In the view of some, that mythical Ridgefield, Connecticut-based critic named Dave Manning -- a blurb ghost who existed only in the minds of Columbia marketing execs who created him out of wishful thinking and used his raves to ballyhoo certain Columbia releases in newspaper ads -- never really went away.
After the Columbia scam was exposed a couple of years back, or so the theory goes, the tenacious Manning looked around for a suitable body host and decided to inhabit a certain quick-witted, flesh-and-blood, Manhattan-based columnist named Roger Friedman (whose daily gossip column appears on Foxnews. com), who soon after became, in many people's opinion, a consistent and reliable cheerleader for movies put out by Miramax Films.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or business as usual in the muddy trenches of Hollywood journalism and column-writing?
Friedman has been generally viewed by colleagues as partial in his reactions to Miramax releases over the last couple of years. This has been evidenced partly by consistently glowing reactions he's expressed about IN THE BEDROOM, FRIDA, CHICAGO and most recently GANGS OF NEW YORK, but also by his having produced a Miramax-funded documentary about aging Motown singers called ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE.
The difference now is that in the wake of Friedman's GANGS rave, which appeared last week in his column, Miramax, perhaps sensing a press backlash, is distancing itself from Friedman by covertly referring to him as some kind of renegade wildcatter over whom they have no control.
Friedman recently reiterated that point himself ("I am not lobbying for Miramax!") in what
amounted to a combination attack-piece and interview written by Oscar-handicapper Tom O'Neill. Friedman also defended himself yesterday (i.e., Tuesday) in his column.
O'Neill, wrote Friedman, "complained that I had reviewed Martin Scorsese's GANGS OF NEW YORK, a Miramax movie, too early. He said I broke an embargo on reviews, and that I raved about the movie because I was a 'shill' for Miramax." But what O'Neill and his other critics are missing, he contended, is that "this is a gossip column. Our job, like Liz Smith's (she was chastised by [O'Neill] for running a review of THE HOURS before it opened) is to get the early dirt on hot movies. I did not see GANGS with other reviewers, and no one mentioned an embargo to me."
Friedman was also upfront about his Miramax-produced documentary (which will be
released next April), but said "this film has nothing to do with what movies I report about
for Fox 411. Miramax made some stinkers this year
-- Jerry Seinfeld's COMEDIAN and Steven Soderbergh's FULL
FRONTAL come to mind -- and I told you about them first. You can't hide
a bad movie and you shouldn't have to ignore a good one. It doesn't matter what studios made them."
Still, it's hard to argue that Miramax hasn't drawn some benefit from Friedman's raves in recent months. (This may even include those raves that next to no one agrees with, such as Friedman's contention, conveyed in an early-bird review of FRIDA that ran before the Toronto Film Festival, that Salma Hayek will be a formidable Best Actress contender.) It also seems obvious (emphasis on the "s" word) that Miramax has favored Friedman in allowing him early access to their films.
Friedman says he managed to see GANGS on his own and not through the good graces of Miramax publicity. Maybe so, but why did his GANGS rave run right after two New York screenings of the film that were held last week? And if he's so adept at seeing films on his own, why doesn't he ever manage to see films distributed by other studios on a far-in-advance basis? How come it's always Miramax, Miramax, Miramax?
A statement from Cynthia Swartz, a New York-based Miramax publicist, sought to establish the company's apartness from Friedman, although she also conveyed that the company believes in showing favoritism to friendly columnists.
"It's common in the industry for studios to give gossip columnists first crack at a movie," she told
O'Neill, "but we did not do that for Roger Friedman. He did not attend the screenings of GANGS OF NEW YORK. Frankly, I don't know how he saw the movie."
Swartz "said she has no professional opinion about the now-common
industry practice of gossip columnists writing movie reviews," according
to O'Neill. Although O'Neill reported that she "acknowledged that there
was a journalistic embargo partially in place last week against GANGS and
Miramax source says Swartz in fact said there was no embargo in effect.
