“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”? Another Unncecessary Remake, That’s What!

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Is a Remake Sacriligious? Even if it gives us more Crazy to Love?

So it’s official, and has been for a month or so.  Whatever Happened to “Baby Jane”?  It’s Getting a Remake.  Which seemed to me to be one of the silliest decisions I’ve encountered since Hollywood tried to remake The Women and ended up pouring bong water over the embers of Meg Ryan’s career.

But naturally they’re at it again.  It’s clear they’ll never learn, because here’s a little sample of Hollywood logic for you:  “The idea is to make a modern film without modernizing the period.  It needs to resonate the golden age of Hollywood.”  These words were uttered by Walter Hill, who was chosen to be the director of this remake.  The man is doubtless an artist, whose upcoming Stallone film, Bullet to the Head, will rival Grand Illusion for delicacy and depth.  How the hell could anything resonate the golden age of Hollywood more thoroughly than Bette Davis impaling herself on Joan Crawford’s falsies, before kicking her to the head? 

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NYC Films on the Green, Summer 2012: OSS 117, Cairo Nest of Spies

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Cairo, Nest of SpiesI never understood the allure of James Bond films–or rather, I never understood why the hell anyone would admit to being a fan of  such pendulously dull male adolescent fantasies.  I’d get it if these films had been screened like nudie films used to be, in select ares of Times Square, where those burdened with a shameful yen for cartoonish dialogue + farm hand’s ideas of fancy living could go see ol’ Jimmy drive his purty car and spar with follically challenged villains.  But who’d have thought such heavyhanded silliness would become so culturally entrenched?

But as usual, my sense of what will be admired and duplicated is wrong wrong wrong.  And (she points out with a girlishly raised index finger) I was born too late to get all jazzed up by cold war hi-jinks in the cinema.  The early 60s were a fermentative and frightening era, and Jimmy B’s smug suavity calmed WWII victors’ fears of just what the fuck the Communists were percolating behind their Iron Curtain, while here in capitalistic society men were wrapping their minds around the honestly world-changing fact that women could now actually have sex without getting pregnant, and quite frequently chose to do so with people other than their husbands. . .but still.  “Plenty O’Toole?” “Pussy Galore”? 

Yawn.   Continue reading

The Wilde World of “Nothing Sacred”

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Love.

Stephen Fry as Wilde

I like any chance I get to think about Oscar Wilde, and there are surprisingly frequent opportunities in life to do so:  Whenever one gives in to temptation, sees ghastly wallpaper, or greets a widow with newly blonded hair.  Anytime you encounter someone so improbably youthful that you assume they have a ghoulish self-portrait in their attic.  Whenever you write in a diary, or stay in a cheap hotel room in Paris, or leave your family to run across town to spend time with a pretty, mean-spirited young lover whose daddy is a Marquess and an inventor of boxing rules.  Whenever someone in this world cannot find it in their hearts to believe that small-minded people are out to destroy them, and ends up doomed by their optimism. 

But most often, and increasingly, one thinks of Wilde whenever brackened, unformed life lurches from the primordial mire and shapes itself. . .into an imitation of art.  As happened in New York recently.  (Ah!  New York–the place where Wilde, upon his first visit, informed customs officials that the only thing he had to declare was his genius.  See?  Dude’s everywhere.) Continue reading

The Beauty of Your Youth: Clara Bow Receives a Kindness.

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Clara Bow

Hello, You Must be Going! Coop’s in the Armoire, and Gilbert’s at the door!

A while back I wrote of one tragic sex zombie, and referred to Clara Bow
as having written the script of that now all-too-familiar scenario:  Girl from unsettled family with ambitious/crazy mother and absent/worse father ends up in Hollywood and ignites the screen.  She becomes the hot ticket in town, going through the A-list men like tissues but somehow never finding affection– while her insecurities and anger slowly sabotage her career, ravage her beauty, and finally subsume her life force. Continue reading

Noir (et Blanc): Weegee and “The Loving Story” on HBO

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The Loving Story: HBO on Tuesday at 9

I spend my nights the way most New Yorkers do, embracing my apartment’s quietude, clutching its peacefulness to me the way an emphysematic does their oxygen–the nights are precious because the days are filled with so much noise and shouting and crowded sidewalks and no seat on the subway and people richer than anyone needs to be and those poorer than any nation should allow.  You learn a lot of zen, walking around this town.  My nightime quietude is also fragile; it’s nothing more than a decision reversible at any time, which renders it lovelier.  There’s loads I could be doing out at night, in the Naked City.  My apartment is on the 16th floor, and sometimes the night skyline beckons brightly.  Sometimes I remember Updike’s quote about New York being the only city which, even when you’re in it, glitters at a distance.  Sometimes I grab my coat and go out to see the creative, the fabulous, the city’s blind rush towards the future and (far more interesting to me) its reflection on the past. Continue reading

Twentieth Century Tweets, Part II: Writers, Politicians, and the Telegram

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Hunchback 1939 PosterA quick one today, as is suitable for the subject (content follows form as casting follows couch), though nothing as quick as ol Victor Hugo could apparently be, when paying per word.  . . but more on that later.

Politics make strange bedfellows, we always hear, and of course writers are strange just on their own.  The former set loves to stand in the center of a room making bold pronouncements while having nothing to say, while the other group tends to creep around the fringes, offended that no one notices their astute (muttered) asides.

Politicos retire and make millions drawling reductive tales into microphones, while authors are lucky if they grab sufficient shekels to support their bar tab. Bar tabs that are created by the author having to review books like, say, Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, knowing that out in the world people are doing more pleasant things.  Things like having hornets inserted in their nostrils, or bathing in raw sewage while Newt Gingrich leeringly massages their scalp.

“More sage oil, please!”

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Twentieth Century Tweets: The Hollywood Telegram, Part I

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You wouldn’t think, at first glance, that Albert Brooks and Cary Grant were soul mates.  Cary Grant was the epitome of urbanity and screwball aplomb, and has been stated by no less than David Thomson to be the best film actor of the 20th Century.  Brooks is a poodle-haired multi-talent with the demeanor of an anxious suburbanite and the eyebrows of an off-duty drag queen.  He’s not really in my time-period of expertise, but his tweet this week got me thinking about Twentieth Century tweets:  Telegrams.  And made me realize that both Grant and Brooks are masters at epigrammatic blasts of comic retort.

In case you haven’t heard, Brooks tweeted a response to the lack of a 2012 Oscar nomination for his celebrated performance in Drive, referencing the most mocked acceptance speech in the Academy’s history. Brooks tweeted, “You don’t like me.  You really don’t like me.”    Continue reading

I’m the One. . .

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. . .sidling shyly in the doorway, pausing to pretend to admire the decor.  When really I’m just vetting out the room, getting a handle on the dress code, the temperature, taking a measure of the ol’ joie-de-vivre.  In short, this is my first time here.  And I’m not sure what to say, other than that you look fabulous (love the hair)–and most of all that Continue reading