Randoms

Perfect Nightcrawler Trailer; Shame on Sneider For Ignoring Gilroy Pic

This Nightcrawler redband trailer is inspired — it nails the sensibility and the coolness factor to a T. Serious congratulations to the Open Road marketing ace who cut it together and decided on the tone. On the other end of the spectrum, TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider needs to apologize for not even mentioning that Nightcrawler (opening on the evening of 10.30) is the only new film to see that weekend. Sneider urges viewers to catch some classic horror films (Candy Man tops the list) but…well, this is a portrait of typical genre hounds, I suppose. They want what they want when they want it, and they don’t want to know from intelligent counter-programming.

Bass-Thromp Sound, Part 2

During yesterday’s drive into Savannah from the airport I told a senior Los Angeles-based exhibition executive (i.e., a guy who doesn’t want to be quoted) about the over-cranked, super-bassy sound inside the TCL Chinese that made dialogue hard to understand at times during Thursday night’s Interstellar screening. He said he knows all about that. He said that union guys who were calibrating the sound at a West L.A. theatre plex constructed two or three years ago wanted to heighten the bassy “thromp” levels, and that he and his associates told them “nope, nope…no way.” He knows exactly what bass-thromp does to dialogue. And he made the right call. The plex in question delivers excellent sound. Hearing dialogue is never an issue when I see a film there. I can always hear every last vowel and consonant.


Interior of refurbished TCL Chinese. The muddled, super-bassy, over-cranked sound delivery in this theatre has probably harmed…okay, influenced the critical opinion of Interstellar among L.A. journos who attended Thursday night’s screening. I have already pledged to see Chris Nolan’s film again in a theatre with better calibrated sound.

I’ve also heard from a journalist friend who saw Interstellar Wednesday night at the California Science Center IMAX theatre, and he says the sound there “was exquisite…you could hear absolutely everything perfectly.” He also dropped by Thursday night’s TCL Chinese showing, or actually “bits and pieces of the last 25 minutes of the film and the sound was way overpumped. In fact standing in the lobby we thought the theatre was going to collapse, and I heard complaints from a couple of SAG voters that they couldn’t understand the dialogue, which always used to be the case at the Chinese pre-IMAX.”

I’m waiting to speak soon to Chapin Cutler, the projection and sound guru from Boston Light & Sound who handles projection standards at the Telluride Film Festival, the TCM Classic Film Festival and is now preparing projection for the upcoming AFI Fest. I’m not going to assume anything but Cutler knows his realm cold, and I can guess what he’ll tell me about bass-thromp.

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Lamentation

From a 10.24 Guardian story by Alex Hern: “Tim Berners-Lee has expressed sadness that the web has mirrored the dark side of humanity, as well as enabling its ‘wonderful side’ to flourish.”

Hollywood Elsewhere to Tim Berners-Lee: “I hear you, man. I know exactly what you’re talking about and then some. But I fear your assessment of human nature is a touch on the Pollyannic side. If nothing else comment threads on the web have revealed who and what some of us really are. The more vocal sector, I mean.” (more…)

Savannah’s Surrender

A little less than 150 years ago, or in late December of 1864, the city of Savannah surrendered to Union troops led by General William Tecumseh Sherman. Here is the message sent by Sherman to Confederate General William J. Hardee on 12.17.64:


Gen. Sherman and troops entering Savannah just before Christmas 1864.

“I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city. Also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied, and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah, and its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordnance. Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army — burning to avenge the national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.” (more…)

Miles Teller “Pervert” Story

After Thursday night’s Interstellar screening I was heading down the escalator inside the Chinese/Dolby complex, heading for the orange level in the parking garage. On the up escalator I noticed this shapely ginger-haired girl with really tight jeans, maybe 23 or 24, with some big-shouldered, dark-haired guy standing behind her. There was another girl with them, I think. Then I realized the guy, who was wearing a powder-blue shirt of some kind, was Miles Teller….”yo, Whiplash!” I naturally started eyeballing him instead of ginger girl. Then ginger girl dropped something and bent over to pick it up just as she and Teller were passing me, and I couldn’t resist checking out the cheeks. Hey, anybody would have…c’mon. She wasn’t looking so what the hell…right? Except Teller was looking at me. And then the humiliation: “Don’t be a pervert, man.” And he kind of bellowed it. Shamed, I tried a little “oh, no, no, man…I was just…you know, you and Damien Chazelle, man…I’m on the team!” But he kept looking at me like I was scum. The irony is that I never gape at women shamelessly. I’ll sneak looks, sure, but covertly. But Teller, man…he wouldn’t back off. Typical guy thing: “Hey man, she might be hot but I’m with her so avert your fucking eyes, and keep them averted!”