Therefore, the source contends, Swartz's quote about a review embargo not
applying to Friedman, syndicated columnist Liz Smith, NEW YORK POST
columnist Cindy Adams, or to E! Online's Anderson Jones was a moot point,
since Miramax didn't show GANGS to Friedman, and that Adams and Jones
haven't seen it either.
"We didn't ask [Friedman] to write this thing," the source continued.
"Roger Friedman writes what he writes. Why would we want his review to
be the first one out? Why would we do that? It was embarrassing."
I don't have any particular problem with sweetheart arrangements
with distributors. I've run early reactions to films in the past that I've seen in long-lead screenings, which have always run with the assent of both the director or the publicists repping the film, in one form or another. The deal is always if I like
a film 90% or 95%, I'll tell the publicist I'd like to run something and they say fine. If I'm more
like 60% or 70% positive/mixed, I tell them so and back off.
Friedman's rave aside, the rumble out of last week's screenings is that GANGS is a strong, tangy "critics film" that may not necessarily light a bonfire with general audiences. I'm shocked. Who would've guessed such a startling development, given the snarly-Irish-immigrant subject matter and the career-long tendency of director Martin Scorsese to make films that are less than wholly audience-friendly?
A friend who saw it last week told me yesterday that "the vision [behind GANGS] is truly epic
- it's the first real great moment for Scorsese since GOODFELLAS. The sense of full-scale epic filmmaking (with no computer crap until the last shot) may be old-hat but I find it exciting. This has not been a year for ballsy movies, and GANGS is truly [that]. Along with FAR FROM HEAVEN and ADAPTATION, it takes a swing at something [and] there my sympathies lie."
Who's the winner in all this advance-screening mucky-muck? DreamWorks and their
Xmas release, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. The Steven Spielberg-directed caper flick will be
the last big December release to be shown (I haven't been told this, but I'll bet screenings
will probably begin next week for the usual elites). As a DreamWorks insider confided last
week, "We're waiting for the air to clear."
ADDENDUM: Roger Friedman contacted me Wednesday morning to complain that
I didn't contact him directly in writing this piece, and that this means
the article is "all opinion and no fact at all." I didn't call him,
true, but I figured I was being fully fair by quoting from his Tuesday
column, which addressed this situation and I figured would be fairly
definitive since it came directly from him. And I quoted fairly
liberally from it! If Roger feels my piece is missing or overlooking
something important, he's invited to explain what it is and I'll run it
in Friday's column in a prominent place.
The films of Stanley Kubrick have always had a reputation for aging well --
for holding people's interest and even gaining in aesthetic intrigue after repeated viewings.
Now I'm hearing that Kubrick's most
controversial film, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE ('71), is possibly aging better
than any of his other movies, since it appears to be a kind of cult
favorite among young teenage boys.
Or rather, a small, select group of boys I spoke to last weekend. They may be representative of something larger, or not. They're all residents of
Tiburon, California, an affluent bedroom community just north of San Francisco. My sons Jett
and Dylan, aged 14 and 13, who first tipped me about this, are part of this group. But I've
also spoken to six of their friends -- two of Dylan's, four of Jett's -- and their
enjoyment of this 31 year-old film seems genuine.
And on a certain level, ironic. Today's kids, after all, are living in roughly the same socially degenerated era that the film (and the Anthony Burgess novel it's based upon) futuristically imagines, which is somewhere around the turn of the 20th Century, give or take.
The Tiburon boys have all watched older films from time to time, they say, but not avidly.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE appears to be an exception. Somehow a heavily mannered, richly
composed piece of futuristic social criticism made during the height of counter-culture
mania at the dawn of the 1970s is passing the cultural acid test with barely pubescent
fans of Korn, The Misfits, "Celebrity Death Match" and THE MATRIX.
"As soon as this school year began everyone was talking about how cool it is," Jett told
me last weekend, "and how awesome and wild and crazy it is." He and his friends, he says, "wanted to dress up like Clockwork Orange for Halloween...it's kind of like a fad."
