I’ve Read Rodham

Yesterday I read Young Il Kim‘s Rodham, the Hillary Clinton-at-the-crossroads screenplay that James Ponsoldt (Smashed, The Spectacular Now) will direct. It’s a snappy, reasonably engaging read as far as it goes. I can see why it’s a “go” project and why some top-tier actresses want to play the part. It’s an intriguing story about a smart woman dealing with flattering sexism in high places, and how she dealt with the difficult choice of becoming the star of her own life and career vs. becoming the partner of an up-and-comer. The film will also serve as a flattering testimonial when Clinton (presumably) launches her campaign for President in 2015.


“Are Who Are You? Al Capone?”

Yesterday in Berne I came upon a small park that was used for an important scene in Smiley’s People (’82), the six-part BBC miniseries adaptation of John Le Carre‘s 1979 novel. made for the BBC. It’s the scene in which the corrupt Soviet diplomat Grigoriev (exquisitely played by Michael Londsdale) is kidnapped by Toby Esterhase (Bernard Hepton) and his men, and driven to a flat where a well-armed George Smiley (Alec Guinness) awaits. (The scene begins at 1:06 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvWD8xkCNRU.) I happened upon it by accident, but I recognized it instantly.

Thursday, 5.30, 2:35 pm.


My son Jett, a highly sophisticated music guy, swears by Pitchfork (“easily the most cutting-edge hipster music site…the best place to read about music you can’t stand”) and is telling me I should visit The Dissolve, a Pitchfork-created, Chicago-based movie site, when it debuts sometime this summer. I still have no WordPress embed capability (although it briefly returned in Paris a couple of days ago) so the URL is http://thedissolve.com.

Led by editorial director Keith Phipps and edited by Scott Tobias, The Dissolve “will feature reviews, commentary, interviews, and news about the films of the moment, while also exploring more than a century of film history”…fascinating! “[Covering] everything from the latest studio blockbusters to American independent films to vital imports from around the world, the site will also conduct in-depth conversations with filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors while engaging in commentary that goes beyond gossip and box-office results.” Wait…I do that! Okay, I don’t talk to that many actors.

Raging Parent Who Won’t Take No

And Paul Dano plays the creepo. Hugh Jackman goes vigilante when a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) fails to find his kidnapped daughter. Paychecks for Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, etc. Directed by Incendies helmer Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) and penned by Contraband‘s Aaron Guzikowski. Whoa…Contraband with Mark Wahlberg? This is what’s known in the motion picture industry as an “uh-oh” moment. Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! Opens on 9.20.

Your Giggles Are Killing Me

I clench up every time a table of three or four people erupts in loud sustained giggling. Laughter is basically about the releasing of feelings that you’ve kept bottled up for whatever reason. Freeing these suppressed judgements and emotions from the cage is exhilarating — an occasion for pure joy. I’ve been there a few thousand times in my life, and will hopefully go there again very soon. But it’s over within five or ten seconds, max. And then I settle into “the space.” Because I don’t have that much bottled up to begin with. No healthy person does.

What good are you if you can’t be Zen about things? The Zen guy or the Bhagavad Gita gal lives 24/7 with the hum of the universe animating his/her spirit and zapping every molecule, and therefore he/she doesn’t explode in spazzy giggling fits at breakfast tables…on and on and on, dropping silverware on the floor, getting louder and louder.

It’s not “she knows too much to argue or to judge” — it’s “she knows and feels too much to giggle for 30 or 40 seconds straight.”

The fact is that anyone who succumbs to boorish and sustained giggling fits means they’ve probably got a shitload of bottled-up feelings and rage and bad memories, which obviously indicates they’re living in a fairly conflicted or repressed place, and are therefore probably miserable to some degree, not to mention immature. So if you’re the type of person who giggles in loud, prolonged, hyena-like bursts in a Swiss breakfast room at 8:25 am you’re probably a bit of an asshole. You probably need years of therapy, but if you haven’t done the therapy by now you probably never will.

Does it matter to you that you’re irritating others with your gales of hideous gaiety? Of course not. Why should it? You’re on your vacation and you worked hard to pay for it and so you can do what you want, whenever you want…right? So you’re a sociopath to boot.

Doctor My Eyes

I decided to do a brief weekend in Lauterbrunnen, the little village in the Bernese Alps that I visited last June. Back then it was warmish, summery — this year it’s chilly and occasionally rainy. Jackets, scarves, layers. But that’s cool. But the wifi sucks again. It takes 20 to 30 seconds for a new page to load. And it doesn’t work at all in the wee hours. (Or it didn’t this morning at 5:30 am.) So I’m delighted to be deep inside God’s natural cathedral but at the same time irritated and even miserable. I was so dispirited by the crap wifi I didn’t even file anything yesterday.


Low-Rent Apocalypse…Ironically, In Quotes

This should reach the really sophisticated idiots out there. The idea, I gather, is to make light of End of Days as a way of making light of actual feelings of doom and futility shared by co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and their pallies. Costarring Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny “slovenly Irish animal” McBride and Craig Robinson, blah blah.