Savannah Is Making Do Without Zellweger

Two days ago (Wednesday, 10.22) I ran a quickie about Renee Zellweger’s surgical face-change and noted that she’ll be attending the Savannah Film Festival. (A 10.18 JustJared piece was one of the articles that reported this.) But Zellweger, it turns out, cancelled her Savannah plans on or before 10.17, per Do Savannah‘s Linda Sickler. The story said that Zellweger’s withdrawal was due to her having “signed to appear in a film and [having to be] on set during the film festival.” Maybe, but I think she didn’t want to be near any out-of-town press people who might ask about her new appearance. Who would hire Zellweger to be in a film? The Oscar-winning actress she used to be, facially-speaking, no longer exists.

Hollywood Elsewhere touched down at Savannah Airport today around 5:35 pm. I got to the Marshall House on Broughton Street around 6:45 pm. Sure enough, just like the last time I visited, the festival tried to palm me off with a dinky broom-closet-sized room. (Journalists never get the class-A treatment — I totally understand that — but I won’t be humiliated.) And just like the last time I had to stamp my feet and throw a hissy fit and tell them that a broom-closet room wouldn’t do, etc. I was ready to go right back to the airport and fly back to Los Angeles…I really was. They finally put me into a decent-sized room — not a suite or a grand movie-star room by any standard…just a nice, simple, modest-sized room with a king-sized bed and a TV and a bathroom…big deal.
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Take The Plunge

In this featurette for Rob Marshall‘s Into The Woods (12.25), Disney marketers have actually decided to use a little sliver of Stephen Sondheim‘s score and thereby admit it’s a musical. Encouraging! They’ve been keeping this little aspect under wraps, you see. Last July’s trailer contained no music at all. Now they’re leaking it out, note by note.

Click here to jump past the Oscar Balloon

Best Picture Likelies: 1. Birdman (HE approved); 2. Boyhood; 3. Gone Girl (HE approved); 4. The Theory of Everything; 5. The Imitation Game; 6. Whiplash (HE approved); 7. Foxcatcher; 8. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Unseen Best Picture Spitballs: 1. Interstellar; 2. A Most Violent Year; 3. American Sniper; 4. The Gambler; 5. Into The Woods; 6. Selma; 7. Unbroken; 8. Big Eyes.

Cult: Inherent Vice. Sturdy Generic WWII Actioner: Fury.

Most Visually Ravishing, "Painterly" Best Picture Contender: Mr. Turner, although I'd like to see it with subtitles down the road.

Best Director: Alejandro González Inarritu, Birdman (HE approved); 2. Richard Linklater, Boyhood; 3. David Fincher, Gone Girl (HE approved); 4. James Marsh, The Theory of Everything; 5. Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game; 6. Damian Chazelle, Whiplash; 7. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher; 8. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Tragic Absence of Sublime, World-Class Lead Performance due to (no offense to Roadside) an overly cautious release strategy: Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy.

Best Director Maybes: Christopher Nolan, Interstellar; JC Chandor, A Most Violent Year; Angelina Jolie, Unbroken; David Ayer, Fury; Clint Eastwood, American Sniper.

Best Actor: 1. Michael Keaton, Birdman (HE approved); 2. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; 3. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; 4. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; 5. Tom Hardy, The Drop/Locke. 6. Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner (despite my inability to hear half of Spall's dialogue due to his all-but-indecipherable British working-class accent); 7. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; 9. Ben Affleck, Gone Girl; 9. Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins.

Best Actress: 1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice (is Sony Pictures Classics going to screen this any time soon or what?); 2. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; 3. Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year/Miss Julie/Eleanor Rigby; 4. Anne Dorval, Mommy; 5. Reese Witherspoon, Wild; 6. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; 7. Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars; 8. Amy Adams, Big Eyes.

Best Supporting Actor: 1. Edward Norton, Birdman (HE approved); 2. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (HE approved); 3. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; 4. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; 5. Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year; 6. Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice.

Best Supporting Actress: 1. Emma Stone, Birdman (HE approved); 2. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; 3. Kristen Stewart, Still Alice / Clouds of Sils Maria / Camp X-Ray; 4. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; 5. Jessica Lange, The Gambler; 6. Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher.

 

Curse of Thrompy, Super-Cranked Theatre Sound

The sound at the TCL Chinese during last night’s Interstellar screening was so bassy and woofer-throbby and aimed at my rib cage that I couldn’t hear half the dialogue. My ears felt left out, not to mention the part of my brain that enjoys hearing words and sentences and…you know, understanding what’s up and putting it all together. And don’t say it’s just me because five or six others were saying the same thing in the lobby after the show. I for one was particularly flummmoxed by Matthew McConaughey‘s dialogue due to his shitkicker accent on top of everything else. I’d hear a word or sometimes a phrase now and then, and sometimes an actual whole sentence or two. But there was no winning. I realized that early on. The atmospheric rumbles and impact sounds and vibrating whomps are top-of-the-line, but too many sound systems in too many state-of-the-art theatres are calibrated so that the shake-rattle-and-roll stuff rules above all. This is the way it unfortunately is today, and for me is frankly another reason to think twice about going to the megaplex. People expect to hear sound so strong and pulverizing that their bones vibrate and their inner organs detach and collapse in a heap. Has anyone in the Los Angeles area been to that 4D Motion FX theatre in Oxnard? This is what a lot of people want these days. The problem is that vibrating rib cages are at war with being able to hear simple speech. I could hear a lot of what’s being said last night — don’t get me wrong. But enough dialogue was obscured or murky enough for the experience to be a general pain in the ass. You know when I’ll be able to understand all of Interstellar? Without having to lean forward and cup my ears or make faces? When I watch it next summer on Bluray with my own home system with my personally calibrated sound bar and woofer.

Savannah Lite

My LAX-to-Atlanta plane leaves at 6:30 am. A 90-minute layover and then a connection flight to Savannah. I don’t know if Delta offers wifi these days but I wouldn’t put it past them if they didn’t. I won’t be at Savannah’s Marshall House until 6 pm Eastern. 9:20 am Pacific Update: Missed 6:30 flight — don’t ask. Took 7:30 am flight. Sitting semi-miserably in seat 40D. Listening to Television’s “See No Evil.” But at least Delta has on-board wifi. Likelihood of missing the Atlanta-to-Savannah flight (35 minutes between LAX flight landing and Savannah flight departing) is high-ish. 1:45 pm or 4:45 pm Eastern Update: Sitting next to Gate B6 inside Atlanta’s William Tecumseh Sherman Airport. Seriously, it’s called Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Savannah flight leaves at 4:40 pm.

Sad Tale Surfaces

It’s been revealed that the late Elizabeth Pena (La Bamba, Rush Hour), whose recent passing was attributed to “natural causes after a brief illness” by her manager Gina Rugolo, died of alcohol abuse. A death certificate obtained by CNN says the actress died from “cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock, acute gastrointestinal bleeding, and cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol.” Pena, who recently played Sofia Vergara‘s mom on Modern Family, succumbed on 10.14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. When I questioned the curious initial explanation, I was trashed by HE commenters Dave Strot and Herr Plop, among others.

My Tweets Are Sealed


Following Thursday evening’s screening of Chris Nolan’s Interstellar (Paramount, 11.5) — (l. to r.) moderator Pete Hammond, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain — TCL Chinese, Thursday, 10.23, 9:35 pm or thereabouts.

First Serious Interstellar Tweets

Those Fort Hood guys had no balls except for that “play with my balls” guy. All they did was monkey-chat after Interstellar screened there four days ago. And forget last night’s elite industry screening at the California Science Center. It’s not in the DNA of “talent” — actors, directors, writers — to share anything but effusive, damp-love comments. No, the only thing that matters are the opinions of the tough guys (journalists, critics, columnists) who are about to see Interstellar in Manhattan, and who will see it in Los Angeles starting at 6:30 pm Pacific. It’s now 6:05 pm back there. Chris Nolan‘s film begins at 6:30 pm, and with the film running 169 minutes (2 hours and 49 minutes) it will break around…oh, roughly 9:20 pm or 6:20 pm Pacific. The first tweets will start about 20 or 25 minutes after that. Obviously the L.A. gang won’t start tweeting until 9:40 or 9:45 pm Pacific.