A predominantly male fad, it appears. Jett says he's talked with a group of girls who attend
his school who are also fans, but I wasn't able to track any of them down. It seems unlikely
a movie in which every female character but one (i.e., the main character's mother) is
depicted as either a rape victim or lust object would inspire much allegiance among
The boys all say they like the aliveness and trippiness of the characters. They get a charge out
of the intense visual style of the thing, they say, and particularly the spirited anarchy in the early scenes between the rakishly psychopathic Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his three droogs (Pete, Georgy and Dim) as they steal cars, get into gang fights, invade middle-class homes and rape and assault their residents.
It sounds creepy on one level, yes, for impressionable kids to be savoring such brutality.
The film is a "hard" R and was banned from
British screens for several years because it inspired a killing. But most of ORANGE, of course, is a deeply ethical film. Put aside
the anarchic first act and it's mainly about society's response to Alex's crimes -- prison
at first, and then a medical procedure that conditions him to be repelled by violence. The film
questions the value of "good" behavior that's
imposed instead of individually chosen.
Compare this to today's adult-level sci-fi or action flicks, the
vast majority of which don't appear to have been made with the slightest
consideration about moral content, or a lack of.
Besides, teens are always attracted to anti-social material and elders are always misreading
the import of this. I think these Tiburon kids are enjoying not just the anarchy in the story,
but the rich and exacting film language that Kubrick
used in making
Nick Rosenoer, 12, says he's seen A CLOCKWORK ORANGE "five or six times. A lot of my
friends like it because of the violence, but I think that's stupid. I liked it because it's got a really good plot and it's kind of funny in a weird way...it's fun to watch." He says he's "seen a lot of Stanley Kubrick flms before...FULL METAL JACKET, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and...uhm, EYES WIDE SHUT, which I watched maybe once...so I'd heard about Kubrick before but I really like how he directed this one."
Dylan says he likes it "because it's so different from the movies today, with your boring good-guy vs. bad-guy stories. It makes you think and put it all together, instead of throwing the story right at you, [and] every character you see is so full of personality."
John Taylor, 14, says ORANGE "is one of my favorite movies..I would give it a 10. It's very contemporary and down to earth, and it's kind of like Stanley Kubrick wanted to show what he thought the world was coming to and all that....makes you think about what's out there. It tries
to give a message that there's scum in the world and the government is trying to fix it but it's just getting worse."
"A lot of people like how [Alex and his friends] talk...that special language thing," Jett told me last weekend "And the eyelash thing with the lead guy...I liked seeing the criminal stuff in the beginning and then he gets caught and it slows down a bit...until then it's really exciting and cool
Has Jett ever talked to any of his teachers or anyone's parents about the film? "I've never heard a parent's view about this movie," he replied. "It's a tough theme to talk about."
Gordon Jacobs, 14, says he bought the Burgess book after seeing the film, "not for school...well,
Graham had picked it for a class we're both in, so I couldn't... but because I wanted to read it. I started reading the book but then I kinda stopped for a while because the slang is kinda hard to understand."
He watched the Kubrick film initially because "my mom told me about the story a buncha times,
and [because] Jett was watching it. We're all kind of into it. Whenever we're walking around we kinda talk in that slang." And the message of the film, in his view? "No matter how hard you try you can't change a person, and sometimes when you do change him, you change him for the bad."
Jeff Matthews, 15, says he's watched other older films like TAXI DRIVER and the original 1954
GODZILLA, but not, so far, the GODFATHER films. He says he first watched CLOCKWORK ORANGE because his older brother, 18, told him about it. "I think the story is pretty good, and
I liked the way the ending turns out," he says. "They tried to control [Alex] with mind-control devices, but the end he became himself. If it's about anything, it's that you can't control people and they've got to be who they want to be [on their own]."
Andrew Turnauer, 14, says he likes ORANGE because "it's so different than all the other movies I've seen...I don't know the actors' names but they were all pretty good. I would give this a really high 9 or 10. It's a really good movie."
