A 1930s Phillip Marlowe noir in the traditional vein of Dick Richards’ Farewell My Lovely (‘75) with none other than Liam Neeson in the title role? It won’t rock theatrical (strictly aimed at GenX and boomer types), but I adore the gesture of it all…the old-time vibe.
Last night I finally watched Claire Denis‘s Both Sides of the Blade (Avec amour et acharnement).
Written by Denis and Christine Angot, it’s basically about a marriage between a long-of-tooth Parisian couple — Juliette Binoche‘s “Sara” and Vincent Lindon‘s “Jean” — coming apart at the seams because of wifey’s decision to start fucking an ex-boyfriend (Gregoire Colin‘s “Francois”).
It’s Jean’s fault, in a way, for going into an athletic-talent-spotting business with Francois. Jean knows Francois and Sara’s romantic history, but as an ex-con he’s looking to build his life up again with a sport-related enterprise.
Anyway, Jean smells the Sara-Francois vibe before long, Sara lies to Jean with absolute conviction, and eventually it all blows the hell up.
The weird part is that Francois is significantly younger (Colin was born in ’75) than Sara, who looks late 50ish (as Binoche is). And Jean is in his early ’60s (as Lindon is). If you ask me Binoche and Lindon are only a few years away from being too old for this shit.
Plus we realize toward the end that Francois is selfish and a bit coarse (during his first assignation with Sara he suddenly wants anal without lube or foreplay). This tells us that Sara is foolish — a bad judge of character — on top of being a lying infidel.
There’s also a pointless, credibility-straining subplot about Jean having an alienated black son named Marcus (Issa Perica), which I completely ignored. One, the Marcus subplot was obviously inserted to satisfy the woke thing. And two, Jean and Marcus don’t resemble each other in the slightest. Complete bullshit.
Both Sides of the Blade isn’t half bad, but all it leaves you with is “dudes, don’t marry a conniving liar.”
Is there a reason why the Wikipedia and IMDB pages for Greg Mottola‘s Confess, Fletch (Paramount, 9.16) refuse to mention that the film was at least partly shot in Rome? That’s the only aspect that has me going.
I was watching the trailer and going “uhm-hmm, yeah, okay” when all of a sudden there was Jon Hamm sitting at an outdoor cafe in either Piazza Navona or Campo de Fiori. Bingo!
The youngest guy in the principal cast (Roy Wood, Jr.) is 44 years old — that tells you something. Hamm’s GenX costars include Marcia Gay Harden, Kyle MacLachlan, Roy Wood, Jr. and John Slattery.
Originally posted on 12.14.20 (five weeks after Biden’s election, three weeks before attack on U.S. Capitol): I never knew any Vinnie Barbarino or Tony Manero “borough” types in the mid ’70s, but I’d known a few Italian-American guys during my painful upbringing in Westfield, New Jersey. They proudly called themselves “guineas”, wore pegged pants and pointy black leather lace-ups, radiated pugnacious vibes and seemed to live in their own angry little world.
And I knew that the bridge-and-tunnel chumps who came into Manhattan on weekends in the late ’70s, the ones who were too thick to realize that their chances of getting into Studio 54 were completely nil…those razor-cut slash polyester goons who radiated sartorial cluelessness in so many ways, and thereby indicating a certain myopic mindset…I knew these guys.
And so I believed Nik Cohn‘s “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” the 6.7.76 New York cover story that soon became the basis for Robert Stigwood and John Badham‘s Saturday Night Fever, which became a huge hit and cultural earth-shaker after opening on 12.14.77.
I loved the 2001 Odyssey dance sequences as much as the next guy, but I wasn’t a fan of the film itself, largely because I found John Travolta‘s Tony Manero an impossible asshole — chilly, closed off.
Yes, I know — that was who and what he was, being based on the “Vincent” character Cohn had written about and so on. But where was it written that I had to like Manero’s company?
I bought a ticket to see Badham’s film at Westport’s Post Cinema just before Christmas of ’77. I wanted to have an interesting and perhaps an eye-opening time, but almost immediately I was saying to myself “I have to hang out with this asshole?” On top of which FUCK DISCO…that was one of my foundational beliefs at the time.
What a shock, therefore, to discover 20 years later that Cohn had basically “piped” the New York cover story. He’d done a little research in Bay Ridge and poked around and talked to a few locals, but had more or less made it up.
And yet Cohn’s article felt genuine. I totally recognized (or felt that I recognized) his observations about a certain strata of young, under-educated Italian-American guys in their late teens and early 20s and their dead-end jobs and whatnot…it seemed to convey certain basic impressions of borough guys of that era. I bought it and so did Hollywood, Stigwood, Badham, Travolta and, down the road, tens of millions of fans of the film.
It just went to show that fiction could masquerade as honest reportage and vice versa. I re-read Cohn’s piece last night after watching the Bee Gees doc, and I had a good time with it. Even knowing about Cohn having admitted the truth in ’96, I bought it all the same. Good writing is good writing.
I’ve just discovered Mo, a week-old Netflix comedy series about a pot-bellied, never-say-die Palestinian refugee without a passport or citizenship papers (standup comic Mohammed Amer) and trying to get traction in the Houston area.
Loosely based on Amer’s rough-and-tumble experience in this country, the series is co-written by Amer and Ramy Youssef (Hulu’s Ramy). It’s a fast-paced, character-rich, highly regarded show with fleet dialogue and a humanistic streak.
Who turned me on to Mo? Veteran hotshot comedian Bill Dawes, a supremely impudent, Irish-American, Bill Burr-like actor-comedian who costars in Mo (starting in episode #5).
Onstage Dawes constantly pokes the woke Stalinist bear. A brash, witty, good-looking, unapologetic, unabashedly heterosexual, tired-of-all-this-shit funny guy…one of the comics who don’t share the Hannah Gadsby aesthetic, or who certainly occupy the opposite end of the spectrum with agreeable servings of spunk, verve and fearlessness.
Dawes to HE Netflix readers: Push the LOVE THIS button so we’ll get renewed for season #2.
Note: I’m personally too stupid to figure how to find much less push this fucking button, but I’m sure most HE readers will be able to ace it.
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- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »