Throw Huma Under The Bus?

Reported yesterday by CBS News: “In another twist to the investigative saga over Hillary Clinton’s private emails, CBS News has learned that Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide and longtime confidant, says she has no knowledge of any of her emails being on the electronic device belonging to her estranged husband, disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner.

“A source familiar with the investigation told CBS News that the computer where FBI investigators found the latest trove of emails belonged to Weiner, not Abedin. The two separated earlier this year, following news of Weiner’s continued sexting practices. Abedin, according to law enforcement sources, was cooperating with officials and ‘seemed surprised that the emails were there.’

Like Hillary, Huma is presumably skilled at plotting, scheming, concealing and conniving with the best of them. But it doesn’t sound right for her to be “surprised” about some of her correspondence with Clinton being found on her estranged husband’s computer. One way or another Hillary has to surgically remove herself from this mucky-muck, and one way to symbolically do this will be to cut Huma loose. You tell me.

What Am I MIssing?

The saga of Tippi Hedren having been harassed (emotionally, obsessively, to some extent sexually) by Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of The Birds and to a lesser extent Marnie was revealed 33 years ago in Donald Spoto‘s “The Dark Side of Genius.” That controversial 1983 book includes a story about Hitchcock having attempted “to grab and violently kiss Hedren in the back of a car as they drove on to the set.”


Tippi Hedren, Alfred Hitchcock during promotion of The Birds in ’63.

In Spoto’s “Spellbound by Beauty” (’08), his third book about the directing legend, Hedren revealed that Hitchcock made offensive demands on her. “He stared at me and simply said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, that from this time on, he expected me to make myself sexually available and accessible to him, however and whenever and wherever he wanted…he made these demands on me, and no way could I acquiesce to them.”

This predatory pattern was also depicted in The Girl, a 2012 HBO movie that was based upon “Spellbound by Beauty.”

So I guess I’m not quite understanding what the big hoo-hah is about Hedren’s memoir “Tippi,” which includes a portion that recounts the same sordid saga. A Daily Beast summary mentions Hitchcock having “talked with Hedren about getting erections, and [that he] would ask her to touch him.” In short he wanted an occasional handjob. Which Hitch, an extremely rich and powerful man, could have easily gotten from a high-class professional any day of the week. So bizarre, so unhinged.

What Moviemaking Manual States That Under-Educated, Struggling-Class Women Have To Smoke?

All We Had (Gravitas, 12.9), a drama about a homeless single mom (Katie Holmes) and her teenaged daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen), is Holmes’ directorial debut. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Frank Scheck, reviewing during the ’16 Tribeca Film Festival, said it “packs in enough hot-button social issues to have fueled an entire season of The Oprah Winfrey Show — the ’09 financial crisis, subprime housing loans, alcoholism, homelessness, teen drug abuse, tolerance of the transgender community.” Plus this adaptation of Annie Weatherwax’s 2014 novel “also provides Holmes with her meatiest role since 2003’s Pieces of April. Unfortunately, All We Had is less edifying for the viewer. Somehow managing to feel rushed and plodding at the same time, it’s the sort of film in which the main characters display their resiliency by standing joyfully in a pouring rain…it reeks of well-intentioned indie movie cliches.”

If Marlene Dietrich’s Perfect Legs Could Talk

It’s been seven years since Hollywood Elsewhere riffed on the issue of hairy female legs. It was during the late ’09 (or early ’10) Oscar season when Precious costar Mo’Nique showed red-carpet photographers that she was down with noticable leg follicles, and then claimed that her husband was a fan of this grooming decision. (Which no one believed.) Now comes Adele telling Vanity Fair‘s Lisa Robinson that she recently didn’t shave her legs for a month. When Robinson asks if Simon Konecki, the father of their four-year-old son, minds her unshaven legs, Adele says “he has no choice…I’ll have no man telling me to shave my fuckin’ legs…shave yours.”

I’m sorry but what’s next, women with beards? Hairy female legs are profoundly unattractive — the female equivalent of a naked man with large sloping breasts or a schlong the size of a cashew nut. I very much doubt if I’m alone on this.

I noticed a dark-haired woman in shorts on the G train earlier this month, and her legs were as hairy as Omar Sharif‘s, and right away I inaudibly moaned. I did everything I could to avoid looking in their general direction, but I couldn’t think of anything else. Then I began ordering myself to stop thinking like an old fart and get with the program and accept that hairy female legs are the next barrier to fall. Marlene Dietrich would be appalled, of course, but she’s dead. (more…)

Finally Neruda

I finally saw Pablo Larrain‘s Neruda (The Orchard, 12.16) yesterday. It played at Santa Barbara’s storied Riviera theatre, under the auspices of Santa Barbara Film Festival honcho Roger Durling (and with Larrain taking bows and doing a post-screening q & a.) I wasn’t head over heels in love with this late ’40s period drama, but I gradually warmed to the dream saga of a renowned poet, politician and libertine. The film knows itself, and unfolds at its own pace. Which is to say leisurely, thoughtfully. It has an undercurrent.

Neruda is not a film about intrigue and twists, or even about a chase. It’s about different approaches to living — a meditative, sensual and humanist-compassionate way of being (Luis Gnecco‘s Pablo Neruda) vs. a small subservient man (Bernal’s government cop, Oscar Peluchoneau) determined to capture and suppress a perceived enemy of the state.


Luis Gnecco as Pablo Neruda.

Neruda director Pablo Larrain, Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling during a midday lunch between screenings of Neurda and Jackie.

I liked the textures, the culture, the glimpses of this and that part of Chile. And I liked the ending quite a bit. I expected something glum and resigned, but no. And then Neruda, who lived until 1973, is shown living with a measure of comfort in Paris, which is partly indicated by a scene of a naked Neruda cavorting with naked women. (The fact that Neruda is fat is not presented as a problem or even an issue.  But if I was as fat as this guy I would never take my clothes off, not even to shower.)

I’ll always remember the line “where is that fat Communist?”

But there’s no mention of Neruda‘s return to Chile, and how he became part of Salvador Allende‘s government. And how he may have been poisoned to death by a Pinochet loyalist in ’73, and right around the time Pinochet and the military overthrew the Allende government in a coup.

This is the pattern of nearly all historical films these days. You see the partial, incomplete version of a real-life event or a man’s life that the filmmaker has presented, and then you go to Wikipedia and other online sources and read the whole story, warts and all. (more…)

Note From A Friend

“I saw Tom Ford‘s Nocturnal Animals last night,” the email begins. “A BAFTA and British Oscar voters event. Ford, Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were all there. Great group of talent. The film was well received and I liked it a lot, but Ford’s handling of the material makes it feel more emotional in retrospect than it was on the screen.

“By making a story about a woman so cold that she’s lost touch with everything in her life, we end up with a cold movie. The music, cinematography and actors, however, elevate it to a level of fascination that kept me in. I hope Michael Shannon gets some award attention. He was amazing as always.


Amy Adams in Nocturnal Amnials

“I asked you about an Arrival screening. Anything coming up?”

My reply: The only really interesting thing about Nocturnal Animals, which may strike a chord with this or that industry person but is going to more or less die when Joe Popcorn enters the equation, is the ending when [redacted but it involves something that happens between Gyllenhaal and Adams]. That’s it. That’s the only thing that grabbed me. Okay, that and Shannon’s cancer-ridden sheriff. But then Shannon is always good so it’s almost de rigeur when he scores yet again.

Again, my initial Toronto review. (more…)

Ownership

I dislike the neeedling, nagging voice of the guy asking the questions, but this Vogue thing is a good showcase for the charms of La La Land‘s Emma Stone. I’ve noted before that she has the Best Actress Oscar in the bag, and I feel obliged to repeat this.

Goleta Fields

I stayed in Goleta last night. 90 minutes hence I’ll be attending a Pablo Larrain double-header at Santa Barbara’s Riviera theatre — a 10 am screening of Neruda (The Orchard, 12.6), and then a combination luncheon, schmoozer and q & a (SBIFF honcho Roger Durling interviewing Larrain), followed by a 2 pm screening of Jackie (Fox Searchlight, 12.2).

I Decided To Avoid Inferno Months Ago

Has anyone even seen Inferno, which has a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating? What discerning person would do that? To what end? Projections say it’ll wind up with around $15 million by tonight. There’s a general notion that the second sequel (i.e., the third entry) in a franchise will tend to blow chunks. Yes, the masses are gullible, but every now and then they can smell a turd from a mile away,

Variety‘s Seth Kelley has speculated that “this weekend’s overall slump could be attributed to any number of factors including sequel fatigue, the calm before the awards-season-contenders storm, the Presidential election, Halloween weekend or the World Series which sees the Chicago Cubs, a major market, in competition for the first time since 1945.” 

