RegionalFriendo: “Just saw TopGun: Maverick…holy shit, that last act! Someone’s seen and plagiarized [a film released in 1977]!
RegionalFriendo: “Wow…the hard-to-hit target, the steep mountain run [equals vulnerable target in ’77 film], even down to [Maverick costar repeating exactly what costar of ’77 film did during a big climactic action moment]. Five fucking Maverick writers to come up with that?”
HE: “As I’ve written, I would have respected it more if they’d followed the ending of TheBridgesatToko Ri (’54).”
RegionalFriendo: “No way that was gonna happen. Too much money to make back.”
HE: “It would have hit home if they’d both died.”
RegionalFriendo: “It’s not that kinda film. The audience would’ve revolted.”
HE: “‘Not that kinda film’? You sound like Jerry Bruckheimer.”
RegionalFriendo; “I’m just telling you like it is
It’s exactly a JB film…it’s an audience film, not for Oscars. No studio would have green-lighted a film in which Cruise AND Teller die in the end.
It is what it is.”
All films set in the past or in fantasy realms have adhered to certain ways of speaking for the good and bad guys. Generally speaking villains allied with or backed by powerful forces tend to sound more disciplined and mannered in a high-class way than their underdog victims.
In Stanley Kubrick‘s Spartacus (’60), for example, the slaves were played by proletariat types with American accents while the Romans were played by British actors or distinguished college-dean types.
Likewise, in the Star Wars realm the classic approach has been (at least back in the old days) that the Empire baddies have sounded like officious, cultured British elites, or at least like people who went to expensive prep schools.
I’m going, of course, by the example set 45 years ago by Peter Cushing‘s Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars (’77).
Billy Dee Williams‘s Lando Calrissian sounded like a smooth American hustler, of course, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But it wouldn’t have worked as well if Williams had been cast as an Empire villain.
I don’t care who plays who in Disney+’s Obi Wan Kenobi series, but I can half-understand why some might say that a female Empire villain shouldn’t sound like a tough Baltimore girl. She should sound like a RADAinstructor or a seniorofficial with British Airways or a Whitehallbureaucrat of some kind.
I just think it’s fair to mention the pattern established by Cushing and others in the old days. Otherwise I couldn’t care less and I’m certainly not going to argue about it.
“Beauty is a short-lived tyranny” is one of the truest statements about beauty ever spoken or written. It was mentioned the other day by Joe Rogan while discussing Amber Heard, but it’s an observation that goes back to Socrates.
It means one thing and one thing only: When you’re young and considered beautiful (or, in dude terms, unusually good-looking), you have a great deal of temporary power. It only lasts for 10 or 15 years, 20 at the outside. Once your peak beauty factor fades you naturally have to rely on what you have inside or what you’ve learned in terms of skills and wisdom and whatnot. But when everyone loves your face and physique, you have the power of a modest tyrant.
Most guys are fairly honest about this. I was relatively fetching in my 20s and 30s, and I knew that my looks were a help as far as landing job interviews and meeting women, etc. I was too insecure and miserable in my early to mid 20s to take advantage of this, but in my late 20s and 30s I had a batting average of at least .400, which is pretty good considering that in the ’70s and ’80s (perhaps the greatest nookie era in American history) nobody was batting .1000 or even .750.
Ask most women to define beauty and nine times out of ten they’ll say something along the lines of this Audrey Hepburn quote: “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”
To that I say fine, but as Stanley Kowalski once said, “I never met a dame yet who didn’t know she was good looking or not without being told.”
An observation from 2011: “In the age of Botox and plastic surgery, beauty can be a much longer-lived tyranny than Socrates first believed.
“To men, the tyranny of beauty is all the things they do to entice it, capture it, and keep it, only to find that, like a flower, it only lasts so long.
“To women, the tyranny of beauty is the effort and time (and, often, no small amount of pain) required to be considered beautiful for as long as they can, by staving off the inevitable effects of aging.”
The official credit for the Crimson Tide screenplay was owned by Michael Schiffer (story by Schiffer and Richard P. Henrick). But the flavor, pizazz and cultural oomph came from three pinch-hitters — Robert Towne (the stateroom Von Clauzewitz scene), Quentin Tarantino (the references to Scotty and Star Trek warp speed and Kirby being the dominant artist of the Silver Surfer comic books) and Steven Zallian.
