“Is there a secret language school where they teach under-35 women to converse in mallspeak with the exact same reedy, mincing, me-me tones?” — tweeted from JFK before my Virgin America LA flight took off.

Well Put

“I disliked Prometheus intensely,” writes “Subashini” in a 6.23 post on the Blog of Disquiet. “I do think that having acrimonious feelings towards the film is the actual point — the film seems to be a stand-in for a certain segment of humanity and its imperialist, ruinous ambitions, though like most films coming out of Hollywood this seems to coexist with its appreciation of capital, technology, and involuntary/reproductive labour.

“That in itself doesn’t make it inherently unlikeable, not at all. But as Susan Sontag wrote in ‘The Imagination of Disaster,’ ‘Science fiction films invite a dispassionate, aesthetic view of destruction and violence — a technological view,” and perhaps it’s the...

Formerly The Surrogate

I apologize for omitting Ben Lewin‘s The Sessions (i.e., formerly Six Sessions, and before that The Surrogate) in my initial posting of my best-of-2012 piece, which I called “Half-Time.” I’ve since corrected the error. Fox Searchlight will release this highly praised acquisition (for which they paid $6 million) on 10.26.12.

“I saw Ben Lewin‘s The Surrogate this morning,” I wrote on 1.24.12, “and yes, it’s a touching, thoughtful and...

Finally Let Him In

Tom Berenger has been jogging around the track for 35-plus years. He broke into features in the mid ’70s and had a great 16-year run — Looking for Mr. Goodbar (’77), In Praise of Older Women (’78), The Dogs of War (’81), The Big Chill (’84), Platoon (’86), Someone to Watch Over Me (’87), Major League (’89), Born on the Fourth of July (’89), The Field (’90), At Play in the Fields of the Lord (’91), Sliver (’93) and Gettysburg (’93). And then he seemed to slip into B-level genre stuff, but he came back two years ago with a significant role in Chris Nolan‘s Inception.

The man is a veteran who’s paid his dues several times over and is now into his...

Ted Surfs Mike Backwash

Magic Mike did around $18 million on Friday, and is forecasting $47 million by Sunday night — much higher than expected. And Seth McFarlane‘s Ted, the Mark Wahlberg teddy-bear movie which I saw tonight and was more or less okay with, is expected to do a little over $50 million by Sunday night. All the hot-dog-eating, ESPN-watching guys who wouldn’t be caught dead seeing Mike went to Ted — it’s that simple.

Mike got a B from CinemaScore respondents — i.e., it didn’t get an A because some felt that it would’ve been a little better if it had less character stuff and was glossier-looking (“What was up with the orange-y color?”) and cheaper and sillier with dumb jokes.

Actual Dialogue

For whatever reason the following exchange, which happened at a party in London’s Soho district sometime in early December 1980, has never left my memory. It was a really great gathering, thrown (or so I recall) by Time Out magazine. It was crowded and everyone was half bombed and the music had a great tribal drum thing going on. This is how it went:

Me: Who are we listening to?

Guy #1: What?

Me: (shouting in his ear) Who’s playing?

Guy #1: You know who it is.

Me: I do? It’s not coming to me.

Guy #2: You know who it is…say it!

Guy #1: You know who it is!

Me: Bow Wow Wow?

Guy #2: That’s right.

Three or four days earlier I had been woken up at a place...

All Effed Up

That’s a ’70s Lina Wertmuller film, right? Giancarlo Giannini, just back from a two-month stay in Europe, arrives in a sticky, sweltering Manhattan. Doesn’t feel too badly, walks around, buys Lifeboat Bluray, writes about Tomkat. Checks into nice air-conditioned Chinatown hotel around 2 or 3 pm, goes upstairs for a 90-minute nap. Wakes up at 10:15 pm…whuh?…and comes to a depressing realization that falling asleep again within the next several hours is gonna be a bitch.

Death of Tomkat

Relationship-wise Tom Cruise isn’t much of a stayer, but then who is? Most couples last five to ten years, longer if they have kids. Cruise’s relationships have mostly tended to last three to six years. Rebecca DeMornay, ’83 to ’85, was the shortest but they were both young. Mimi Rogers was just under three years (May ’87 to February ’90). Cruise’s one long-term relationship was with Nicole Kidman, lasting just over 10 years from ’90 to ’01. Penelope Cruise was…what, two and half or three years, ’01 to ’04? And now the Katie Holmes marriage is toast after six…okay, seven years if you count courtship.

