Category Archive 'Hollywood'
09 Nov 2017

Best Line of the Day

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Guardian story.

20 Oct 2017

Mark Steyn on “Good Will Hunting”

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As Harvey Weinstein’s career circles the drain, Mark Steyn amuses us with a celebratory trashing of Weinstein’s cinematic masterpiece: “Good Will Hunting” (1997).

[I]n Good Will Hunting, the eponymous Will, a genius, demonstrates said genius by memorizing a book simply by turning the pages and regurgitating a lot of information at extremely fast speed. This is a very Hollywood idea of genius: there isn’t a studio exec in town who wouldn’t love a kid in the outer office who could read an entire novel over lunch and then pitch it in eight seconds. …

The writers of Good Will Hunting are, in fact, actors — Matt Damon, who back in 1998 was best known for The Rainmaker, and Ben Affleck, who’d turned in a very dreary performance in the boy-meets-lesbian romance Chasing Amy. That said, they had their own peculiar genius: The script is said to have started out as an action thriller about a race against time to avert mass destruction. Then, at Rob Reiner’s suggestion, the boys converted it into an all-talk-and-no-action touchy-feely cockle-warmer about male bonding. The final version trembles on the brink of a dysfunction-of- the-week TV movie but never quite dives in, thanks mainly to Gus Van Sant’s direction and two oral-sex jokes.

Will, played by Matt, is now a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, loitering with his mop and pail by the blackboard and anonymously solving the most complicated mathematical theorems, like:

    Σ = (y-¿) x zzz*/7 (@§ç) [$$$$]
    a ¶

    (I quote from memory)

Actually, that one isn’t too difficult, as it represents the precise formula for late Nineties Weinstein Oscar bait, where zzz = upscale Brit source material, ¿ = Gwyneth Paltrow’s breasts and § =the differential between a film directed by Quentin Tarantino and a film with a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. The line represents the line that sensitive artistic executives know not to cross, and the a=actress and ¶=Harvey’s head peeking out from the bathroom door.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Good Will Hunting’s trump card is Mr Damon, who struts through the film with the cockiness of a good-looking serial killer. He’s not very plausible as a genius, but then he’s not very plausible as a janitor either, so it all evens out. What he has is a breezy intensity and the same kind of bantam rooster quality as the young Cagney, albeit gussied up and airbrushed, as was the Nineties’ wont. With the exception of his three minutes singing “Scottie Doesn’t Know” in Eurotrip, this remains his greatest screen performance.

As for Will himself, he’s merely the umpteenth variation on Forrest Gump — this time an asshole savant: for all his facility with physics and history, he’d rather drink beer, beat guys to a bloody pulp and say ‘f**k’ a lot. The film is unusually strong in these scenes. It doesn’t sentimentalize the lads as poets in the raw, held back only by the iniquities of class: Chuckie (Affleck) and Will’s other pals from Southie — South Boston — are shown as amiable yobs, perfectly content within their shrunken horizons. The loathing that the college maintenance staff feel for the professors is also well done, and there’s a sharp scene where Will and a Harvard boy spar over Minnie Driver:

    “You just paid $150,000 for an education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the library.”

    “True, but at the end of it I’ll have a degree and you’ll be serving my kids fries in the drive-thru on the way to our ski vacation.”

(Two decades on, a 150-grand degree is no obstacle to a rewarding career at the drive-thru window.)

The forces of higher education are represented by Stellen Skarsgard as an MIT professor looking for his ticket to the top. It would have been interesting to see the film explore his character’s relationship with Will: both are men who, in opposite ways, are frustrated by the size of their brains. Instead, Skarsgard is there essentially to introduce Will to a shrink pal of his. The shrink is played by Robin Williams. Even worse, it’s Robin Williams in that beard he keeps in the drawer and only brings out for serious roles.

The beard is working overtime here: Williams’ character is a Vietnam vet, child-abuse survivor, recent widower and community college loser, due to the fact that his career stalled while his late wife spent 18 of their 20 years together on her death bed. In Deconstructing Harry, the Woody Allen film released around the same time, Williams had a small role as an actor who goes out of focus – literally: whenever the camera tries to film him, he’s all fuzzy and blurred. On the evidence of Good Will Hunting, it was something of a recurring problem for Williams: his eyes are permanently fuzzy and blurry, as if he’s on the brink of tears. Apparently, Mister Blurry’s participation was Harvey Weinstein’s sole demand before he would agree to make the film. That’s a shame, because he’s at odds with an otherwise strong cast. Self-pity is a difficult quality to sell: There’s a neediness in Williams’ performance here, which is what ties his serious roles to the manic comedy. All performers have that to one degree or another, but the trick of acting is to conceal it.