It’s the Cubs, definitely the Cubs plus Halloween plus a strong populist suspicion that Inferno sucks.

“Watching [Tom] Hanks bummed me out. An actor without a role is a sad thing to watch, and Hanks isn’t the type to throw in some fruity Brando-like inflections or look like he’s trying to amuse himself. He’s not a comedian anymore. He’s a terribly earnest fellow, and he’s bent on serving the terribly earnest Ron Howard, who’s bent on serving this terrible material. Their symbiotic blandness eats into your brain. Together with Dan Brown, they might have inadvertently discovered the tenth circle of hell.” — from David Edelstein‘s Vulture review of Inferno, which is currently tanking or underperforming, depending on what box-office report you’re reading.

Scorsese’s One-Eyed Jacks Rundown

I somehow missed this, a brief Martin Scorsese tutorial about Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks (1961), when it popped ten days ago. Scorsese, who oversaw the One-Eyed Jacks restoration with Steven Spielberg, defends the “painstaking” decision to go with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the film could have easily and harmlessly been cropped at 1.75:1 or, better yet, 1.66:1) because that’s how it was projected at Leows’ Capitol in 1961. (Or something like that.) This despite Scorsese’s admission that he initially thought 1.66:1 would have been more appropriate. I’ve mentioned three or four times that Criterion’s OEJ Bluray will pop on 11.22 — one more time!

“Anthony Weiner Could Be The Cock That Ended The World”…Not

From Huffpost‘s Daniel Marans, reported earlier today: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch wanted F.B.I. director James Comey to follow Department of Justice protocols and traditions and not reveal the discovery of new emails that might be pertinent to Clinton’s case, The Huffington Post was able to confirm on Saturday, following the account of a Justice Department official in The Washington Post.”

From “Comey, Clinton and This Steaming Mess,” a 10.29 N.Y. Times column by Frank Bruni: “Comey said in an internal memo that he was hoping, with his announcement, not ‘to create a misleading impression’ of some hugely significant discovery. But that’s exactly and predictably what he did. (more…)

4K Goodfellas Sounds Great, But Not If It’s Brownfellas All Over Again

Considering that I own a 65″ Sony 4K TV, it’s conceivable that I may eventually spring for a 4K Bluray player. Down the road, I mean. Because all the 4K Blurays on sale now are action-driven or CG fantasy spectacles, and almost none are aimed at serious film fans like myself. When and if I purchase a 4K Bluray player it’ll be great to own the 4K disc of Martin Scorsese‘s Goodfellas, which will pop in early December. The only problem, of course, is that this will almost certainly be a 4K rendering of Brownfellas, the remastered Bluray version of Scorsese’s 1990 classic that came out last year. This version looks like it was marinated in gravy, lentil soup and butterscotch sauce and then left to bake in the afternoon sun. So I’m sorry but no. If Warner Home Video was to announce a 4K version that will remove the brownish effect that covered last year’s remastering, fine.

(more…)

Redford’s “What I’ve Learned” vs. HE’s Version

Five keepers from Robert Redford‘s “What I’ve Learned” quote piece, assembled by Matthew Belloni and published by Esquire in January 2011:

Lesson/quote #1: “Life is essentially sad. Happiness is sporadic. It comes in moments and that’s it. Extract the blood from every moment.”

Lesson/quote #2: “I was in a small charter plane flying from Santa Fe to Santa Rosa, and the engines went out for nine minutes. You go through that checklist. Then you get down to what it’s gonna feel like. What’s it gonna feel like? I still wonder.”

Lesson/quote #3: “I grew up in a pretty cynical environment. All my friends gave each other a horribly bad time. We’d destroy each other with criticisms, but for me it was a sign of friendship. If someone gave me a hard time, I’d say, ‘Well, I guess he’s my friend.’ I think Paul and I had that relationship.

Lesson/quote #4: “Humor. Skill. Wit. Sex appeal. In that order.”

Lesson/quote #5: “People don’t remember who the critics were.” [HE response: Oh, yeah? Pauline Kael, A.O. Scott, Otis Ferguson, Anthony Lane, Penelope Gilliatt, Eric Kohn, Judith Christ, Joe Bob Briggs, Andrew Sarris, James Agee, Andre Bazin, David Denby in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Vincent Canby, Manohla Dargis, Arthouse Trump, etc. (more…)

Yesterday’s Email Thing Is A “Nothingburger” — Comey Revealed Anthony Weiner Laptop Contents Just To Cover His Ass

From Kurt Eichenwald’s 10.28 Newsweek story: “Friday’s disclosure that the FBI had discovered potential new evidence in its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal email when she was Secretary of State has virtually nothing to do with any actions taken by the Democratic nominee, according to government records and an official with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to Newsweek on condition of anonymity.

