and for democracy, citing his own experiences.”
16 months hence Errol Morris and Robert McNamara‘s The Fog of War will be officially 20 years old, and I’m wondering what our wonderful cancel culture fanatics would say about it today. “This film coddles a war criminal!…normalizes and rationalizes mass murder!,” etc.
I still regard The Fog of War as one of the most emotional docs I’ve ever seen. Phillip Glass‘s techno score is one of the most haunting ever created for a non-narrative feature.
Even in its meticulous recountings of wartime strategies and mistakes that led to mass killings on an almost unimaginable scale, The Fog of War is fraught with feeling…with ache and nostalgia and puddles of regret and candid admissions that cut like knives.
The combination of Robert McNamara stating that while working for Col. Curtis LeMay during World War II he was “part of a mechanism” that fire-bombed and murdered 100,000 Tokyo citizens, and his story of the B-29 captain who was furious that the 5000-foot bombing altitude led to the death of his wing-man, and in recounting LeMay’s response McNamara starts to choke up. 100,000 Tokyo citizens burned to death across 15 square miles, and McNamara weeps about a single Air Force guy who caught a bullet.
If that doesn’t get you emotionally, I don’t know what would. Alternately startling, numbing, unnerving…I’ve never forgotten it.
In early ’04 The Fog of War won the Best Feature Doc Oscar.
Based on Dack’s same-titled 2018 short, it’s about a hugely creepy relationship between a fatherless 17 year-old (Lily McInerney) and a 34 year-old opportunist and latent scumbag (Jonathan Tucker).
It’s the kind of lopsided relationship that would make any decent person gag, and so I was struck by Indiewire‘s Jude Dry describing this transitional coupling as a “power imbalance” thing. That’s putting it way too mildly, but then “power imbalance” is a trending term in #MeToo circles.
The term indicates abuse, of course, by the more powerful partner, and most of the time we’re talking about abusing dudes.
The dogma is that if a guy has more power and authority than his prospective female partner or, if you will, victim (especially in a school or workplace, in some organizational or administrative capacity), he is probably using her, callously or maliciously, for his own agenda.
The basic idea or guiding principle is that couples shouldn’t go out unless the prospective partners have the same or similar amounts of power. If the woman is older, wealthier or has more power, nobody objects. But if the guy has more power there’s a concern that he might be some kind of beast (as James Franco‘s accusers have claimed) and perhaps even worse.
It follows, of course, that heterosexual couplings over the centuries have been fueled by tens of millions of “power imbalance” relationships, in this country and all around the world. I’m just guessing or spitballing, but I’ll bet that right now 80% to 85% of the relationships out there involve somewhat older, more gainfully employed guys with younger, less powerful women.
Does anyone remember the relationship described in “Don’t You Want Me, Baby“?
It seems as if the potential exists for a lot of trouble down the road, given the general #MeToo belief that older, wealthier, more economically stable guys are potential abusers, given the power-imbalance factor.
I’m not saying that multitudes of potential male abusers aren’t out there (obviously they’ve been a plague upon vulnerable women for centuries) and looking to take advantage, but power-imbalance relationships seem almost built into our species in terms of mating behavior.
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) is only three months older than Jett (born in March ’88), and as I watched him talk last night on Real Time with Bill Maher a voice was telling me that Torres is future Presidential material. Well-spoken, sensibly liberal, intelligent, very good-looking, LGBTQ, a moderate temperament.
I know next to nothing about the guy, but my gut is saying he could be Obama 2.
Torres will be old enough to run next year — he turns 35 in March ’23. If Biden’s numbers are too deep in the toilet bowl to make a successful ’24 campaign seem feasible, somebody else will have to run against Trump, and nobody wants Kamala Harris as the heir apparent. Because she’ll lose. But Torres could run and win. Seriously. The oldest President in history succeeded by the youngest…it has a ring!
African-American voters who were too homophobic to give Pete Buttigieg a chance might think twice when it comes to Torres. Do I hear support for a Torres-Buttigieg ticket? If elected they could tap Barack as a top White House honcho — a senior adviser-in-chief & permanent West Wing honcho.
The only thing that bothered me last night was when Torres said he’d never heard of Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story. A gay guy who’s never heard of a new film version of one of the biggest stage musicals of all time?
The wisest, most perceptive quotes on last night’s Real Time with Bill Maher came from author-historian Timothy Snyder (“On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century“)
“They’re thinking about winning the game. But, if you treat it as a game, at some point the other side is going to walk away and you’re not going to have a country left.”
— Real Time with Bill Maher (@RealTimers) January 22, 2022
Snyder #2: “I think any President would have a tough time with this pandemic. The longer the pandemic goes on, the harder it is for any head of state to be popular. The other thing is the laws….if the Democrats had two more senators, we’d be living in a transformed country.”
Snyder #3: “If [the United States was] a proper authoritarian regime, and [you] carried out a failed coup, something very bad would happen to you. If we were a proper rule-of-law state and you carried out a failed coup, you would be prosecuted. As happens in other democracies. And we are somewhere in between, and that’s our problem.”
On 1.14 Hollywood Reporter award-season handicapper Scott Feinberg dismissed…nay, humiliated Spider-Man: No Way Home in terms of its chances of being nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. He gave the Sony blockbuster a 19th place ranking, and thereby grouped it in with the “Longer Shots” — a Feinberg category that basically means “sorry, bruh, but you are so not happening as an awards contender.”
HE response, 1.14: “That movie is not in 19th place!! It’s in sixth or seventh place among ten. Maybe higher! Because it’s the Sony savior movie…the heart-meets-jackpot movie…the film that has lifted all spirits and raised all boats. To my way of thinking Feinberg’s spitball picks are directly a result of listening to too many elite snooties, and we know who and what I’m talking about.”
Last night Feinberg moved Spider-Man up to 17th place and into the “Possibilities” category. Progress!!
Here are the Feinberg picks that DON’T deserve to be ranked ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home. They have rung no bells with anyone (not really) and in fact are no more than mezzo-mezzo place holders:
1. Don’t Look Up (Netflix, Dec. 10). Why: Adam McKay’s radial social satire says all the right things, but too many people have found it irritating and unfunny.
2. CODA (Apple, Aug. 13). Why: It’s fine and agreeable but is basically a family sitcom with tears.
3. Tick, Tick…Boom! (Netflix, Nov. 19) Why: Grueling, agonizing, irritating.
4. Nightmare Alley (Searchlight, Dec. 17). Why: An arthouse noir slog. The only thing that really works is the ending.
5. House of Gucci (MGM/UA, Nov. 24). Why: It’s an okay family melodrama but not wild or crazy enough. Ridley’s The Last Duel is much better.
6. Drive My Car (Sideshow/Janus, Nov. 24). Why: Melancholy slog for grief monkeys. Too many cigarettes. Strictly for the hoity-toities.
7. The Hand of God (Netflix, Dec. 3). Why: Not a chance. Forget it.
8. Being the Ricardos (Amazon, Dec. 10). Why: Good, smartly written Sorkin marital-drama-meets-industry-intrigue, but not quite Ivy League…be honest.
9. The Lost Daughter (Netflix, Dec. 17). Why: The stolen doll.
Subtract these nine from Feinberg’s current list and Spider-Man No Way Home is in eighth place.