RTWT

13 Oct 2017

The Weinstein Scandal

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Harvey Weinstein and Emma Watson as they leave a BAFTA dinner in London in 2011.


On the Weinstein affair, and for those who think he is the exception …

“You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.”

— Fred Allen

12 Oct 2017

The Courage of Hollywood Feminists

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Dov Fisher is not impressed by the courage of female Hollywood celebrities suddenly now willing to come forward and testify against Harvey Weinstein, after he has already been exposed and defanged.

[M]y mind is struck — not by Weinstein but by the extraordinary cowardice that permeates and oozes through every pore of the slime that we call Hollywood. The revelation that Weinstein is a pig is no surprise. Just look at his donations to Democrats, to liberals, to feminists up-and-down the left. It is like listening to Bill Clinton preaching about treating women respectfully or Hillary Clinton, after getting a child rapist off the hook and giggling about it, rebounding to preach about how she deserves to run the country because she is a woman.

What hits home the sharpest amid this Harvey Weinstein scandal is the duality between the leftist feminist, on the one hand, publicly attacking Donald Trump — or George Bush (either) or Ronald Reagan or any decent conservative voice or judge or lawmaker — and, on the other hand, standing up to a true pig like Harvey Weinstein, albeit a liberal pig whose grease funds liberals and Democrats, first and foremost among them the Clintons.

There was Ashley Judd, less than a year ago, at a “Women’s March.” It was a “Women’s March” that barred and disenfranchised the whole huge swath of American women who do not share the radicals’ leftist agenda. Speaking to those attending, Ashley Judd ripped into President Donald Trump. She became profoundly obscene, reciting a “poem” that bore fantasized intimations of perversion and incest. Oh how brave she was — “speaking truth to power” — by regaling a leftist crowd, whining men and women and whatever pronouns now are persondated (not “mandated”) in California — with a hateful radicalized leftist attack on the Republican President.

That is not “courageous.” That is not “brave.” There is no downside for a Hollywood figure to attack conservatives, Republicans, Christians, the Catholic Church, or Orthodox Jews before one of their hooting echo audiences. Those audiences lap it up. They love it. They reward such attacks with adulation and iconization. It is the “courage” of late-night talk hosts lambasting the President or the Republicans to their self-selecting echo chambers of leftists, while knowing full well that the conservatives and the Republicans are not in the Stephen Colbert audience or viewing on television when they instead can be watching Fox News or reruns of Last Man Standing or Quick Pitch on MLB or the cooking or other food channel or a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or reading a book or even going to sleep at 11:30 p.m. because, as many conservatives do, those people have to get up in the morning the next day to go to work for a living.

There is no courage in attacking the President or the conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court or Republicans in Congress at Academy Awards night or Emmy night or Tony Awards night or Grammy night. There is no courage in mocking the traditionalists on Saturday Night Live. When a person arises amid an echo chamber of same-minded Eloi in a time machine that is stuck in an Obama era that has passed, and sneeringly feeds the clods who get their news from Comedy Central their liberal mantras, he or she simply is feeding fish to clapping seals. That is not courage. That is pandering.

Instead, courage is when an Ashley Judd is pawed by a Harvey Weinstein who has power over her career — and she decides that, whatever may be the price to be paid, she will stop this pig here and now by blowing the whistle. And that is the kind of courage that a coward like Ashley Judd lacks. Courage is not when Meryl Streep at a Hollywood Awards ceremony mocks President Trump’s perceived approach to women, based on the brash person he was decades earlier, while she extols Roman Polanski as an artist who has suffered far too long, even as she calls Harvey Weinstein “God.” Rather, courage is when the same Meryl Streep wins the confidence of women in her field who can go to her, as women came to me in my less famous role, to tell their horrific reports of sexual assault and violation, knowing that she will leverage her voice in Hollywood to extirpate the pig from the public arena. And the coward Meryl Streep does not have that courage — not unless it is printed out for her in dummy cards for her to read emotively into a camera.

In all these cases — the phony cowards like the Ashley Judds, the Meryl Streeps, the Hillary Clintons whose political races and foundations have been greased by pigs like Harvey Weinstein whose identification with Bill Clinton is all-too-comprehensible — the cowardice is overwhelming. Shivering, sniveling, gutless cowards who actually have been positioned for years and years to take down this pig. Had they done so, they could have spared dozens more women the shame and trauma of subsequent Weinstein assaults and outrages. But they were too cowardly to endanger their stations in Hollywood. Dared not speak out against a mogul, a “God.” Shivered, kept silent, perhaps endured silent nightmares and cold sweats. But nary a word. Because, while safely “speaking truth to power” from safe distances, they never would risk their own tuxedoes and glittering dinner gowns, their jewels and diamonds, and their access to invitations to the next Hollywood gala. Too dangerous. Too risky. Better to tweet a dismembered bloody head depicting the duly, lawfully, and democratically elected President of the United States.

