Two In The Head

I completely agree with an opinion by Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet that the cow-being-killed clip in Ridley Scott and Kevin McDonald‘s Life In A Day (around the 43:35 mark) is appalling and sickening. The poor beast senses what’s about to happen and…I don’t want to talk about it. But it’s awful. Otherwise I found the first half of this film (I’m watching it on the flight back to L.A.) slightly boring.

Disappearing Ink

Way back when people from Georgia used to speak with delicate Georgian accents. I remember hearing them at gas stations and diners when I drove through Georgia on my way to Florida. Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara spoke like a Georgian. Jimmy Carter still does, pronouncing “oil” as “awwl” and so on. But I heard no Georgian dialects during my three and a half days in Savannah. Okay, one or two but just about everyone sounded like they came from Connecticut or Maryland.

Atlanta has always been an uptown burgh, but I’ve always thought of Savannah as some kind of genteel hamlet where you could hear elegant, well-bred Southerners talk like elegant, well-bred Southerners. Remember Kevin Spacey‘s mint-julep patois in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? Nobody talked like that in...

Anger Champ

I’ve long admired a certain veteran publicist for his ability to remain completely focused and lucid while letting go with red-faced rage. It’s a bad idea, of course, to let emotional ferocity color any sort of discussion, but a lot of people go there regardless. Some of us can hold on to our thoughts after getting pissed, but a lot (most?) of us can’t. Anger makes you spit and sputter and your sentences sound lumpy and primitive. The angrier you become the less able you are to deliver your points with any finesse. But this publicist, whom I worked for in the ’80s, used to let people have it with both barrels and still debate with knife-like precision. That’s a mark of exceptional intelligence.

Day in Savannah

Sam Levinson‘s Another Happy Day, which has been on the film festival circuit since bowing last January at Sundance and which will open on 11.18, played last night at the Savannah Film Festival. It’s definitely not The Family Stone, as Levinson exclaimed during the q & a. And it has “Red Twitter Queen” Ellen Barkin delivering the most searing, over-the-waterfall performance of her life as one of the most sensitive and well-intentioned crazy-torpedo moms of all time.

Barkin and...


I’ve told a few journalist acquaintances about a Sundance condo share…zip. They’re all set up elsewhere and/or can’t be bothered to reply so I’m going public. It’s a very large & spacious one-bedroom apartment at the Park Regency that easily accomodates three (i.e., myself and a journalist friend plus tenant X.) There’s a whole separate bunk bed area for the third person. The rental term is Saturday to Saturday so we’re taking it for two full weeks (1.14 through 1.28) for $2675. Divided by three = $891 or $89 per day if you’re Sundancing for the full 10 days.

The place has one regular big bedroom (me) with a full bathroom that I can share with someone, two bunk beds in their own area and a living room couch-bed...

Guest List

A filmmaker friend saw The Descendants last night (i.e., Sunday) at West Hollywood’s Soho House screening room. “Amazing movie, should go all the way,” he wrote. “The whole cast including George Clooney and Judy Greer plus all the kids were there along with [director-writer] Alexander Payne w/ Pacino, Jack N., Reese W. and Albert Brooks in the audience.

We’re on the same page then, I replied. “It’s got to be the front-runner,” he said. “And Clooney for Best Actor. Shailene Woodley could get nominated and maybe Judy Greer also on the basis of just four scenes.” Three scenes, I countered. “No, four,” he replied. “Beach, house X 2, hospital.” (I’m not going to explain this.)

“Wasn’t Robert...


Late this morning I finally saw Neil Labute‘s Sexting, an eight-minute short that premiered at Sundance 2011. A typically sharp and blunt LaBute piece. It’s basically Julia Stiles as the proverbial girlfriend talking straight into the lens but actually or anxiously to the wife of the married guy she’s been having an affair with. The nature of their exchange is hinted at around the 25-second mark.

Baldwin, Toback, Lyndon

I took two Olympus digital recorders to yesterday’s Barry Lyndon discussion with Alec Baldwin and James Toback. I pushed the record button on the newer one and placed it on the stage just before the session began, and somehow it recorded nothing. I successfully recorded their discussion with an older device from my seat, but after a while I wondered what the point was of having two recordings so I turned it off.

Director-writer James Toback (l.), actor Alec Baldin during yesterday afternoon’s hour-long chat at Savannah’s Lucas theatre.

Baldwin was funny and brilliant and so was Toback, and there I was in the fourth row, technically blowing it all to hell. Here‘s the short miserable clip that I recorded with the older device. Oh, and I accidentally deleted my photos so I...