Graham Jones, 14, says he's also reading the Burgess book right now, partly, he admits, "because I have to read a book for this class in school." He's only seen "half " of the Kubrick film so far, but he's sold. "It's got really good acting and a really good plot. Most of the old films have better plots, though. I kind of like the old movies more. I've seen THE BREAKFAST CLUB...that's pretty old."
Jones expressed what is probably the key stylistic attraction of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE for himself and his friends when he said, "It's so good it seems like new."
Note From Leon
While writing the "Orange Heads" piece on Sunday I e-mailed Kubrick's longtime
assistant Leon Vitali. Perhaps best known as the actor who played the priggish, adult-sized
Lord Bullington in BARRY LYNDON, Vitali worked closely with Kubrick on his last three
films -- THE SHINING, FULL METAL JACKET, EYES WIDE SHUT -- over a period of
some 20 years. He got back to me Tuesday morning with the following:
"I can tell you that I constantly [meet] younger people from this age group and older who say they've seen A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and their comments match the ones you included in your note to me. Over the years it's been a constant occurrence and, interestingly, it cuts right through any kind of income group, at least here in England. But I've also heard these reactions from people in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, etc.
"Whatever one's critical angle on CLOCKWORK, its style opens itself up to young people. As you say, many feel it's 'out there' because it's a film that deals with a social issue in a big, colourful, broad manner. Personally I feel that the message it contains is obvious and because of this, kids of 12, 13, 14, etc., are very open to this way of dealing with social issues.
"I generally hate the way Stanley is sometimes referred to as 'visionary' because what he did in this case was to take a well-written book (which at the time of publication was not exactly your typical 'Child Called It' best-selling-babble but had its root in a personal experience that Burgess and his wife went through) and apply a very theatrical style of presentation. That's why it grabs young people's attention. And it's probably why, without realising it, an older generation will generally not want these same young people to see it.
"I think the only difference between 1971, when the film was first released, and 2002 is that a lot of kids of 12, 13, 14, etc., have either seen some of the things in the film for real themselves or they've seen it reported on the news or in documentaries. Sorry if I've 'gone on a bit' as we say here, but I hope it makes some sense to you and is of help.
"Hope you're well. I read your stuff by the way! Best regards, Leon."
I'm too far behind on my schedule to include these titles in the master list of all the DVDs mentioned since this side-column started in late October...but I'll get to it soon.
A few late '60s and early '70s missing on DVD, according to Tim Merrill...
Psych-Out ('68, d: Richard Rush, w/ Nicholson, Stockwell, Dern, Strasberg, Jaglom),
Wild in the Streets ('68, d: Barry Shear, w/ Winters, Pryor, Holbrook, etc)
The Trip ('67, d: Roger Corman, w/ Fonda, Hopper, Dern, Strasberg),
Riot on Sunset Strip ('67, all nobodies...except for The Chocolate Watch Band)
"Anyway, any '60s freak worth a tab knows these classic exploitation flicks -- the thing is, they we re all made by good ole American International, and now MGM Home Video owns the rights to all that groovy AIP stuff. (MGM has actually put out The Wild Angels with Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. Best line: "We just wanna be free....free to ride our machines and not get hassled by the Man!").
"What's great about MGM Home Video is that generally their transfers of even '60s
drug-biker-bikini drive-in fare look good, and recently they've been doing these
great double-feature DVDs of similar titles (all the early '60s Corman-Poe movies
are great -- check out The Masque of the Red Death' to see how spotless, enveloping and vibrant a 40-year old low-budget cheapie AIP horror flick can look).
"As for the '70s: Cisco Pike ('71, d: B.W.L. Norton, w/ Kristofferson, Hackman, Black, Stanton, etc.) A great, great drug-dealer movie -- never released on video, featuring Kris in his best-ever role, also many songs from his masterpiece album 'The Silver-Tongued Devil and I'.
A real lost gem -- I saw it at the Egyptian a few years back and everyone really dug it."