RTWT

03 Aug 2017

“Detroit” (2017)

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Steve Sailor, at Taki Mag, questions the Hollywood narrative.

The key moment in the self-destruction of the once great American city of Detroit over the past half century can be dated precisely to July 23, 1967, when blacks began the Detroit Riot. Before 4,700 paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions finally halted the orgy of criminality, African Americans had looted 2,500 stores and burned down 400 buildings in their own neighborhoods.

The next year, 80,000 whites moved out of Detroit. (In 2017, the total population of Detroit is almost a million lower than fifty years ago.)

Of course, today we are instructed to think of these white refugees from black violence not as victims but as perps. Almost nobody is interested in the stories of the millions of Americans whose lives were literally dislocated by the huge surge in black urban crime during the peak years of American liberalism, 1964–75.

For example, the opening text for the new movie Detroit, which opens nationally on Friday, pins the blame for the black riot of 1967 on the economic devastation caused by the 22,000 whites who had presciently left Detroit the year before, apparently taking all the magic dirt with them, leaving only the tragic dirt.

RTWT

HT: Margot Darby.

02 Jun 2017

Wonder Woman: No Longer American

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Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman,1970s

Maureen Callahan objects to the de-Americanization of Wonder Woman.

The long-awaited “Wonder Woman” has generated more buzz than any movie this year, and rightly so. She’s the most beloved and iconic female superhero ever, yet it’s taken decades — the film’s been in development since 1996 — for a Wonder Woman movie. It’s the first to pair a female director with a big-budget, comic-book film meant to be a franchise. In Gal Gadot, it has a star who served in the Israeli army and brings authority to her fight scenes.

“She is the ultimate symbol of strength,” Gadot said in 2015. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to be in a movie playing someone who influenced as many women as she has.”

What’s curious about this version, coddled and crafted over decades, is the near-total absence of America. Wonder Woman was born during World War II, created by American psychologist William Moulton Marston, and her debut on the cover of DC’s Sensation Comics in 1942 depicted her in red, white and blue, storming into battle. She’d left her home, Paradise Island, to fight the Nazis in “America, the last citadel of democracy and of equal rights for women!”

This new Wonder Woman, however, has almost nothing to do with America. The film is set during World War I, in London. Steve Trevor, the pilot Wonder Woman rescues and falls for, is American in name only — here, he’s working for British intelligence.

Most tellingly, Wonder Woman’s iconic costume has been leached of all color. The bald eagle on her chest, the white stars on her blue bottom, the red-and-white striped boots — all have disappeared. She’s no longer vibrant and strong; she’s sad, a pacifist whose armor resembles mourning attire.

Wonder Woman’s global box-office appeal, it seems, depends on no longer being American. According to a piece in the L.A. Times last year, 70 percent of box office revenue is generated overseas, and those markets now take precedence, no matter how closely your superhero is identified with the United States. In 2010, director Joe Johnson said that his Captain America “would not be a flag waver . . . just a good person.”

RTWT


Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, 2017

14 Jan 2017

Why the Left, Particularly the Hollywood Left, is Losing It Over Trump

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notjaffo on Reddit explains.

Why is Hollywood (in particular) freaking out so badly over Trump?

First, because he’s a Republican who might actually do the things he said he wanted to do. But second, because this is the first cultural victory the right has scored since Reagan stumbled into one in the ’80s.

The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.

Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.

Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.

The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”

Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team.

Red Conservativism is a business, selling a set of political products. They don’t make you feel good, they don’t appeal to your morality or your spiritual sense of self, but sometimes you really NEED one of their core products like security, jobs, or national defense. Their appeals to “freedom” and “family values” ring hollow these days, but when people are flying planes into buildings, you need a strong member of Conservatism, Inc. in the big chair.

And when it came down to the things that really mattered – welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and foreign policy, you knew Red Team couldn’t really do anything Blue Team didn’t approve of, or the Blue faithful would kick them out of office next time.

But Donald Trump didn’t sign that contract. And Donald Trump didn’t win by selling the same old conservative products. Donald Trump started his own religion, and he won a religious victory.

The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.

For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.

We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.

Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.

The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.

But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.

Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.

