No Turkey Wattles on Campaign Trail

If Joe Biden had somehow become the 2016 Democratic candidate for president instead of Hillary Clinton, he almost certainly would have won. Because he’s more recognizably warm and human than Donald Trump, and the Bumblefucks who went for Trump would have said “Biden talks plain and straight and has a heart…let’s give him a shot.” But Biden is 74 now, and I don’t think people will be hugely comfortable with a 78 year-old becoming the nation’s Commander-in-chief. The cut-off is 75, or Bernie Sanders‘ age. But if Biden runs anyway, he has to take care of that awful turkey wattle. Which is nothing these days. Neck wattle surgery is less arduous than having an appendectomy, akin to having a wisdom tooth removed. Biden had hair-plug surgery back in the ’80s so he knows all about this stuff.

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Howell Suggests; Stone Fixes

In a 4.18 post titled “Last Days of Classic HE,” I mentioned a bothersome aspect of the redesign. The smartphone edition (different than the laptop version) will, I said, “be narrower than the wide-angle laptop version, which will result in some elements (like my headshot) being sliced off.” Yesterday (4.19) Toronto Star critic Peter Howell urged that I keep my mug on the smartphone version. “The vast majority of clicks these days come via smartphone, not laptops,” he reminded. “Hollywood Elsewhere is very much associated with your personality, and I think it would be a mistake to have your face clipped from the masthead for the mobile version.” I forwarded this to the tireless Sasha Stone, who’s handling the re-design. Late last night she sent along her solution — perfect!

Also: The redesign will definitely include a “Classic HE” sidebar (pear cake, “Loud Latinos“, cowboy hat, Oxford wifigate, Hispanic party elephant, HE vs. Jezebel, Paris, Hanoi/Vietnam, “What I’ve Learned“, neck wattle surgery, “Tale of Two Flophouses“, Schumergate, shrieking hyena laughter, etc.) along with a movie reviews sidebar.

The Clarity Of Mind That Comes To A Man Standing On The Gallows

If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times. If you’re a 60-plus actor you need to lose the droopy neck wattle. It’s about as complex as having your teeth cleaned, and if your surgeon isn’t a complete idiot it won’t look like anything. You can still look weathered and grizzled and all that other other sexy saddlebag stuff. You can even keep a slight neck wattle, but droopies are impossible. And Sam Elliott knows this. Joe Biden‘s neck wattle has been driving me crazy, and he refuses to do the thing. It’s like walking around with your fly open.

From a 1.21.17 Hollywood Reporter review, written by John Frosch: “In The Hero, unlike in most of his other projects, Elliott appears in nearly every frame as Lee Hayden, an over-the-hill Western film star whose cancer diagnosis prompts him to plan a comeback, reconnect with his estranged daughter and romance a younger woman. If that story sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it before, with tweaks and variations, in movies like The Verdict, Tender Mercies, The Wrestler, Crazy Heart and many more. (more…)

If Hillary Picks Tom “Even Worse Than Tim Kaine” Vilsack For Her VP, Something Inside Me (My Soul?) Will Shrivel and Die

As a prospective Democratic vp candidate Tom Vilsack, the current Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa governor from ’99 through ’07, is an even more depressing prospect that Virginia Senator Tim “basketball-head” Kaine, whom Hillary also likes.  Hillary needs a running mate with charisma, eloquence and pizazz — qualities she lacks.  There’s something odiously settled and sedate about the guy. He’s in no way an X-factor type. That jowly, heavyish face (he has a semi-inflated-balloon neck wattle) makes him look like a Pavillions manager or a cattle owner or an airline pilot or some guy who lives down the street and mows his lawn every weekend. He looks like a family man who eats meat loaf, mashed potatoes and string beans every other night. Vilsack seems like a decent fellow, but the dullness! I don’t want this platitudinous meathead taking over if Hillary should meet with tragedy. I want my girl Elizabeth Warren. This is awful…awful.

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Bernie Finally Endorses Hillary

Was it really so awful, so devastating, so crippling to the cause that Bernie Sanders waited five weeks to endorse Hillary Clinton? If Sanders had capitulated right after the California primary, his supporters would have seen that as a shameful betrayal. Bernie “hung on”, quixotically, because he and his team wanted progressive Democratic platform concessions that probably wouldn’t have happened if he’d conceded in early June. You know the Clintons.

Does anyone except Sasha Stone seriously believe that Donald Trump might prevail in November? Hillary is naturally and unstoppably self-destructive, agreed, but there are no more threats hanging over her now. No more emails, no more Benghazis…nothing except the unfortunate fact that millions and millions of people don’t like her much.

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,” Sanders said this morning. “She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.

“I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future. That future will be shaped more by what happens on November 8th in voting booths across our nation than by any other event in the world. I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president. Mainly because Donald Trump must not win. Please. Get real. Oh, right…the yokels out there have a different idea of what that means.

“Am I concerned that Secretary Clinton isn’t Elizabeth Warren? That she’s not really on the Sanders-Warren revolution team? That she’s more of a practical minded center-right Atlanticist than a real lefty? Am I concerned that Susan Sarandon is contemplating driving off the Grand Canyon as we speak? Does the fact that Hillary has been nurturing all of those cozy, amicable relationships with Wall Street billionaires give me a moment of pause? Of course it does. Of course I am. (more…)

Ask Yourself — How Likely Is It That Clinton Will Serve Two Terms?

Ronald Reagan was a few days shy of 70 when he was first sworn in as President on 1.20.81, and was just a few days away from turning 78 when his second term ended on 1.20.89. Hillary Clinton will be 69 and 1/4 when she takes office next January, and will be 77 when she wraps her second term, if and when. I’m not predicting or presuming anything, but I wonder how invested she’ll be in being re-elected in 2020 or (I’m just speculating) she might be of a mind to pass the torch and get a little r & r with her grandkids while she has the time and the health. Bernie Sanders wouldn’t back off at all if he got elected. He’ll work the treadmill, lift weights, eat right and charge on until his late 90s. Bernie will bop until he drops. But Hillary…who knows? And what about Gavin Newsom? Because after Hillary’s two terms, the electorate will definitely be in a mood for someone without a cackly laugh or a neck wattle. And you know what else? By the time Hillary leaves office in 2025 it’ll be time for a Millenial presidential candidate or two. I define Millenials as those born in the mid ’80s and beyond, so right now the oldest Millenials are about 30 and by ’23 or ’24 they’ll be in their late 30s and/or pushing 40, or three or four years older than they legally need to be to run for President (i.e., 35).

Rock Hudson’s Only Ecstatic, Non-Repressed Moment In His Entire Career

Repressed sexuality is a major undercurrent in John Frankenheimer‘s Seconds (’66), signaling the sexual revolution movement among middle-class Americans in the 1960s. And so it’s easy to see why Rock Hudson, whose double life was a constant throughout his career despite its widespread knowledge throughout the industry, was drawn to a picture about the manipulation of appearances and the denial of one’s inner self.

“Before John Randolph opts into the program, there’s a bedroom scene where his wife makes her way onto her husband’s separate bed. She offers herself up to him, but he remains cold and unwilling, the moment as unsexy a depiction of middle-aged sexuality as ever to appear in cinema.

“Later, after his transformation into Wilson, Hamilton attends the bacchanalia festival with Nora (Salome Jens) and finds himself uncomfortable in his surroundings. Free spirits disrobe to their nethers and gaily dance about, the frantic cutting of the sequence reflecting Hamilton’s discomfort with his own desire to join them. He stands on the margins, watching, enticed and ashamed for it, until Nora strips and leaps into a grape crushing vat along with countless nude others.