"What about Joseph L. Mankiewicz's '53 version of Julius Caesar (w/ Mason, Brando, Calhern) and Sidney Lumet's Long Day's Journey Into Night ('62, w/ Richardson, Hepburn, Stockwell, Robards)?" -- Kevin Harman
Wells to Herman: I love this Julius Caesar! Brando's "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war" speech is one of his best acting moments, ever. And I love the way Edmond Brien says, "It was Greek to me."
"I'd like to add Wim Wenders' five-hour Until The End Of The World. I'd still love to see this director's cut on the long list." -- Alonso Duralde, The Advocate.
"Coppola's The Outsiders is out, but his other Hinton film, Rumblefish is still missing and I've never heard anything about when it might be released, and it's a much more interesting film as far as I'm concerned." -- Michael Mayo
Chris Smets, a senior writer for the American Film Institute Desk Reference, would like to see the following...
Once Upon a Time in the West ('68, d: Leone, w/ Fonda, Bronson, Robards, Cardinale). "For my money it's Leone's best picture -- better than both The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
and Once Upon a Time in America. Incidentally, it's also one of Martin Scorsese's top ten widescreen films of all time, and the compositions are truly stunning -- far better than the frequent pan-and-scan showings on AMC would have you believe.
Hit Man ('72, d: George Armitage, w/Casey, Grier, Mosley) and Vigilante Force ('76, d: Armitage, w/ Kristofferson, Vincent, Peters, Principal). "Two lean, funny, interesting early efforts from reclusive B-movie director Armitage, who went on to helm the critically lauded Miami Blues and Grosse Pointe Blank.
White Dog ('82, d: Samuel Fuller, w/ McNichol, Ives, Winfield). "Unceremoniously dumped by a skittish Paramount, Fuller's flawed, fascinating final American film deserves a second look. Co-written by Fuller and Curtis Hanson."
Le Samourai ('67, d: Jean-Pierre Melville, w/Delon) and Le Doulos ('61, d: Melville, w/Belmondo). "Two of the best, most influential crime films of the 1960s. New Yorker owns
the rights to Le Samourai, while I'd love to see a Criterion-produced disc of Le Doulos."
Gun Crazy ('49, d: Joseph H. Lewis, w/ Cummins, Dall) and My Name is Julia
Ross ('45, d: Lewis, w/ Foch, Whitty, Macready). "Even after being featured in a lengthy interview Peter Bogdanovich's 'Who the Devil Made It,' Lewis is still one of the unsung craftsmen of the '40s B-flick. Gun Crazy's minimalist bank hold-up, shown in one
long take from the back of the getaway car, is still a stunner. And Julia Ross is a great little women's picture-cum-thriller that was remade in 1987 as Dead of Winter with
Reign of Terror ('49, d: Anthony Mann, w/ Cummings, Basehart, Moss) and The
Tall Target ('51, d: Mann, w/ Powell, Menjou). "Two bizarre little historical noirs wedged
in between Mann's crime and western periods. The first is a fast and loose retelling of the fall
of Maximillian Robespierre, shot in gorgeously expressionistic style by John Alton and featur-
ing Richard Basehart's villain. The second is a Narrow Margin-style trainbound caper about an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln that's foiled by a rogue cop named -- no
joke -- John Kennedy."
"I'd like to see a remastered DVD of the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers (1932). The current version is a duplicate of the choppy print sold to American TV by MCA. Several lines
of dialogue are literally unintelligible -- a crime when the Marxes are concerned. Plus, prints broadcast on the BBC in the '50s featured a 3-minute sequence missing from their U.S. count-
erparts." -- Kevin Kusinitz, NYC
"The Killers (1964, w/ Lee Marvin, John Cassevetes, the beautiful Angie Dickinson,
and Ronald Reagan. This one tops the original that starred Burt Lancaster. I've
always thought Don Siegel is pretty underrated as a director, and where else will you
find a future President smacking around Angie Dickinson?
