Pullquote political correspondent Carlos has reemerged post-midterm elections to share the following headscratcher from Hizzoner:
Movie Review: “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” (-)
Like every Woody Allen cult fan, I have seen all his movies. I’ll continue to do so although, regrettably, it appears his days of making great films are over.
The script of Allen’s latest picture sucks. More than a half-dozen people are involved in intimate relationships, but none of those interactions were profound enough to affect my emotions. Although the cast includes outstanding actors, their artistic abilities are not displayed in this movie.
Roy (Josh Brolin) is a failed novelist married to Sally (Naomi Watts). Sally is the daughter of Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) who heretofore divorced Helena (Gemma Jones). Alfie is looking for sexual excitement which he seems to have found in Charmaine (Lucy Punch) a former prostitute whom he marries. The actor who made the least impression on me was Antonio Banderas in the role of Greg, Sally’s boss.
As I have written before when reviewing Allen’s movies, I had the pleasure of appearing in his terrific 1989 picture, “New York Stories,” in which I played myself as mayor at the time. Woody and I have grown old together and, I believe, have reached our career heights at the same time, although he is 75 and I am 85. Statistically, 50 percent of Americans over the age of 85 suffer from some form of dementia, the worst being the degenerative Alzheimer’s. We are fortunate in that neither of us is suffering from dementia. We continue to enjoy our work and are capable of performing our professions. His bad films excel the best of many noted filmmakers, and I hope my reviews and commentaries continue to interest my readers.
I saw the picture at the Angelika Film Center located at 18 West Houston Street.
Henry Stern said: “I too have been a Woody Allen fan for years. He has basically written and directed a film every year since 1969, sometimes two. His movies were considered New York chic, often based on psychoanalysis, and appealed to the crowd that used to go to the New Yorker and Thalia theaters. I like those people. They elected me to the City Council in 1973 and 1977. Somebody has to believe the Rosenbergs were innocent. We are all getting older and perhaps less demanding, but I rather liked Tall Dark Stranger, except for the off-putting title, which is unwieldy. The movie was lively, the players were very good, the plot was ridiculous but so are most operas, that’s not why you see them. I enjoyed the London scenery, the interactions of the characters, the combination of stodginess and absurdity in their semi-British behavior. For me, the movie ended too soon.”
So much muchness! On to another New York story, this one about uber-WASPy UHB director Whit Stillman's long awaited latest. It's been making the rounds, but it's such a wonderfully written profile that I'd feel remiss not drawing your attention to it. A taste here, but the whole thing is delicious:
Stillman likes Dunkin’ Donuts; it’s another well-run institution, and unpretentious besides. What Whit Stillman is not is someone who’s about to pay $25 for a Cobb salad; who cares if it has lobster and mango-pineapple dressing? His cheapness seems at odds with his plaid blazer, but a plaid blazer, in Stillman’s world, is not about money. Like the characters in his films, he also seems to inhabit a special space, a space he created—a Jet Blue of spaces, where people quote directors from the 1930s and are inspired by Balzac novels, and where plaid blazers are as all-purpose as three-packs of white T-shirts. Besides, saving money these days has become a pathology: He’s found he can save money by ordering an espresso and adding milk from the canteens over by the sugar, napkins, and swizzle sticks. It’s a latte with a slight detour. Potential places to meet are the library and Bryant Park; both are free, as is the cachet of the front of the Harvard Club. Each dollar Stillman saves will expand his movie budget by a dollar.
This next one's on the hush-hush, as it were. Get a gander while you can.
A final link for which I forget the provenance, which is probably for the best. It's called "WTF: Taking on Manohla and the NYTimes." Its author says, "I find fault with her not because we disagree about the film’s quality, but because I have no idea WTF she’s talking about." He has not read Walter Benjamin or Laura Mulvey and takes exception that Manohla Dargis has and moreover has the temerity to incorporate references to each writer's most lauded essay, respectively, in a review of Tiny Furniture. Mr. WTF again: "It’s a movie review, Manohla, not a Ph.D. thesis. You come across less as a critic than as someone showing off." Heaven forfend! Let's hear it for the new anti-intellectual philistinism! Much better reviewers write down than you read up.
It's only natural that would eventually translate into the burnished respectability of the panel discussion, right? Except no – not at all. Admittedly, I don't entirely share the enthusiasm about it in the first place, which may not help. Is it funny? Of course – no one smiles more fondly than me at the memory of Ferrell's adoption of the new-fangled craze of "yogging". But let's face it, it's no Zoolander, and – here's the crux of the matter – even if it were, the fact it's been elevated into a filmic landmark worthy of extended musing and debate leaves me reaching for a line from that very movie, specifically the baffled exclamation of Ferrell's fashion guru Mugatu: "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."
Finally, if you have an hour to kill later this week, as all and sundry start slacking in anticipation of turkey gorging to come, why not watch Helena Bonham Carter, Natalie Portman, Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Hilary Swank, and Amy Adams natter on for a bit? I'm only a third of the way through and already think that if some drag queen is not doing a throaty Bening impersonation, that's an opportunity lost. Plus, Carter simply cannot be contained.
Taught Bazin this week. Here are some other cinematic languages [evolved and unregenerate] I've been reading.
Screw Top 10 lists. Brainiac reveals that the future of film is... Sabermetrics? "Sports Illustrated senior writer Joe Posnanski... introduces the concept of VOOB -- as in 'value over originating book.' It's a way to rank movie adaptations.... VOOB gives a ranking of how much better, or worse, the movie is than the book. He gives Social Network a VOOB of 29, while 21 get a -7."
Cinema and sports collide. Chip Kelly, noted football coach and amateur script doctor, rewrites six movie classics. An excerpt: "Million Dollar Baby, 2004 Actual Ending: Clint Eastwood euthanizes Hillary Swank's paralyzed boxer in the hospital. Chip Kelly rewrite: Clint knows what's going to happen so he chokes her in the first thirty seconds of the film. Then he and Morgan Freeman go have a nice lunch at a place doing trivia. They win all the gift certificates and bar tabs and don't share them with anyone." [via the 'Fesser]
Those feeling westward-bound wanderlust that mere airchair travel won't sate should know about the new film series at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs. "Get a room for $89, 20% off at the spa and a free bucket of beers, Sundays through Thursdays. Call us to book at 760.325.9900 with code LACANVAS." Ring-a-ding-ding! [via Lux Lotus]
I did say legends. Check out the legendary Crystal LaBeija, throwing a full-fledged diva fit in "The Queen (1968) feat. Crystal LaBeija, founder of the House of LaBeija. Queen is a ribald hour-long documentary about the 'Miss All-American Beauty' pageant judged by Andy Warhol amongst others, held in New York in 1967." The way she uses "Darling" like poison-dart punctuation? FIERCE.