“Finally the crowd gathers him and, though he protests, forces off his clothes; he’s plunged into the vat and covered in grape must. Clinging to Nora, he at last lets go and begins to shout with ecstasy and joy. Hamilton’s sexual repression seems cured, a hopeful idea for Hudson, whose secret could not be so easily or publically freed from its constraints at the time.” — from Brian Eggart’s Deep Focus review, posted on 8.18.12. (more…)

Doddering Infidelity

Andrew Haigh‘s 45 Years was a hit with all the critics at the Berlin Film Festival. The wonderful Charlotte Rampling won the festival’s Best Actress award as the wife of Tom Courtenay, whose character has been curiously in love with a woman who’s been missing for half a century, or since 1965 (which is when Courtney played “Strelnikov” in Dr. Zhivago). Pic is about what happens when a letter notifies Courtney that the dead body of his long-lost love has been found. Wells to Haigh, Courtenay and Rampling: Do you really expect an audience to care about this situation? If you’re in love with someone who isn’t your wife but you haven’t seen this other woman, much less fucked her, in 50 years does that even qualify as infidelity? Who cares? Sidenote: Courtenay has been aging terribly for a long time, but now he looks like a mummy. I realize that he’s 78, but he really should “do” something about the neck wattle and accept the fact that the two-week beardo thing is profoundly unattractive when you’re old.

Perfect Night, All Was Right

I attended last night’s Brian Wilson concert at L.A.’s Greek theatre, courtesy of the Love & Mercy team at Roadside. I went with mixed expectations. One, I’d seen Wilson and his backup band give a pleasant but not-exactly-knockout show at a UCLA venue about nine or ten years ago, and who knew if this show would be as good? It might be worse. And two, I’d been told by a friend that a typical Wilson audience these days is wall-to-wall oldsters — baldies, pot bellies, white hair, neck wattles, tent-like Hawaiian shirts — and the thought of being part of such a throng depressed me to no end. I loved the drive up to the Greek (the weather was warm and dry and the various fragrances in the air were to die for) but as I approached the main entrance I was asking myself, “Do I really want to be here?”

Well, my fears were unfounded. The crowd was definitely younger than expected (a healthy blend of people of all ages) and the show was far and away the best Beach Boys/Brian Wilson concert I’ve ever been lucky enough to savor. Paul Merten‘s tight ten-piece band (eleven counting Wilson) just knocked the shit out of 32 Wilson songs, and I’m sorry but it felt truly joyful start to finish. Nobody was cutting the band any slack — they were delivering like champs, gloriously smooth and clean and confident.

About three or four songs into the show I turned to Madelyn Hammond (there with Pete) on my right and said, “Wow, the band is really good!” She agreed 100%. Two seconds later a bewigged Paul Giamatti leaned over and said to me, “What? What did you say to Madelyn?” I looked at him and said, “It’s none of your fucking business!” I’m kidding — Giamatti wasn’t there. (more…)

Aftermath

My favorite line of the night came when the Mexican-born Alfonso Cuaron thanked “the wise guys of Warner Brothers.” If he hadn’t corrected himself the implication would have been that the WB guys are a little bit shady, a gang of gamblers and connivers and goodfellas, etc. Which probably isn’t too far from the truth. My heart sank when Cuaron restated himself by saying “the wise people of Warner Brothers!” I prefer to think that “wise guys” was a Freudian slip rather than a mis-applied term, but Cuaron, who is absolutely one of the most articulate guys I know in this town (along with Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), will never cop to this.

“Tonight, there are so many different possibilities. Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists! Now, for our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway!” An HE colleague asks the following: “Does anyone think maybe, just maybe the producers who hired the ‘safe’ Ellen over an edgier choice would really let her tell what is essentially a Chris Rock joke at the top of the show unless they knew 12 Years A Slave was the winner?” Zadan and Meron could be the new Gil Cates (i.e., they want the gig for years and years), and I don’t think they would let her call the Academy racist ‘in quotes’ unless they knew that joke had a happy ending. Of course they have control over her script. The writers included former SNL people and so I’m sure they threw out some even edgier stuff.” My response: You’re presuming that the Price Waterhouse guys share the results with the producers. But you’re right about one thing — that was a Chris Rock joke, and if he had been hosting and told it instead of Ellen it would have gotten a different reaction. (more…)