Two Non-Altercations

I almost had words with a driver of a dark sedan during this morning’s bike ride through Savannah’s historic district. “Almost” is actually overstating it. I could have had words with this guy if I had a little less self-control.

I was stopping to take a picture on a small cobblestoned street, and a friend pulled her bike over to the opposite side. Along comes asshole in his dark sedan, and he doesn’t like that she’s taking up 18 to 24 inches of space in the right lane. He stops and waits for her to walk the bike entirely out his way before he proceeds. Except she doesn’t, meaning he’ll have to veer ever so lightly into the left lane to pass her. There was plenty of room, trust me.

So he starts in with the expressions. He scrunches his face up to express his contempt for her bike-riding skills. Then he does one of those head-wagging, “tsk-tsk” loud-exhale expressions that says...

Boxy Rebellion

At 5 pm (95 minutes from now) Alec Baldwin and James Toback will be leading a post-screening discussion of Barry Lyndon (’75) at Savannah’s Lucas Theatre. The Stanley Kubrick film began showing around 2 pm. I waited in the green room before it began to do a chat with Toback (which I’d been told I was scheduled to do), but he wound up doing a longish TV interview and I was shunted aside. I didn’t care that much. I took a nap in an easy chair instead.

I went upstairs to see how Barry Lyndon looked, and was amazed and very pleased to see it projected at an aspect ratio that almost looked like 1.37 to 1 but was definitely boxier than 1.66 to 1. If any 16 x 9 or 1.85 crop fascists had been there they would have been furious. “Chop those tops and bottoms off!,” their mantra...

Second Time Around

I have to be honest and report that I felt under-nourished and bored during my second viewing of Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist, which opened the Savannah Film Festival last night. I felt mostly pleased and charmed when I saw it in Cannes five and a half months ago, but it’s too cloying and simplistic — too much of a peanut- gallery pleaser — to stand up to a second viewing.

Last May I called The Artist “a winning ‘success’ and at the same time a half-and-halfer — a film that delivers beautifully but also leaves you wanting in certain ways. It’s basically a very well-done curio — an...


Low-key offbeat mood movies like The Rum Diary have always been tough sells, even if they’re relatively assured and “well made” as far as that goes. The odds are that half the critics are going to take a dump on them because they aren’t dramatic or wacko or plotty enough. But dry, rambling, mild-mannered half-comedies are okay in my book, and I was surprised to discover earlier this week that this long-delayed Bruce Robinson-Johnny Depp film is far from a burn.

Either you let it in or you don’t. It is what it is, and it ain’t half bad.

“No, wait…that’s not what we want!,” says the public. “We want madness, cojones or some kind of extremity. We want deep-river emotion or major nutso insanity or…whatever, something weird or new or...

First Encounter

Gas lighting “refers to creating of artificial light from combustion of a gaseous fuel, including hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, propane, butane, acetylene, ethylene or natural gas. Before electricity became sufficiently widespread and economical to allow for general public use, gas was the most popular means of lighting in cities and suburbs. Early gas lights had to be lit manually, but later gas lights were self-lighting.” — from Wikipage.

Extra Virgin

I’ve been saying for years that it’s cool with me if the Motion Picture Academy wants to give Doris Day a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. She was fairly big during the ’40s and huge in the ’50s and early ’60s, and what she stood for — prim, old-fashoned, pure-of-heart virtue in a perky persona — was unmissable in its time and essential for any film scholar or historian to acknowledge today.

But to me Day’s aversion to any suggestion of real sexuality always seemed a bit curious and even weird. I always thought of her as a kind of Singing Nun or Virginal Funny Girl. The hard truth is that in any kind of real-world context, Day played willful, persistent and exceedingly strange women, especially from the early ’50s on. Try watching her labored performance in Alfred...

Filthy Lucre

Michael Cieply 10.28 piece about War Horse director Steven Spielberg, called “What Makes Spielberg Jump?”, will appear in Sunday’s print edition. The invisible subtitle is “Spielberg really wouldn’t mind winning an Oscar for War Horse (Best Picture or Best Director or both), and this is the opening salvo in an attempt to make that happen.”

Here’s the portion that got my attention: “For those who wonder what drives him, money is no object: The Los Angeles Business Journal recently listed Spielberg as this city’s eighth richest person, with a net worth estimated at $3.2 billion.”

Meaning that his liquid worth is…what? With those kind of holdings Spielberg...