“The revelation that the FBI has discovered additional emails convulsed the political world, and led to widespread (and erroneous) claims and speculation. Many Republicans proclaimed that the discovery suggests Clinton may have broken the law, while Democrats condemned FBI Director James Comey for disclosing this information less than two weeks before the election, claiming he did it for political purposes.

“There is no indication the emails in question were withheld by Clinton during the investigation, the law enforcement official told Newsweek, nor does the discovery suggest she did anything illegal. Also, none of the emails were to or from Clinton, the official said. Moreover, despite the widespread claims in the media that this development had prompted the FBI to ‘reopen’ the case, it did not; such investigations are never actually closed, and it is common for law enforcement to discover new information that needs to be examined.” (more…)

Not A Forensic, Pulse-Pounding Study of Domestic Terror, But An Inspirational Doc About Couples and Families Learning To Heal and Bounce Back

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg‘s Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing (HBO, 11.21) screened at the just-concluded Savannah Film Festival, so it’s fair game. I was interested because I was looking to experience a doc that wouldn’t do the “Boston fuck yeah!” thing, which is what everyone expects from Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg‘s Patriot’s Day (CBS Films, 12.21). I wanted to sink into a film that would tell the real, ground-level story of the April 2013 Boylston Street bombing — the prelude, the motivational particulars, the aftermath and whatnot. The whole detailed blow-by-blow.

I was therefore surprised to discover that it’s essentially a documentary about the victims’ medical and emotional recovery from the bomb blasts, and only secondarily a detailed investigation into the whole story — who, what, when, where, why, how, etc. Shot over a three year period, the doc focuses “on a newlywed couple, a mother and daughter and two brothers — all gravely injured by the blast — face the challenges of physical and emotional recovery as they and their families strive to reclaim their lives,” blah blah. Coping with terror, shock, pain, missing limbs, prosthetics, health costs, feeling morose.

So instead of a “Boston fuck yeah!” film, Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing is a “recovery fuck yeah!” thing. A movie that wears a banner across its chest that says “life can be brutal but the spirit of love and family lives on!” (more…)

Patriot’s Day Will Close AFI Fest

Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg‘s Patriot’s Day (CBS Films, 12.21), a drama about the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, will be the closing-night attraction at AFI Fest on Thursday, 11.17. Hollywood Elsewhere will be covering the Key West Film Festival (11.16 thru 11.20) that night, but maybe CBS Films will afford an earlier opportunity. Here’s hoping (and I mean this) that Berg/Wahlberg surprise us all by not delivering a “Boston fuck yeah!” rah-rah patriotism film, and that Patriot’s Day at least tries to simulate the antsy editing and fleet pacing of a Paul Greengrass– or classic Costa Gavras-styled thriller.

In Her Sway

“’There is scarcely a star in Hollywood whose appeal I would not try to alter or develop,’ said Alfred Hitchcock, setting sail for Hollywood on March 1, 1939. ‘I am itching to get my hands on these American stars.’ Quite literally, [this quote echoes] Hitchcock’s relationship with his actresses following a sad declension — from secret admirer to Svengali to sex pest and stalker.

“Ackroyd does a lovely job of bringing a blush to the cheek of his early infatuation with Ingrid Bergman. ‘Whenever he was with her, I had the feeling that something was ailing him, and it was difficult to know exactly the cause,’ her co-star Gregory Peck said of shooting Spellbound, the first of a trio of films with the actress that Ackroyd rightly identifies as marking ‘an emotional sea change’ in both him and his films.

“’The woman is, for the first time in a Hitchcock film, the healing agent,” Ackroyd writes. “She is the blossom in the dust. As a child Hitchcock was terrified when a female relative peered too close into his cradle. Bergman’s close-ups in Notorious have the charcoal softness of a child recognizing its mother.'” — from Tom Shone‘s 10.28 N.Y. Times review of Peter Ackroyd’s “Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life.”

In short, that series of opening doors in that florid sequence from Spellbound [above] were Hitchcock’s own.