In Matt Ruskin‘s Boston Strangler (Hulu, 3.17), Boston Record-American reporters Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) combat sexism and corruption among fellow Boston journalists and within the police ranks in order to investigate a serial killer who later became known as the Boston Strangler. Mclaughlin and Cole have to fight tooth and nail, but their diligence gradually prevails.
In Ali Abbasi‘s Holy Spider, journalist Arezoo Rahimi (Zar Amir Ebrahimi) arrives in the Iranian Holy City of Mashhad to investigate several murders of local street prostitutes. She uncovers evidence that suggests a serial killer, but her hunches are not taken seriously by male journalists and policemen. Cultural misiogyny blocks or restrains at every turn, but by posing as a prostitute and placing herself in danger Rahimi manages to identify and incriminate the killer, Saeed Hanaei (Mehdi Bajestani). Soon after police arrest him.
So that’s a major, get-outta-here ixnay on Quills, a kind of grumpy wave-away when it comes to AboutSchmidt and a thanks-but-no-thanks in the matter of VanillaSky, Donnie Darko and AmericanPsycho, and I can’t even remember Bully and Igby Goes Down. But approvals for the other eleven, and especially for SexyBeast and Adaptation.
My honest opinion of Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) is that he was always an engaging actor and sometimes an extraordinary one, but his performances began to feel overly neurotic and mannered when he hit his late 30s, or roughly from ’64 onward. His best period began with Mr. Roberts (’55) and ended with The Fortune Cookie (’66) — an eleven-year stretch. His peak years amounted to only four — Operation Mad Ball (’57) to Some Like It Hot (’59) and The Apartment (’60).
Posted on 9.8.19: “Lemmon was the hottest guy in Hollywood after starring in the one-two punch of Some Like It Hot (’59) and The Apartment (’60), both directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. Because the latter mixed ascerbic humor and frankly sexual situations, Lemmon was offered almost nothing but frothy sex comedies for five years following The Apartment.
The only decent film he made during this period was Blake Edwards‘ Days of Wine and Roses (’62).
“The sex comedies were The Wackiest Ship in the Army (’60), The Notorious Landlady (’62), Irma la Douce (’63, minor Wilder), Under the Yum Yum Tree (’63), Good Neighbor Sam (’64) and How To Murder Your Wife (’65). He also costarred that year in The Great Race, a period costume comedy about arch humor, empty artifice and scenic splendor.
“Lemmon finally broke out of that shallow, synthetic cycle with Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie (’66). Not grade-A Wilder but certainly half-decent, and a great boost for Walter Matthau. And then Luv, The Odd Couple, The April Fools, The Out-of-Towners, Kotch, Avanti! and Save the Tiger. And then he hit another wall with Wilder’s The Front Page.
“The Lemmonisms are all over Save The Tiger (’72), but five or six scenes in that film are true and on-target, and that ain’t hay. His performance in The China Syndrome also made me snap to attention. Ditto Ed Horman in Missing.”
I relate to the Lemmon profile in David Thomson‘s “The New Biographical Dictionary of Film” (2002 edition), page 513:
“I have to confess that sometimes one squeeze of Lemmon is enough to set my teeth on edge. There’s no doubt that, as a younger actor, Lemmon could be very funny. He is very skilled, meticulous and yet — it seems to me — an abject, ingratiating parody of himself.
“Long ago worry set in. The detail of his work turned fussy, nagging and anal. His mannerisms are now like a miser’s coins. There have been a few films — like James Foley‘s Glengarry Glen Ross (’92) — that used this demented worryguts as necessary material. And Lemmon is very good in that film. But far too often, he stops his own roles and starts preaching anxiety, leading everything away from life and into the jitters.”
Last night some neo-Nazi hooligans protested the first preview performance of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry‘s Parade, a 1998 historical musical that’s being revived at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre (242 West 45th Street).
It dramatizes the trial, imprisonment and lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent who was falsely convicted of the murder of a 13-year-old employee, Mary Phagan, in 1913 Atlanta. After his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1915, Frank was seized by an anti-Semitic mob and hanged from a tree in Marietta, Georgia — Phegan’s home town.
Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) plays Frank in the stage revival. Last night he posted a statement about the anti-Semitic protest.
I don’t have much interest in catching Parade, but this morning I was recalling my one and only viewing of Mervyn LeRoy‘s They Won’t Forget, a 1937 drama based on the same tragedy.
Pic was based on Ward Greene‘s “Death in the Deep South,” a fictionalized account of the Frank case. It starred Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris and — in her feature debut — Lana Turner.
For decades LeRoy successfully functioned as a smooth and dependable house director of big-studio features — The Wizard Of Oz (partially — Victor Fleming received credit), Thirty seconds Over Tokyo, Little Women, Any Number Can Play, Quo Vadis?, Million Dollar Mwemaid, Mister Roberts, No Time for Sergeants, The FBI Story, The Devil at 4 O’Clock, A Majority of One, Gypsy. But he made his best films in the early to mid ’30s — Little Ceasar, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and They Won’t Forget.
Consider how LeRoy concluded Forget‘s lynching scene — not with a literal depiction but a snagging of a mail sack as a train speeds by. That’s John Ford-level expressionism.
Last Sunday (2.19) Variety‘s Clayton Davis was entertaining a notion that the DGA bounce for Everything Everywhere All At Once had immediately stalled following BAFTA having more or less blown it off by giving most of their organizational love to All Quiet on the Western Front. The Best Picture situation, he felt, was suddenly “up in the air.”
World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy was immediately skeptical. He’s as much of an EEAAO hater as myself, but is also striving for a little straight-from-the-shoulder.
“I don’t think the BAFTA [aftermath] changes much in the Oscar race. It’s still EEAAO’s Oscar to lose. Yes, the UK voting bloc is fairly pronounced within the Academy, but I don’t believe we should take last night’s EEAAO snubbing as total gospel.
“The [unfortunate] fact of the matter is that the Academy has decided to be heavily influenced by Film Twitter this year, and thereby get sucked into the EEAAO bandwagon.
“This is still a three-film [dynamic] between EEAAO, The Banshees of Inisherin and Top Gun: Maverick. But what we need right now is love sweet love….that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of”…kidding!
Actual Ruimy statement: “What we need right now is for Everything Everywhere to lose at the Producers Guild of America” — the Daryl F. Zanuck award (the org’s equivalent of a Best Picture trophy) at the PGA awards, which will happen on Saturday, 2.25.
I know God doesn’t hate me personally. I know He doesn’t give a damn one way or the other, and certainly doesn’t believe in placing any thumbs on the scale. But I am nonetheless on my knees and begging Him/Her/It to somehow step in and prevent this horrific scenario from happening.