These three are the only ones I know about…there may have been others. But they primarily served as sauciers rather than heavy-lifting screenwriters.
“A few months earlier I’d laughed hard at Quentin Tarantino‘s ‘go the way way’ riff in Sleep With Me (’94), in which he discussed a struggling-with-homosexuality undercurrent in Top Gun. So I proposed to Don and Jerry that they should reach out to gay moviegoers by re-marketing all their films as secret gay movies that were fraught with homosexual themes and iconography (i.e., the phallic-shaped submarines in Tide).
“Bruckheimer froze with a grin on his face but Simpson smirked and kicked it around.
“When I asked them to sign my Crimson Tide script at the end of our chat, Simpson suggested that the gay subcurrent thing was more in my head than in their films.”
Wikipage: “It began construction on 3.17.30; and was structurally completed on 4.11.31, twelve days ahead of schedule. It cost $40,948,900 to build (equivalent to $571,725,100 in 2020), including demolition of the old Waldorf–Astoria. This was lower than the $60 million budgeted for construction.”
The Empire State Building officially opened on 5.1.31, 45 days ahead of its projected opening date.
Less than two years later, King Kong had ascended to the top of the building and then fallen to his death. [The RKO film opened on 3.2.33.]
Klein: “We are richer than we were then, and our technology far outpaces what was available in 1930. And yet does anyone seriously believe such a project would take a year today?”
Bradley Cooper‘s Maestro (Netflix), a biopic about legendary composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein, only began shooting this month. It will almost certainly open during the fall Oscar season of 2023, as it is obviously Oscar-bait plus and Cooper’s makeup after his direction of A Star Is Bornfailed to land a Best Director nomination in early ’19.
With Maestro we’re talking Best Picture (produced by Cooper, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Todd Phillips, et. al.), Best Director and Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s wife of 27 years, the half-Chilean Felicia Cohn Montealegre), Best Original Screenplay (Cooper, Josh Singer) and so on down the line. Jeremy Strong costars as John Gruen.
The main dramatic meat, I’m presuming, will be about Bernstein’s conflicted emotional and sexual life. He was a gay man who was at least partly motivated to marry Felicia (whom he cared for and had three kids with) “to dispel rumors about his private life to help secure a major conducting appointment, following advice from his mentor Dimitri Mitropoulos about the conservative nature of orchestra boards.”
A longtime heavy smoker, Bernstein had developed emphysema beginning in his mid 50s (i.e., mid 1970s). He died in 1990 at age 72.
Variety‘s Clayton Davis recently tweeted that he was a bit perturbed about Mulligan playing Felicia because a Brit shouldn’t play a Chilean or Costa Rican. One, upscale Chileans are “light-skinned mestizos of Southern European appearance,” according to ContactChile.com. Two, Felicia’s dad was U.S. mining executive Roy Elwood Cohn. Three, look at the below photo of the real Felicia at the 1970 “Radical Chic” Black Panther party that she and Lenny hosted. Does she resemble anyone in particular?
The Von Clausewitz stateroom discussion (written by Robert Towne) is the best, not just because of the writing and acting (James Gandolfini glaring like a timber wolf) and the general sense of control-under-pressure, but the Han Zimmer score underlining the importance of what’s being said. And there’s no beating the mutiny scene either, not to mention that final dress-white finale, and the way Scott cuts on those salutes.
With the exception of Richard Lester‘s brilliant, formula-free Juggernaut (’74), ’70s disaster films were very dependably about chaos, destruction and death. Audiences knew that a significant portion of a given ensemble cast would die, and so the head-trip game was (a) who do you want to see die for your own reasons? vs. (b) who actually fucking dies.
In the case of Ronald Neame‘s The Poseidon Adventure (’72), nobody wanted Gene Hackman to croak but everyone wanted RedButtons to die as quickly as possible. Naturally Buttons survived and Hackman didn’t. Everyone wanted Arthur O’Connell dead, and thank God he submitted. Everyone knew Shelley Winters would die because she was overweight (a bad thing in the ’70s, long before the body-positive movement), and that Stella Stevens, playing a former prostitute, would make it to the finish line because she was married to the loud-mouthed Ernest Borgnine (a cop), and therefore deserved God’s grace. But no — Stevens bought the farm along with Winters. Nobody wanted Roddy McDowall to die because he was witty and resourceful, and of course he didn’t make it either.
The only adults who lived were Borgnine, Buttons, Carol Lynley and Jack Albertson (Winters’ husband). Two youthful and inconsequential nothing-burgers, played by Pamela Sue Martin and Eric Shea, also survived. Why did they have to kill bigfoot Hackman?
I was informed today that on 5.29 I wrote the wrong opinion about the Depp-Heard defamation trial. “They both lied, they’re both guilty,” I said. “It was just a bad marriage that turned ugly, to a significant extent due to Johnny’s drinking and drugging.”
I wrote that as one who had a vodka-and-lemonade problem in the early to mid ’90s and to a lesser extent in the early aughts due to nightly wine-sipping, I know for a fact that unless you’re Peter Pan or Mickey Mouse or Tom Hanks in Big the proverbial demon can emerge when alcohol is influencing your system and that harsh marital arguments…well, they’re rarely good for anyone’s mental health but you always want to argue sober. I know that much.
“No”, I was told this morning. “It’s NOT true that both are guilty. She is lying and he is not. Your judgment is colored by your experience as an alcoholic. This is not that. You are coming from a place of bias and ignorance,” etc.
I’ve watched many Depp-Heard trial excerpts, and I think I understand what the basic dynamic is. If there’s one thing I know it’s that in any failed relationship there’s never just one bad guy.
“There is nothing fun about domestic violence. There is nothing fun about sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. The #MeToo movement, like the George Floyd uprisings in the early summer of 2020, put power in the hands of victims of sexual abuse to finally be heard. It was no doubt a direct response to the election of Donald Trump in 2016, because the first stories of sexual harassment and abuse started back then. I participated in a N.Y. Times article that preceded the #MeToo movement in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein saga.
“However, in both the Me Too movement and the Social Justice revolution of 2020, there came a time when the reckoning was weaponized. The #MeToo movement became a tool of power for victims, mostly women, to accuse anyone of anything and be believed, no matter what. In fact, to not believe them was and is considered a moralcrime. The idea that we must “believe all women” created an environment where due process and presumption of innocence vanished. In their place, instant guilt and punishment rendered, just by the accusation itself.
“The first time I noticed something had gone very wrong with the #MeToo movement was the forced resignation of then Senator Al Franken. I still have never gotten over it and it’s one of the reasons I am no longer a Democrat (I am a non-affiliated voter at the moment). Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders all joined in to push him out with no due process. I knew the accusations against him were lies and distortions. But it didn’t matter. He was now guilty in the court of public opinion.
“I have put myself in the crosshairs of defending men who have been, I think, wrongly accused. Since the Franken accusations, I have regarded accusations against men at a time of weaponized power critically. I never simply believe women. Or anyone. But when I am asked to ‘believe’ something that comes way too close to organized religion, no thanks. I will listen and assess. But I will speak up if I find the hive mind on Twitter has it wrong or is enacting unfair punishment.
“Anyone who knows me knows this about me. I hate bullies. I hate seeing people bullied. It is my one trigger. I will always defend people whom I believe are being attacked unfairly. Whether it’s Ansel Elgort or Joe Biden or Nate Parker or my own friends — no matter what I receive in exchange for doing that, keeping my head down and saying nothing isn’t my thing.
“The Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial is Me Too’s own reckoning, or rather, those institutions and hive minds that punish people who are falsely accused. The agonizing think pieces that have bloomed in the wake of the trial — I can’t even bear to google them — are worse for the #MeToo movement than even a verdict that sides with Depp. Because the whole world [has seen that] Heard was lying. That means that the activists are demanding allegiance to a concept that supports and defends liars. That means any time a woman accuses someone and everyone goes along with it, without due process, everyone’s credibility is out the window.
“How can anyone ask the public to side with someone who so obviously is not telling the truth? How do I know she is not telling the truth? Because Johnny Depp’s lawyers have proven their case. It’s as simple as that. Camille Vasquez’s cross examination of Amber Heard the second time she took the stand was devastating to Heard. She never should have taken the stand that second time. The only reason she did it is because she always has to try to destroy Depp. He testified a second time and explained what this trial had done for him, so she had to take the stand a second time. But for her, she had to meet with Vasquez who was not holding back in her confrontation of Heard’s side of the story.