To me, Owen Wilson, whom I’ve known since ’94, will always be the Wedding Crashers guy. Or, you know, the Butterscotch Stallion. He’s only 52, but in the Disney + Loki TV series he looks like a moustachied John Slattery. Is he wearing older guy makeup? If so, fine. If not, fine. I miss the golden mane.
To me a sponge is for cleaning whatever. Soak in hot water, sprinkle liquid soap and scrub away….floors, dishes, bathroom walls, wine glasses, bicycles, pasta sauce stains on pants, etc.
“No!”, I’ve repeatedly been told by Tatiana. Different tasks require different sponges, and only a coarse animal would mix them up.
There are elite eating and drinking sponges (plates, cutlery, wine glasses, drinking glasses) and there are second-class kitchen and bathroom sink sponges. Never mix these up! A third sponge is needed to scrub the refrigerator and bathroom tub, and ideally a fourth sponge should be set aside for floor scrubbings (kitchen or living room) or walls…a floor sponge being the lowest of the low.
You can also use your coarse floor sponges to wash your car or motorcycle, but never, ever allow the eating and drinking sponges to be soiled with floor or wall dirt, and don’t even mention surfaces soiled by the great outdoors.
All this time I thought that after a sponge is soaked and cleaned with hot water, it would suffice for any cleaning purpose or surface. Because, you know, it’s been purged of all dirt and impurities. Silly me.
NHS Charities Together, a British concern, is behind a nice little ad about a Covid-afflicted Santa Claus being nursed back to health in a hospital. The 90-second spot is titled “The Gift.” It’s about love and caring, and it has a happy ending.
But a cabal of rightwing idiots and outraged parents are saying “how dare they show Santa suffering from the coronavirus!? Our kids were really upset by this. Doesn’t the NHS understand that Santa is magical and never gets sick? He just cruises around in his flying sled going ho-ho-ho….how dare they?”
I never told my kids that Santa was real. To kids indoctrinated by this silly fable, Santa means one thing and one thing only — loads of free toys. There’s nothing about the Santa legend that mentions love and kindness and charity for the less fortunate.
When I was three or four I was taken to see “the real” Santa at the original Macy’s in Herald Square. Santa has a tight schedule and a lot to prepare for so he restricts himself to Macy’s, my mother told me. “But doesn’t he live at the North Pole?” Yes, but he makes a special trip to Macy’s so children can tell him what they want for Christmas. He can’t meet everyone but he has a special feeling for Macy’s.
“What about the other Santa at Bamberger’s?” He’s not the real Santa, she explained — he’s just a helper. Santa only has time to visits Macy’s. “But what about the Santas in all the California department stores?” Helpers. “Well, what about England? Does Santa visit kids in England or just America?” (I had recently seen Brian Desmond Hurst and Alistair Sim‘s A Christmas Carol.) No, he flies to England, I was told. In fact, Santa flies there first because they’re five hours ahead of us.
Being cheap and all, I’ve never once ordered food or drink on my own dime at 21 (21 W 52nd St, New York, NY). But I’m happy and gratified to note that I attended several Peggy Siegal press luncheons there during the mid to late aughts. Great times, classic vibes, Sweet Smell of Success, the ghosts of Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, etc.
But now comes word that 21, a four-story establishment which opened in 1929, is closing down for good. Another Covid victim.
New York Post‘s Ian Mohr and Elizabeth Elizalde are reporting that the club’s 148 employees have been told that they’ll be cut loose as of early March.
Then again a 21 spokesperson has told Mohr and Elizalde that “the company is exploring potential opportunities that will allow 21 Club to remain a viable operation in the long term, while retaining its distinctive character. At this early stage, we are not ready to announce any final concept or timeframe, but the vision is that 21 Club will always remain an important social and cultural hub and icon of New York, one that is well positioned to fulfill its role in the City’s exciting future when the time comes.”
In other words they’re hoping to relaunch with new financial partners when the pandemic ends, or otherwise sell the brand outright.
Please tell me how you feel after reading Peter Suderman‘s “This Blockbuster Is Coming to a Living Room Near You,” a 12.11 opinion piece in the N.Y. Times.