Dissecting Feminist Stalinoid Disdain For Blue

The Daily Beast‘s Richard Porton has today posted a fascinating analysis of the disdain that some feminist critics have expressed towards Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or last Sunday night.

It all boils down to reactions to the film’s notorious ten-minutes-or-longer sex scene — tongues and fingers and “impressive scissoring,” etc. Porton quotes Manohla Dargis‘s view in her 5.23 N.Y. Times piece that this and similar scenes aren’t cool because they’re basically about Kechiche indulging in male-horndog panting. Here are some of the hot-button points that follow: (more…)

Why Do I Weep?

I dropped by an apartment yesterday to pick up a set of keys and write down a door code and generally prepare for a move-in. The building manager was away so the person in charge was the cleaning person. She is/was more worldly than I in that she speaks French and Spanish but no English at all. I speak cretin-level French and Spanish, so there was no common language ground. It was agony — I was nearly brought to tears. And all I was trying to do was explain to this woman that I would move in next Monday, 6.3, and vacate on Sunday, 6.9. Somehow this attempt at conveyance (how much simpler could a message be?) turned into a 35-minute melodrama of misunderstanding and subtle groaning. (more…)

Bantering Charm Submerged in “Aspergerian” Swamp

“Male charm is all but absent from the screen because it’s all but absent from our lives,” writes Benjamin Schwartz in a 5.22 Atlantic piece that I missed until now due to Cannes and whatnot. Most men hold charm in vague suspicion: few cultivate it; still fewer respond to it; hardly any know whether they have it; and almost none can even identify it. (The damn URL embed capability isn’t working so here it is: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/when-men-lost-their-charm/309303/.)


June Dartboard

I’m glad I’m not staying too long in Paris (I return on 6.20) as the movie-release situation is only slightly more aligned with U.S. release dates than in 2003, which is when I last stayed here for any length of time. It’s mostly a problem and a pain for anyone looking to keep abreast. Simultaneous day-and-date openings are only a little more common, but the smaller films (Ariel Vroman‘s The Iceman, Sally Potter‘s Ginger and Rosa) seem to open much later here as a rule. Broken City is playing on U.S. flights but opening here on 6.26; ditto Identity Thief

Even a couple of biggies (like Star Trek Into Darkness) are opening well past the U.S. debut date.

M. Night Shyamalan‘s After Earth (which I’ll probably hate) opens in the U.S. on 5.31 but not until 6.4 in Paris. Sofia Coppola‘s The Bling Ring opens only two days later in Paris than it does in the States. The Internship opens in the States on 6.7 but not in Paris until 6.26. White House Down opens the same day (6.28) in the U.S. as it does here. Man of Steel opens on 6.14 in the States; 6.19 in Paris. And so on. There’s just no home-court advantage to living in Paris and trying to keep up…none.

I’m in touch with all the local publicists, of course, and trying to see what I can see but it’s a lot of work and a drag on a certain level. I’ve been writing this and that U.S. publicist to see about them sending me DVD screeners, but I’ll be happy to return (two weeks in Manhattan before flying back to LA on 7.7) in more ways than one.

As Long As Hillary Doesn’t Drive

If anyone has a PDF of Rodham, the 2012 Black List script by South Korean screenwriter Young Il Kim, please send it along. James “beardo” Ponsoldt will direct the film version with either Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried, Reese Witherspoon or Scarlett Johansson playing Hillary Rodham Clinton. Pic will focus on HRC’s days during the early ’70s when she was lawyering on the House Judiciary Committee that was looking into impeaching Richard Nixon.

Chastain would be the wise casting call, I would think. Seyfried looks like Clinton did in the early ’70s, but she doesn’t exude enough of a contentious-attorney snapdragon mentality. But Witherspoon could do this by bringing back Tracy Flick. (more…)

Give Internship A Chance

Am I the only online know-nothing urging moviegoers to give Shawn Levy‘s The Internship (20th Century Fox, 6.7) a fair shake? Voices in my head have been telling me for months that this Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson generation-gap/financial-desperation comedy might be at least half watchable, but I’ve been shouted down at every turn by the haters. The Internship is called Les Stagiaires over here, but it doesn’t open in Paris until 6.26 so what can I say or do?


Jedi Was a Metaphor For Corruption

I missed last Saturday’s 30th anniversary celebration of the commercial debut of Return of the Jedi, which happened on 5.25.83. As all true Star Wars fans know, Jedi was a kind of tragedy as it strongly indicated to anyone who was halfway hip that Star Wars creator and Jedi producer George Lucas had sadly evolved into a shameless hack and that the Star Wars series was effectively over and would never again deliver the power, gravitas and coolness of The Empire Strikes Back.


Zod, Lane, Jor-El

Other than Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel being the third mega-budget Superman origin story to be released in 35 years and the second within the last seven, the problem, clearly, is going to getting through Russell Crowe‘s “farewell, my son” dialogue. Crowe is a total pro and I completely respect his having held his nose and cashed the paycheck, but all of that “you must lead them, show them the way and give them hope” stuff is awful. And I still say Amy Adams (who was perfectly paired with Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter) looks a tiny bit cougar-ish alongside Henry Cavill.