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Oozing Contempt

William F. Buckley‘s loathing of the late ’60s counter culture was delicious. In his mind the word “hippie” was nearly inseparable from “fecal matter.” It wasn’t an act — Buckley really felt and meant it deep down. On top of which you could almost take pleasure in that velvety purring daddy voice without considering his words. He seemed to also hate queers (or so Gore Vidal believed) or at the very least had little tolerance for them. I don’t know from Yablonsky but the murky alcoholic gloom of Jack Kerouac (“I’ve lost the entire train of thought”)…yeesh. Ed Sanders (Village Fugs, “The Family“) was obviously a fairly sharp guy. But Buckley’s snooty patrician vibes…that’s entertainment.

Time Is Not On His Side

Is there any Steven Spielberg film apart from Schindler’s List that has truly aged well? Or, to put it another way, that seems better now than it did when it first opened? Or that hindsight hasn’t exposed as improbable and manipulative and always pitched to the cheap seats? Be honest. Spielberg has often made great high-craft, flash-in-the-pan popcorn movies, but no major director of the 20th Century will (trust me) be more disparaged by the passage of time. I don’t even know if I can stand to watch E.T. again, and I loved it 32 years ago. Who today talks with real admiration about Cecil B. DeMille? Spielberg is regarded as a big wheel because he’s a multi-billionaire and his films are tremendously popular. Except popularity is the slutty cousin of prestige. The one film in this Bluray collection that I’d like to see on Bluray? 1941. Stanley Kubrick allegedly once suggested that Spielberg make it as a drama. When Kubrick saw the finished film, he told Spielberg (according to Spielberg at Kubrick’s wake in ’99), “This is a very well-made film…it’s not funny but it’s very well made.”

Sounded Better When Ripped

For my money, the Grateful Dead was a clumsy doobie-toke garage band that had…what, two or three hit singles, okay, but their greatness was in their sloppy extended jam improvs that sometimes (I emphasize that word) resulted in some amazing passages. The Dead could be awful or certainly tedious one night and then inspired or even cosmically transcendent the next. For me their peak was the “Live/Dead” album, which was recorded at the Fillmore West and other venues in early ’69 and released in the fall of that year. (Rock critic Robert Christgau allegedly wrote that side two of the double album “contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded.”) Jerry Garcia‘s sometimes beautiful, sometimes barely sufficient playing between the two- and three-minute mark in the “Turn On Your Love Light”…if you can get this portion, you’ll have a place in your heart for the Dead. Stoned, immaculate…Captain Trips. But it’ll always help if you have a little weed. In any event Amir Bar-Lev (Happy Valley, The Tillman Story) will direct a definitive Grateful Dead doc with Martin Scorsese producing. The doc, out next year, will celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary.

Father Merrin to Father Karras: “There Are Only Two”

In Contention‘s Kris Tapley knows there are only two Best Supporting Actor contenders with any real shot at winning — Birdman‘s Edward Norton and Whiplash‘s J.K. Simmons. It’s strictly a mano e mano between these guys. Tapley knows that, I know that, you know that, your average 68 year-old Academy member knows that, the guy who works at Astroburgers on Santa Monica Blvd. knows that. But for the sake of stroking the other contenders (five will be selected) Tapley kicked around some names in a piece that posted yesterday afternoon. Tyler Perry in Gone Girl — locked. I’m in favor of Albert Brooks being nominated for A Most Violent Year because (a) you know he’ll be really good (he always is) and (b) the Academy having ignored his Drive performance means he’s “owed”. Josh Brolin could be nominated for playing Bigfoot in Inherent Vice, but the loathing for this film is going to be intense once it starts screening. (If anyVice actor has a serious shot, it’s Martin Short but his part is too small.) Ethan Hawke could be nominated for Boyhood — I could see that.

