We’re six days away from Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Yeshua of Nazareth and of certain Christian values (love, charity, compassion for the less fortunate) spoken of in Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol, and once again we’ve been reminded what a vile cultural force rightwing Christians have become in this country. For a long time Christianity has been more or less synonymous with the values of ignorant yahoo dumbshits, and this proud tradition is now being doubled-down by rightwing media, people like Sarah Palin and at least one faith-based organization that has been defending the right of Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson to casually spew anti-gay hate speech in a GQ interview. They wouldn’t be talking about the glories of free speech if Robertson had told GQ‘s Drew Magary that he finds rightwing Christianity abhorrent and anathema to the values of genuine Christians. If the spirit and mind of Yeshua could somehow become mortal and return to the planet Earth, he would never stop throwing up. (Tip of the hat to Woody Allen.)
The Golden Globes and SAG-influenced shifting of favorites in the latest Gurus of Gold posting is nothing short of pathetic. David Poland himself tweeted that he is “stunned, though not really surprised, how much weight my esteemed fellow Gurus give SAG and GG noms in guessing Oscar noms.”
It’s a given, I think, that the mushy-minded Academy won’t support anything nervy or ballsy or envelope-pushy, like American Hustle, or some piece of jolting social criticism like 12 Years A Slave or The Wolf of Wall Street. It’ll be Banks or Gravity or…you tell me. I hate myself for having just written that. I just gave a slight assist to the bad guys!
I wrote the following on 8.24.11: “Every year I ask what could be more worthless or contemptible in the eyes of any fim lover with the slightest trickle of blood in his or her veins than a group of online journos saying, ‘What we might personally think or feel about the year’s finest films is not our charge. We are here to read and evaluate the feelings and judgments of that crowd of people standing around in that other room…see them? Those older, nice-looking, well-dressed ones standing around and sipping wine and munching on tomato-and mozzarella bruschetta? Watching them is what we do. We sniff around, sense the mood, follow their lead, and totally pivot on their every word or derisive snort or burst of applause at Academy screenings.’
“Amid a night of so many peaks, though, one raucous moment stood out: Elvis Costello, who was serving as Justin Timberlake‘s understudy, did a rendition of one of the highlights of Inside Llewyn Davis. Called ‘Please Mr. Kennedy’, the song is performed in the movie by Timberlake, Oscar Isaac and actor Adam Driver, and is a quick-tempo time capsule to 1962 that features lines about rocket ships. Onstage, Costello pleaded with the new president in song while Driver, best known for his role as Lena Dunham‘s off-and-on boyfriend in Girls, offered wickedly funny harmonies: rocket sounds, lip-blubbers, meteoric accents.” — from Randall Roberts‘ review of last night’s “Another Day, Another Time”/ Inside Llewyn Davis tribute concert at Manhattan’s Town Hall.
Inside Llewyn Davis costar Carey Mulligan during last night’s Town Hall concert.
Showtime will air the concert on Friday, 12.13 at 9 pm. Great — over two months from now.
Last Monday I tapped out a piece called “Brand Name Preferences,” and the next day I wrote some of my journalist pallies looking for responses. The two best responses came from Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil. But first a portion of my letter to these guys:
“What I wrote on Monday is a description of the essence of what’s wrong if not malignant concerning the Hollywood awards-following community — when faced with a choice between STANDING UP FOR THE REALLY WOWSER EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE THAT DESERVES AWARDS ATTENTION (at least in the early stages between now and, say, late November or better yet December) and hanging back and going “YEAH, OKAY, BUT IT WON’T WIN OR EVEN GET NOMINATED BECAUSE A FEW BRAND-NAME ACTRESSES HAVE A BETTER SHOT”, too many of you guys almost ALWAYS choose the latter. You’re birds sitting on the fence going “caw! caw! caw!”
There are at least two versions of Dick Powell‘s response upon being told that Alan Ladd had fallen in love with June Allyson, Powell’s wife, during the filming of The McConnell Story (’55). The story is that Ladd and Allyson fell hard but they never “did it,” which sounds like Allyson’s bullshit story to Powell. It seems inconceivable that Ladd would leave his wife, Sue Carol, over his Allyson entanglement without dipping his wick. Version #1 has Ladd calling Powell and saying “I’m in love with your wife,” and Powell replies “everyone is in love with my wife.” Version #2 (which comes from Allyson’s autobiography) has Carol calling Powell and asking “do you know Alan is in love with your wife, June?,” and Powell replies “isn’t everyone?”
We all like to pass along gossip and maybe embellish for effect, but Orson Welles took the cake 30 years ago when he dished about the plane-crash death of Carole Lombard to Henry Jaglom. It happened during a luncheon they shared in 1983, which Jaglom recorded and transcribed and has now shared in a book called “My Lunches With Orson” (Metropolitan, 7.16). Welles contended that the plane Lombard was flying on the night of 1.16.42 was “full of big-time American physicists” (news reports said it was full of small-time Army guys) and that the plane was shot down by “Nazi agents” and that the plane was “filled with bullet holes.”