There is a new faith rising on the right, not an explicit religious faith like old-school Christianity, but a wicked kind of counterculture movement. We laughed at the hippies in 1968, but by 1978 they were teaching in classrooms and sitting behind school administrator desks.

Where will the hippies of 2016 be sitting after eight years of Trump? How many of the shitposting Twitter bad boys will start up alternative media outlets, until one of them becomes the new Saturday Night Live?

Sam Hyde tried it on Adult Swim, but that was just the early prototype, like Mad Magazine was for the left. There will be many others after him, and they won’t be stopped by network filters. They’ll come “out of nowhere” on the web, from the secret places that the inquisitors at Google can’t shut down.

And that’s what Meryl Streep is really scared of. She’s not truly aware of it, just like fluttering housewives couldn’t really understand the counterculture threat in 1968. But they feel that something is changing in their safe little world, and they know they have to fight it, because this threat isn’t just passing pointless budget resolutions and selling pointless platitudes about family values – these guys mean business, and they’re fighting on her turf.

Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.

13 Jan 2017

1978: Paddy Chayefsky Answers Vanessa Redgrave (and Meryl Streep)

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04 Jan 2017

Congress! Listen Up, Hollywood is Talking Here

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Sally Fields and a bunch of Hollywood types you never heard of are warning Congress that they will not tolerate Donald Trump’s “Racism, Sexism, or Xenophobia” and that they expect Congress to block any legislation opposed to the interests of any and all of the fashionable Left’s pet victim groups of privilege.

If Congress fails to oblige, I guess they’ll all sit down and have a great big cry or make another ineffably self-important video.

29 Oct 2016

Thank You, Famous Actors!

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30 Sep 2016

John Ford

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johnford

“I’m not what you would call a happy man, but I have a pleasant enough disposition to get through cocktails.”

– John Ford

22 Sep 2016

Joss Whedon Almost Got Me to Vote For Trump

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Regular readers must be aware by now what I think of Donald Trump. The hell of it is: Joss Whedon’s tv programs and movies are good. They are filled with wit and with a genuine appreciation of the human capacity for heroism. But, politically, Joss Whedon is obviously a totally self-congratulatory conformist airhead.

Whedon has started his own Super PAC, called “Save The Day,” which is intended, just like Spike’s self-sacrifice in the final episode of Buffy to close the hell mouth, save the world from ending, and… elect Hillary Clinton!

Joss Whedon is going to do his personal bit to save the world from a Trumpocalypse by producing a series of videos featuring famous Hollywood actors, all self-importantly preening for the camera while delivering cutesy, but puerile, admonitions to register and vote… against Trump and in favor of everything really stupid people believe to be good.

Yech! One wanted to believe that Tony Stark (Robert Downey) is smart. The sad truth is obviously that he is a total waste, and might just as well go back to the cocaine. One used to believe that Julianne Moore was desirable. The sad reality is that she is a left-wing shrew with a foul mouth.

These people are so incredibly stupid, so incredibly self-entitled, and so incredibly annoying that one could almost be in favor of letting the Great Old Ones rise again and destroy the world just to be rid of them (“The Cabin in the Woods” (2012) allusion), or vote for The Donald just to spite them. Almost.

09 May 2016

Another Lost Orson Welles Masterpiece Resurfaces

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HustonWelles

Josh Karp, in Vanity Fair, recounts the story of another never-finished Orson Welles masterpiece film, The Other Side of the Wind. Imagine a film about a troubled director in which Orson Welles collaborated with both John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich. What could possibly go wrong?

In early 1970, director Orson Welles returned to Hollywood after more than a decade in Europe, and later that year he began work on his innovative comeback movie—The Other Side of the Wind.

The movie was the story of a legendary director named Jake Hannaford, who returns to Hollywood from years of semi-exile in Europe with plans to complete work on his own innovative comeback movie—also entitled The Other Side of the Wind.

Welles said it wasn’t autobiographical.

The story line of The Other Side of the Wind was supposed to take place during a single day. At one point, Welles intended to shoot it in eight weeks. Instead, it took six years, and the film remains unfinished nearly four decades later.

Based on a script Welles revised nightly, the film was financed principally by the Shah of Iran’s brother-in-law and offered possibly one last shot at topping Citizen Kane. The making of The Other Side of the Wind began as a tale of art imitating life, but ultimately morphed into life imitating art, on a set where it sometimes became difficult to tell the difference between the movie and real life.

During production many people asked Welles what his movie was all about. To his star, John Huston, he once replied, “It’s a film about a bastard director…. It’s about us, John. It’s a film about us.”

21 Apr 2016

The Kill: Greatest Lines Before and After

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Hat tip to Vanderleun.

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