Poland vs. Tapley, or Continuing Best Actor Pushback

With an apparently straight face, MCN’s David Poland has stated that Interstellar‘s Matthew McConaughey has a shot (i.e., “not so long a shot”) at being nominated for Best Actor. What is it about the words “forget it” that Poland doesn’t understand? Love Is Strange‘s John Lithgow has a better shot at being nominated than McConaughey. People just want McConaughey to back off. The more he weeps about missing his children in Interstellar, the worse it’ll be. Zip it.

But Poland is just getting warmed up. His next statement comes close to dismissing this aspect of the Oscar tea-leaf perceptions of In Contention‘s Kris Tapley. “I don’t buy into the idea — at all — that there are four locked places in Best Actor,” Poland says. “That doesn’t mean that I think that four of the current five frontrunners won’t end up making it,” he explains. “That could well happen. But the only actor I consider cemented into a nomination is Michael Keaton. Great performance, great story, super-strong movie. In. (more…)

HE to Ira Sachs: Love Is Strange Won’t Win Gotham Awards Best Film Prize

Minutes after the Gotham Independent Film Award nominations were revealed this morning, the Hollywood Elsewhere Gotham Award winners were announced.

Best Feature: Why did we have to choose between Birdman and Boyhood? Why couldn’t the HE Gothams split the difference and give a Best Soulful If Abusive Family Film With a Time-Gimmick Award to Boyhood and Best Middle-Aged Creative Anguish Floating Steadicam Dark Comedy Award to Birdman? Why does it have to be an either-or? Okay, fine….Birdman.

Best Documentary: Sorry, Steve James, but it has to go to Citizenfour. I’m not being facile because I really am sorry, hombre, but…you know. The Academy pudgheheads (some of whom, trust me, are shrugging their shoulders as some of them always do whenever a truly momentous doc comes along) have to be instructed that Citizenfour is an instant classic. I’d like to say there was a lot of anguish and deliberation involved in deciding this but there wasn’t. Honest, non-hostile question: Why wasn’t Rory Kennedy‘s Last Days in Vietnam at least nominated? Is it because she’s a West Coast gal?

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award: Dear White People‘s Justin Simien, not because the film is anything special (I barely got through my viewing at Sundance ’14) but because every critic on the face of the globe thought it was great and because Simien is cappucino and…well, you know, we don’t want to make the wrong call. My real choice is Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy for delivering a seriously clean, sharp and malignant melodrama, and for creating the most original monster of the year in Jake Gyllenhaal‘s video-hound Lou. HE’s Runner-up award goes to Coherence‘s James Ward Byrkit, a good fellow who made a highly gripping, zero-FX horror film. (more…)

Cultural Genocide Thing

“Look, I’m no purist — there are good superhero films and there are bad ones. Movies started out as an extension of a magic trick so making a spectacle is part of the game. I had a lot of fun designing a huge fucking metal eagle to attack New York City. It’s just that we’ve been overwhelmed by these movies now. They keep taking up room that could be going to smaller films. [Not] art films…I fucking hate that term. No, films about human beings. Those aren’t art films. They should just be called ‘films.'” — Birdman director Alejandro G. Inarritu speaking to Rolling Stone‘s David Fear.

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Desire Is Life

If this perfect little scene isn’t in Rupert Wyatt, William Monahan and Mark Wahlberg‘s The Gambler (Paramount, 12.19), I’ll sure take it badly of them. A little on the nose but eloquent — a nice clean pocket drop.


Beefy Keanu vs. Russian Bad Guy Shooting-Gallery Ducks

You know what John Wick is? John Wick is basically that moment in Collateral when Tom Cruise drills those two thieves in the alley, a shooting so fast and ruthless that the bad guys barely get a chance to go “whoa” before they’re dead. Keanu Reeves‘ titular character gets to kill bad guys as quickly and mercilessly as this all through the damn film. When Cruise did it in Collateral it was fleet and beautiful. In John Wick Reeves does it at least 80 or 90 times — shootings, stabbings, neck-crackings, shotgun blastings, stranglings — and after the 15th or 20th time it’s like “okay, man, I get it — he’s the Terminator.” And everybody in the film, amusingly, knows and respects this. And none of them offer criticisms or warnings of any kind. “Hey, John…okay, cool, no worries…just do your thing.”