A new “Trailers From Hell” riff on the’62 Mutiny on the Bounty summons this 8.4.06 review of a then-new Bounty DVD: “Say what you will about the ’62 Bounty — historical inaccuracies and inventions, Marlon Brando’s affected performance as Fletcher Christian, the floundering final act. The fact remains that this viscerally enjoyable, critically-dissed costumer is one of the the most handsome, lavishly-produced and beautifully scored films made during Hollywood’s fabled 70mm era, which lasted from the mid ’50s to the late ’60s.
Random drunk woman to her companions: “What is the Great Gatsby?” And then, a few seconds later: “Siri, what is the Great Gatsby?” — overheard at Hamburger Hamlet via Caroline An Stockstill, sent along to Overheard In LA, posted by Emma G. Gallegos on 5.26.
The fact that the drunken questioner was ignorant is not a problem. Asking was a constructive and intelligent act on her part. It’s the companions who didn’t know either. Think of that — not one of them had even heard that Gatsby was a fictional rich guy in the 1920s, and that he was created by a writer named F. Scott something. Not even a shard of some aspect of this information welled up in their brains. When I was 19 and drunk at 1:30 am you could have pulled me aside and said “who was Voltaire?” and I would have said, “I dunno, some French guy, writer…why?” I would have at least said that.
Last Tuesday The Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington and Alan Yuhas profiled 13 Republican senators who’ve pledged to filibuster any legislation that restricts the ability of people with dicey backgrounds to buy guns. The 13 are Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky), Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida), Sen.James Inhofe (Oklahoma), Sen. Richard Burr (North Carolina), Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyoming), Sen. Jerry Moran (Kansas), Sen. Pat Roberts (Kansas), Sen. Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Sen. Dan Coats (Indiana), Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Sen. James Risch (Idaho). Whores servicing the gun industry — plain and simple.
The most significant Sonoma Film Festival event last night (or so it seemed to me) was a Netflix-sponsored dinner, held under a large hospitality tent in the town square. The guests of honor were The Iceman costar Ray Liotta and director-cowriter Ariel Vromen. SIFF Exec Director and consummate host Kevin McNeely offered a hearty welcome. Thanks to SIFF p.r. rep Carol Marshall for inviting me up and seeing to the usual comforts.
Sonoma Film Festival exec director Kevin McNeely, The Iceman costar Ray Liotta during last night’s Netflix dinner.
SIFF programmer Steve Shor suggested the following films during my three-day stay here: Blackbird, You Will Be My Son, Monkey On My Shoulder, Terms and Conditions May Apply, The Deep, Souffle Chocolat, Lo Zucco: The Wine of the Son of the King of the French, Cover Story, The Teacher, Fierce Green Fire, Rebels With A Cause.
Mary Louise Parker and special HE friend Demian Bichir are also attending this weekend.
Netflix is now offering an ultra high-def service that’s as good if not slightly better than Bluray, a Netflix exec told me last night. The only problem is that Time Warner, my West Hollywood cable-internet provider, is one of the two companies who aren’t on board with this service. Netflix employs roughly 600 at its Los Gatos headquarters; the Beverly Hills office has about 100 staffers.
Sonoma’s flat typography is obviously bicycle-friendly. Temperatures in the 70s and low 80s, but the air cools down a bit in the evening.
I loved re-watching Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Me Softly on Bluray last week (for me that brilliant ending is almost the entire ball game), and I also kind of loved that Dominik was not especially gregarious during our phoner. By this I mean he wasn’t the least bit affected. He apparently doesn’t like interviews and after a fashion was simply being copping to this.
I was shocked by that unusually harsh Cinemascore grade that Killing Me Softly got when it opened last December. It deserved at least a little more love than it got, which amounted to $15,026,056 domestic and $35,583,240 worldwide.
And I apologize for either forgetting or being ignorant about Dominik’s possible next project, a Marilyn Monroe biopic “starting at age 7 and ending with her death,” as he put it. It would be an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates‘ Blonde, a script for which Dominik began writing in 2009 without locking down the rights.
Here, again, is our brief phoner.
You could be cruel and unfair and say that Taylor Swift‘s comments in a just-published Vanity Fair interview indicate that the 23 year-old singer is (a) a bit of a hair-trigger personality and (b) not exactly an embodiment of the phrase “still water runs deep.” One look at those shopping-mall eyes and you know she has a long way to go. But then so do most 23 year-olds.
I was reminded that the folks behind the reportedly forthcoming musical biopic Girls Like Us — director-producer Katie Jacobs, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Elisabeth Cantillon — are (let’s be polite) greatly mistaken if, as I’ve read, they’ve actually cast Swift to play Joni Mitchell, of all people.
The idea of choosing a notoriously shallow lightweight to play one of the most gifted and influential poet-musicians of the 20th Century almost feels like some kind of sarcastic “fuck you” to the culture of the ’60s and ’70s that produced Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. These legends (an overworked term except here it actually applies) are the subjects of the film as well as Sheila Weller‘s 2008 book, which is the basis of John Sayles‘ screenplay.
What would be analogous to the Swift-Mitchell casting? Tony Curtis being chosen in 1952 or ’53 to star in a biopic of John Barrymore in his theatrical heyday? Early ’90s Pauly Shore being cast as Will Rogers or Groucho Marx? The mind reels, flops around like a flounder.