If you’re at all human and north of 40, Suderman’s article will almost certainly usher in the gloom. It might even provoke stomach acid or the dry heaves. I’ve calmed down since I read it, but somewhere in the middle I was dreaming, absurdly, about running into Suderman and going all Jimmy Cagney on his ass.
There’s nothing in Suderman’s piece that’s especially new. The pandemic has all but killed theatrical, and post-vaccine there’ll be no putting the toothpaste back into the tube. Yes, theatrical has been slowly dying for years. Right now it seems as if middle-class, middle-budgeted, intended for theatrical films like Spotlight, Moneyball, Birdman, 12 Years A Slave, Call Me By Your Name, Drive, The Social Network, The Lighthouse, Zero Dark Thirty and Manchester By The Sea are becoming (or have become) all but extinct. A decade hence movie theatres will soon be regarded in the same light as Broadway theatre. Only elites will return to cinemas after the all-clear sign is given…what, nine months hence?
Before this year the only way to really savor big-screen films properly was at film festivals, at least in my view. That, at least, was something to hold onto. Right now the only safe way to go is with my 65-inch Sony 4K HDR. Then again I love being able to stream just about anything in HD or 4K these days…in that sense we’re living in a golden age. But man, I hated Silberman’s essay all the same. Or more precisely, I hated the subhead — “The next generation of event viewing is likely to look more like Game of Thrones and less like Tenet.” My pulse was racing. I was seething.
Bottom line: Suderman’s all-couches, all-streaming scenario reads like a reasonably candid assessment of what’s happened to Hollywood and exhibition over the last 10 or 11 months, and where we’re all probably headed. He’s not “wrong” but tone of the piece certainly flirts with my idea of smarmy and smug. All I could think about was Chryssie Hynde singing “My City Was Gone.”
Suderman excerpt: “The move by Warner Bros. means that even if anxiety about Covid-19 diminishes, some of the biggest movies of 2021 will no longer be exclusive theatrical engagements. Some viewers who might have ventured out to a multiplex will undoubtedly choose to stay home. And that, in turn, is another reason for those of us who love seeing movies in theaters to worry that when the pandemic ends, the theatrical experience of yesteryear will be gone.
“Theaters won’t disappear completely, but they are more likely to become rare first-class events rather than everyday experiences for the masses. To some extent, this was already happening, with comfier seating and more upscale concessions, and ticket prices rising in tandem. In the aftermath of the pandemic, moviegoing, once a Saturday-afternoon time waster and the go-to option for an inexpensive date, could become a comparatively rarefied luxury.
Peter Suderman’s reply was tweeted less than five minutes after this piece was posted.
Showbiz 411‘s Roger Friedman reported yesterday that Frank Marshall‘s BeeGee’s doc, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? (HBO, 12.12), “omits” the big-screen debacle that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the 1978 musical fantasy that was produced by Robert Stigwood, directed by Michael Schultz and starred the Brothers Gibb.
Ignoring this tragedy in the BeeGees career is like omitting the Bay of Pigs episode in a doc about JFK’s presidency.
On the day it opened (7.21.78), the L.A. Herald Examiner ran a top-of-the-page headline that read “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bomb.” Universal marketing executives hit the roof and, if I remember correctly, cancelled advertising with the paper for revenge.
I was at the all-media screening at the old Rivoli theatre (B’way at 49th). As costar Peter Frampton began to sing “The Long and Winding Road,” a guy in the first or second row yelled “Ecchh!…ecchh!” The film all but ruined Stigwood’s reputation and that of the Bee Gees, who starred along with Peter Frampton, Steve Martin, George Burns, et. al.
It’s dishonest and unprofessional to wave this episode away. Very few films have bombed as badly. You can’t “omit” this.
Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World is basically a 19th Century horseback relationship drama between a widowed Civil War veteran (Tom Hanks and a young German girl (Helena Zengel) who was taken from her parents and raised by Kiowas. Hanks’ Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who earns survival money by reading newspaper stories to small communities, struggles to deliver the girl (whose German name is Johanna) to a bumpkin aunt and uncle in southern Texas, seemingly in the vicinity of San Antonio. Difficulties abound, ornery varmints threaten, two or three rainstorms descend, physical disasters (including a blinding dust storm) keep a comin’.