Honest and Ballsy

The just-released poster for Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska (Paramount, 11.22) tells you it’s a serious award-season film about the stark realities of aging. (Obviously similar to the 2002 one-sheet for Payne’s About Schmidt.) My white hair is so sparse that I might as well be bald plus I have a neck wattle plus I’ve won a million bucks from Publisher’s Clearing House plus I’ve been an abusive drunk for most of my life plus my old friends and relatives sit around their living rooms and watch TV like immobile zombies. No sedatives, no soothing bromides to speak of, no emotional comforts of the usual sort.

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Operating Table

In their latest (8.1) newsletter, the board of the Elitist Fraternity of Film Dweebs reminded readers that (and I quote) “under no circumstance will any EFFD members be permitted to say anything that doesn’t enthusiastically praise Criterion’s Bluray of John Frankenheimer‘s Seconds.” I understand the ruling, but I bought this Bluray at Amoeba last night and then drove home and watched it. And watched it. And watched it. And I’m telling you it’s a black drag to sit through. A dark, creepy, chilly-hearted downer from start to finish. Mainly about malevolence and threats and intimidation and dread. “Interesting,” yes, because of the creepy Orwellian (or do I mean Burroughsian?) tone and James Wong Howe‘s nightmarish black-and-white cinematography. But it’s mostly punishing.

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Fat, Grizzled Bikers Impressed By Ghost of Easy Rider‘s Wyatt

This Mercedes AMG GT Roadster spot is okay, I guess, in a dopey, broadly satirical sort of way, but what’s happened to the Coen brothers? I’m asking because after Peter Fonda turns over the engine there’s an insert shot of a couple of full glasses of beer shuddering so badly they nearly tip over. That’s not cool, not the Coen brothers style. The Coens of yore would have shown a closeup of the beers vibrating ever so slightly without the glasses moving — still a bullshit notion but it would have passed muster. Comment #2: A single Mercedes “blocks in” motorcycles belonging to…what, at least 12 or 15 bikers? Comment #3: Fonda could use a little neck-wattle surgery and a thousand micro-hair-plug grafts. He needs to at least try to look like Terry Valentine again. Aging is inevitable, but you can at least make an effort to shave a decade or so.

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Second Thoughts

Rand Paul is going to be the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee. It has suddenly occured to me that his older GenX credentials (born in January 1963) and non-interventionist inclinations (linked to his general Libertarian views) may find support among Millenials. My younger son Dylan was a fan of his father, Ron Paul, in 2004. There also may be a general feeling of resentment or instinctual dislike of Hillary Clinton, who of course represents the entrenched swagger of the boomer establishment. I still don’t think this will prevent her election, which will be favored by a great majority of women (including the rural idiots) for the symbolic element alone. But she won’t win in a walk. Update: If HRC would just have a little eye-bag and neck-wattle work done, she’d be all the stronger.

Adele + Brainy Urbane Ogre

This Charlie Rose Show interview with Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s Adele Exarchopoulos is 11 days old…big deal. She was and still is my Critics Choice/BFCA pick for the 2103 Best Actress award. Will the insulated Academy farts even nominate her? Related issues: (a) How high-powered is her publicist? (b) How much schmoozing has Exarchopoulos done at industry parties? (c) How much money has Blue made? These are things that matter a great deal.

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Political Pundits Won’t Say It

If Hillary Clinton is going to run for the Presidency in 2016, she’s going to have to look as good as Ronald Reagan did when he ran in 1980 — it’s that simple. Nobody worried about Reagan pushing 70 when he ran against Jimmy Carter (RR turned 69 in early ’80, having been born on 2.6.11) because he looked 55. But Hillary, who will turn 68 when the ’16 campaign begins in late ’15 (she was born on 10.26.47) and 69 just before 2016 election day, looks her age. You can argue that her looks won’t and shouldn’t matter, and you would be wrong. They always do.

On top of which Clinton had a health scare when she