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Snappy, Harvard-Educated, To-The-Manor-Born Tough Guy

The late Ben Bradlee “was an intriguing man,” Robert Redford has written in a brief statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter. “Bold, strong-willed and smart with a wicked and sometimes perverse sense of humor. He was unique in a world of so much conventional wisdom. With a sailor’s swagger and a tart tongue to match, he forged a new type of character as editor-in-chief of a newspaper in a time of change. It was a world I never expected was possible from just a newspaper. It was 1974, and Watergate was about to happen. To Bradlee combat was sport and he was a very good sport.” Wait…Watergate was “about” to happen in ’74? It had been happening since June 1972. The only thing left in ’74 was Nixon’s resignation, which finally happened in August.

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Big Bopper

The initial whammo-schmammo press screening of Chris Nolan‘s Interstellar happens early Thursday evening (i.e., tomorrow night), but I’d better not say where. The review embargo goes up on Monday morning but immediate post-screening tweets are good to go. I’m expecting somewhere between an 8 and 8.5 experience. I’m not expecting a 9 based on what that Fort Hood “play with my balls” guy said last weekend. Cheers to Nolan for not shooting this thing in 3D. Seriously, I love him for that. And I adore the fact that Paramount will be showing it in 70mm non-digital IMAX. How many more times is that likely to happen? This could be the last time. It’s certainly one of the last times. The celluloid sentimentalists are few in number and surrounded on all sides.

Richard Burton Sings

“How to handle a woman? ‘There’s a way,’ said the wise old man. ‘A way known by ev’ry woman since the whole rigmarole began.’

“‘Do I flatter her?’ I begged him answer. ‘Do I threaten or cajole or plead? Do I brood or play the gay romancer?’ Said he, smiling: ‘No indeed.’

“‘How to handle a woman? Mark me well, I will tell you, sir. The way to handle a woman is to tolerate her…gently tolerate her…lovingly tolerate her…tolerate her…tolerate her.'”

— “How to Handle A Woman,” a Richard Burton/Richard Harris song from Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot (1961).

Wahlberg’s Tour de Force of Self-Destruction

I’ve been waiting on this puppy for a long time. You can tell that slimmed-down Mark Wahlberg, who knows gambling and street energy and the old risk-until-you’re-almost-toast thing, knows what he’s doing. He gets it, he’s there…his spiritual sweet spot. You can also tell that Jessica Lange has her steely mom thing down pat. How about John Goodman rocking the baldie, eh? Serious shit.

Shakedown

Poor Zak (formerly called Jazz) is getting castrated at Laurel Pet Hospital today. I don’t know where I got the idea that a neutering operation costs around $300, but I’m wrong. If I hadn’t told the vet to forget about doing a blood work test (on a seven-month-old kitten in the prime of life?) I’d be paying $100 more. If I hadn’t told her to forget about a flea treatment I’d be paying over $600. (I have some flea treatment stuff at home, thanks.) If I hadn’t told them to forget about giving Zak his final boosters I’d be paying $750 or so. Edgar Buchanan to Alan Ladd in Shane: “S’matter, son? You look kinda pale.”

Eye of the Beholder

The “new” Renee Zellweger looks nice these days. Pretty, relaxed, well-tended. But the fact that she bears little if any resemblance to the actress who starred in Jerry Maguire, Cold Mountain, Bridget Jones Diary and Chicago has caught people’s attention. And wouldn’t you know it but Zellweger and Hollywood Elsewhere will probably cross paths next Monday (10.27) at the Savannah Film Festival. (I’ll be there between Friday, 10.24 and Tuesday, 10.28.) Why is her “work” getting all this attention now, a week before she shows up in Savannah with guys like me hanging around? What, for that matter, has Ms. Zellweger done lately? I’m in no way chuckling or making light of the fact that her career has been slowing down. It happens. It’s tough. There but for the grace of God.

But in a very real appearance sense the Zellweger of 10 or 15 years ago has been pretty much erased. The spirit and personality are presumably still intact, of course, but I really, genuinely, honest-to-God don’t recognize her…although she does look pleasant and attractive as far as those terms go. The eyes, the jaw…really strange.

First-rate “work” is supposed to enhance, de-sag and de-age so subtly that people notice a certain improvement without wondering how or chattering behind your back. That’s how it used to be, at least. Maybe the new aesthetic is “don’t make yourself look slightly younger…throw your entire face out in the trash and start over clean with a nice, fresh newbie.” Imagine what Rod Serling would make of this.

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