Does anyone know anything about David O. Russell’s untitled 1930s flick, which has been shooting for several weeks and may have wrapped? I know someone who worked as background actor a few weeks ago, but they didn’t know much. Wiki logline: “A doctor and a lawyer form an unlikely partnership.”
The 20th Century release (slated for ’22) boasts a big-name cast — Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola.
I haven’t re-watched Russell’s I Heart Huckabees since it opened 15 and 1/2 years ago (10.1.04). Now that it’s in my head, I might just do that.
Review excerpt: “Huckabees shot right through my skull on Wednesday night and came out like some cosmic effusion and just sort of hung there above my head like a low-altitude cloud and sprinkling light rain.
“That sounds too tranquil. A movie this funny and frantic and this totally off-the-planet (and yet strangely inside the whole universal anxiety syndrome that we all live with day to day) can’t be that cosmically soothing. That’s not the idea.
“But it is soothing…that’s the weird thing. Huckabees makes you laugh fairly uproariously, but it leaves you in a spiritual place that feels settled and well-nourished. Variety‘s David Rooney said it was ‘largely an intellectual pleasure with a hollow core.’ Rooney has probably never been wronger in his life. Not because he isn’t smart or perceptive, but because he failed to do a very important thing.
He didn’t see Huckabees twice.
“This is one of those rare movies in which you have to double-dip it. You obviously don’t have to take my advice. Go ahead and just see it once and then say to yourself, “Well, that happened!” Just understand that Huckabees is, I feel, too dense and arch with too much going on to fully get it in one sitting.
“On one level it’s a kind of psychobabble satire; on another it’s the most profoundly spiritual Hollywood film since Groundhog Day. And the amazing-ness of it may not come together in your head…if at all.
“That’s how the first viewing happened, at least. I was initially into it on a ‘whoa…what was that?’ level and for the antsy, pedal-to-the-metal pacing…but it goes beyond that. The first time is the eye-opener, the water-in-the-face, the violent lapel-grabbing; the second time is da bomb.
“There’s something else that Rooney probably couldn’t help when he wrote his review. I’m guessing he’s not really a ‘blanket’ kind of guy. Blanket acceptance is what this film is about (and is what passing through the doors of illumination usually entails…you can’t reason your way into a Godhead realization).
“Huckabees is about the blanket, and you either get this and it makes you laugh and turns you on at the same time. Or it doesn’t and you don’t.
“Imagine sitting in a theatre and laughing in a half-chuckling, half-hysterical way. And mulling over some basic tenets of eastern mysticism at the same time. And also feeling amazed and throttled by the most relentlessly verbal machine-gun Hollywood comedy since His Girl Friday. And also doing that outboard-motor thing against your lower lip with your right index and middle fingers and going ‘bee, bee, bee, bee, bee…”
“Huckabees is about movie stars and laughs and hyper-energy, but boiled down to basics it’s essentially about a philosophical feud between two schools of thought — one that says life is perfect, harmonious and essentially divine, and one that says that life is merely a series of random and disconnected occurrences that are more often than not painful, and sometimes much worse.
“The more positive alpha view is articulated and passed along by an existential detective agency run by Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin). The darker, more nihilist approach is espoused by Isabelle Huppert’s Caterine Vauban, a former colleague of the Jaffes who’s crossed over to the dark side like Annakin Skywalker.
“The guy in the middle of these two factions is an environmental activist named Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman). First he goes to the Jaffe’s for help in sorting out his life, then he takes up with Huppert (an alliance that carries a side benefit of great mud sex), and then…I’m not spilling the ending.
“The Jaffes quickly discover that Albert’s troubles are mainly stemming from a rivalry with a shithead executive named Brad Stand (Jude Law) who works for a retail chain store called Huckabees. Albert is pissed at Brad for challenging his authority as the head of an environmental activist outfit called the Open Spaces Coalition group. Albert is fervently anti-development when it concerns marshlands and whatnot while dickhead Brad is pro-development and pro-greed.
“Then, weirdly, Brad hires the Jaffes to look into his own life. This in turn leads to his girlfriend Dawn (Naomi Watts), Huckabees’ sexy spokesperson/model, to hire the Jaffes to look into her life, which leads to her refusing to play the sexpot and to exploring her inner infinite self, an exercise that involves shunning makeup and wearing an Amish bonnet.
“Albert eventually becomes disillusioned with the Jaffes and hooks up with a philosophically-driven firefighter named Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), another client of the Jaffes who’s drifted over to Vauban’s way of thinking. For a while they’re a kind of threesome, but then Tommy gets cut out of the equation. He rebounds when he couples with Dawn during a rescue mission at her home. For him (and unlike Law), her bonnet is totally cool.
“Does I Heart Huckabees get you emotionally? No…and yet, the more you let it in and the longer you think about it, yeah.
“Wahlberg gives my favorite Huckabees performance (he’s really good as conveying that frenzied-spiritual-seeker quality), but the entire cast is fairly killer. They all do amazing stuff, and there are all kinds of fine actors (the great Richard Jenkins, for one) giving great supporting perfs.
“Schwartzman has finally tied into a role as good as ‘Max’ in Rushmore, and hail to that. Jason’s a very spirited and likable fellow. I’ve been running into him at parties and restaurants and whatnot going back to the Rushmore days.
“Russell told the New York Times that I Heart Huckabees is an “all-in existential meditation.” You will go into this movie as one person, and come out a little less regimented, a little more free. In the final analysis any film that makes you want to find spiritual clarity or satori is, I think, a good thing. Or don’t you agree?”