Please answer (a) yes, (b) no or (c) disagree with an explanation:
1. Paul Greengrass‘s News of the World is basically a good film — sturdy, reliable, authentic, true-hearted.
2. The adjectives or phrases that come to mind are “assured,” “atmospherically authentic”, “properly attuned to the 19th Century pace of life”, “True Grit-ish” and “somewhat predictable but not in a￼ hugely problematic way.”
3. It’s a steady-groove, life-can-be-brutal, long-hard-journey thing. The performances, the screenplay (by Greengrass and Luke Davies), the cinematography and the trustworthy realism hold you.
4. Hanks’ Kidd character reminded you of Edmond O Brien’s Freeide Sykes in The Wild Bunch — yes, no, kind of, not really.
5. Hanks plays his usual patient, soft-spoken man of decency. Kidd is probably his best role and performance since…Cast Away?
6. News of the World is an entirely decent and respectable film. You can see where it’s heading from 100 miles away, but it’s the journey that counts.
A 12.10 Variety essay by Dune director Denis Villeneuve delivered a blistering response to Warner Bros.’ HBO Max all-streaming decision:
“I’ve learned…that Warner Bros. has decided to release Dune on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service. With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history.
“There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though Dune is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.
“Warner Bros.’ sudden reversal from being a legacy home for filmmakers to the new era of complete disregard draws a clear line for me. Filmmaking is a collaboration, reliant on the mutual trust of team work. Warner Bros. has declared they are no longer on the same team.
“Streaming services are a positive and powerful addition to the movie and TV ecosystems. But I want the audience to understand that streaming alone can’t sustain the film industry as we knew it before COVID. Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune’s scope and scale. Warner Bros.’ decision means Dune won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph.
“Warner Bros. might just have killed the Dune franchise. This one is for the fans. AT&T’s John Stankey said that the streaming horse left the barn. In truth, the horse left the barn for the slaughterhouse.”
From “Ringing Your Curtain Down“, posted on 10.11.20: “The reviews are correct, the rumors are true: Michelle Pfeiffer has lucked into the best role of her life in Azazel Jacobs‘ French Exit (Sony Pictures Classics, 2.12.21), a sardonic “comedy” with a gently surreal quality around the edges.
“Which means that it’s not all that surreal, or at least not to me. A talking deceased husband (Tracy Letts) inhabiting the body of a cat or cryptically conversing with his widow and son during a seance…whatever. What French Exit is really about is dry gallows humor by way of a certain kind of “I won’t back down” resignation. And within that particular realm it’s very, very good.
To me, Real Time with Bill Maher is comfort therapy. As a fellow New Jerseyan (I was painfully raised in Westfield — Maher grew up in River Vale) I understand Maher’s Irish Catholic imprint and sardonic world view. And I’m often fortified by his “New Rules” sermons. And yet, between seasons, I have to do without the show for weeks at a time. Which is distressing. It’s not the laughter but the hometown comfort factor. Season 19 kicks off on 1.15.21.
As much as I respected and went with Steve McQueen‘s Lovers Rock (Amazon Prime, 11.20), it was obvious early on that it was basically a spirited mood piece — a 68-minute film about a house party in 1980s West London…love (mainly the current between Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn), lulling vibes, singing, throbbing raggae, spicy food, etc. No story, no narrative…an agreeable “hang”.
And then I saw McQueen’s Mangrove, a gripping, well-throttled political drama which echoes and parallels Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7. I knew soon enough I was watching something utterly transporting and first-rate — a fact-based, racist-cops-vs.-neighborhood-activists drama set in late ’60s and early ’70s London, and about as fully satisfying as something like this (concluding with a courtroom drama) could be.
I decided the next day that Mangrove was my favorite 2020 film, even though Amazon has decided that it’s not an Oscar contender (although it should be).
And then I read the just-posted Sight & Sound roster of the 50 best films of 2020, and of course they’ve got Lovers Rock in the #1 slot and Mangrove at #13…naturally!
Garrett Bradley‘s Time (Amazon Prime, now streaming), an 81-minute doc about a wife fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband, serving a 60-year sentence for bank robbery, was ranked at #2. Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow has the #3 position, Charlie Kaufman‘s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is #4, and Rose Glass‘s Saint Maud is ranked fifth.
You can always rely on the Sight & Sound fraternity to convey dweeb values.
Here’s the full 50.