Tom and Katie have a daughter together, Suri, and she’ll be the basis of their post-marital bond for the rest of their lives. It’s no biggie. We all move on, renew, find new oil, rebuild, join new health clubs, re-finance, re-adapt.


I’ll give you $100 if any European property owner who isn’t a drug addict, an alcoholic or saddled with mental issues has a backyard like this. But this is more or less par for the course in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Brooklyn neighborhood that reeks of degeneracy and fatalism and anti-social asshole teenagers and a lack of soap and regular toothbrushing and deodorant and decent take-out food.

Backyard of 190 Pulaski Street, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

I waited 45 minutes to get my passport stamped last night — me and 260 others being served by three shlubby guys. “Look at this way — at least there won’t be any waiting for the luggage,” I said to a guy I’d been on the same jet with. A 45-minute wait would never happen in Europe. There are lines, of course, but nobody waits that long for something as simple as...

Nutters In Love

The Silver Linings Playbook “looks fast and sharp — a raggedy-jazz comedy about caustic humor, family, sex, anxiety, therapy, hurt, healing…all of it. Edgy, crackling, push-pushy, what-the-fucky. Directed and written by David O. Russell, adapted from the serio-comic novel by Matthew Quick. Agitated, lacking-in-people-skills Bradley Cooper falls in love with Jennifer Lawrence. Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker costar.” — from a 5.21 Cannes Film Festival riff about my first look at a Silver Linings reel.

Starts In Earnest

Three days ago Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone wrote about the trepidation she’s been feeling about the inevitable Beasts of the Southern Wild backlash. Two days later’s Tim Grierson heard her call and posted this fairly well-written riff about the “five worst indie film cliches” in Beasts.

You can read as well as I can, but here are the five in bullet form: One, the film “fetishizes authenticity.” he says. Two, it tries way too hard to be...

Women Against Mike

Katey Rich aside, a significant portion of elite female film critics have gone thumbs-down on Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike (Warner Bros., opening today) and are more than partly responsible for its Rotten Tomatoes grade hugging the low ’80s instead of the low to mid ’90s, where it belongs. As far as I can tell the only extra-brainy, big-gun female critic to come down squarely in support of this Warner Bros. release is N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis.

Wicked Chasm

“As a kid I had a huge crush on John Phillip Law after I saw him in The Russians are Coming!, The Russians Are Coming!,” a producer friends recalls. “Anyway, one day I was in the post office on Fairfax and Santa Monica Blvd. in the late ’80s. That post office was a depressing green-fluorescent lighthole back then. Remember that that whole general area was on the dinghy side before the posh Whole Foods opened across the street and gave the neighborhood a facelift.

“So I’m standing there and suddenly I see a guy with bony white legs in cheap shorts, a faded T-shirt and a torn straw beach hat. I got a little closer as I used the xerox machine, and when I saw who it was I gasped — John Phillip Law. I was horrified. He looked like a homeless person. Later on I heard an anecdote from a close friend who had rented the lower level of a duplex in the hills that Law owned. He said that he/they moved out quickly...

Wow News From States

My British Airways Munich flight just arrived at Heathrow/London, and I’m reading about SCOTUS having just given a Constitutional pass to Affordable Health Care…whoo-whoo! And while we’re at it, WTF? Really wasn’t expecting this. Like, at all. I’m imagining Justice Scalia baring his fangs and going “Aaarrrgghhhh!” How did it happen? I’m about to start my reading but first…another security check line!

Friends of Mike #3

From Cinema Blend‘s Katey Rich: “You can probably tell by now that Magic Mike isn’t exactly the glitter-caked bachelorette party romp promised in the trailers, or at least not entirely. But what’s probably most impressive about the work Steven Soderbergh does, directing from Reid Carolin‘s script, is that it’s got the glitz and the heavy character study, without sacrificing either.

“Shot by Soderbergh through a dingy yellow filter that makes everything feel like it’s been left in the sun too long, Magic Mike is about dreams that curdle and get deferred, about how you need more money than what’s stuffed in a G-string to make it in this world, but how those $1 bills can make it easier to wait — for a little while, at least. It’s also about Channing Tatum...

Have A Chair

If I’m lucky enough to know them, brilliant, bothered urban women with a caustic tongue and an absolute inability to converse about anything without sharing the brutal, often amusing truth of it are the light of my life. Guys too. If I had my way the ones I know who fit this description would never leave, at least before my own demise.