"My other movie, coincidentally, also stars Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. It's
John Boorman's Point Blank (1967). Marvin is at his best as the antihero out for payback and revenge on the guy who left him for dead in a cell at Alacatraz. And oh yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing Otto Preming er's Skidoo." -- Chris Brame, Athens, GA.
Wells to Brame: You're shitting me, right? Skiddo?
POSTSCRIPT: "Your readers certainly don't pay attention to the
DVD web sites! A double-DVD of The Killers is on the way with both
versions -- the black-and-white noir directed by Robert Siodmak ('46)
with Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, and the color remake directed by Don
('64) with John Cassevettes and Ronald Reagan. It arrives on January
28." -- Anonymous in Atlanta
Lost in the Pines?
Last Sunday's episode of THE SOPRANOS (the 10th, leaving only three to go) wasn't bad. I got
a kick out of the enjoyable "intervention" scene that ended with Paulie Walnuts and a couple of
others kicking and beating the heroin-addicted Chris Moltisanti, the intended beneficiary of the this supposedly non-judgmental gathering.
But it didn't really change my mind that THE SOPRANOS has, for now, run out of gas and lost
its way. I got on this kick when I read Frazier Moore's piece last week about how the currently-unfolding season isn't delivering. The truth is that if SOPRANOS producer David Chase and his collaborators lived in the same realm as THE SOPRANOS and lived by the same goombah rules of the game, Chase -- who only recently was a kind of Godfather-like figure to so many die-hard fans of the series -- would be in danger of being clipped.
I'm sorry, but the guy is screwing it up. He's not advancing the various plots. He's turning THE SOPRANOS into some kind of meditative theme show about various social and psychological "evergreen" issues -- money and investments and gambling, the importance of blood relationships in business, how should you treat the women in your life?, etc. -- and leaving the all-important narrative threads in a tangled heap on the floor.
Chris Moltisanti's significant other turned by the Feds...and nothing's really happening. Uncle Junior's RICO trial finally gets going...and suddenly the whole thing is in doubt because Junior decides to act loony like Vincent the Chin? A crazy Russian thug nearly killed by Paulie and Chris last year in the snow-covered woods and probably still alive and bent on revenge...and it hasn't been even been mentioned yet. Favio is nursing the hots for Carmella and her apparently starting to feel something for him...and aside from his talking to an older guy in Italy about it, nothing's happening.
The best moment of the season so far? Tony sitting in the Pie-oh-My's stall at night as she lies there, sick. That was the high point...that and that shot of Ralphie's head being dropped into the bowling bag. The oddest, what-the-hell? moment was when Tony belt-whipped Peter Reigert for schtupping his ex-Russian girlfriend. Who cared? Reigert is an okay guy...amiable, agreeable, rancid, corrupted. Why beat him?
"Part of what has distinguished THE SOPRANOS in past seasons was how its multiple story lines were finessed," Moore writes. "Each would dominate or recede from week to week but never get lost in the shuffle, while, collectively, they moved the viewer toward the series' distant, tantalizing resolution. [But] this season, the pacing is off and the stories seem pointed in all directions. THE SOPRANOS, and everyone in it, have fallen into a disjointed funk."
I think when Chase agreed to do a fifth and final year under pressure from HBO executives, he said to himself, "Ahhh...a break." He decided the current fourth year would be his last chance to meander and dawdle and introduce new minor characters and plant the long-term seeds, because he'll really have to deliver next year. I think he said to himself, "Fuck it...let's coast and save our energy, because next year we'll have some heavy-lifting to do."
Please send in your responses and I'll run some on Friday. I sent a letter out last weekend saying
more or less the same thing. Here's some of what came back:
"I couldnt agree more. Until the last two episodes, it was a pretty dismal season. (Especially the first few, featuring Meadow, etc.) But you have to pay attention to the writers. Larry Konner wrote the next to last episode, where Tony flogs Peter Riegert, which was good, and Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess last episode where Ralphie is killed. Both were up there with the great ones, save for the Corrado shit, which, I agree, was pretty dumb. But I'm encouraged by the reentry of the one legged Russian girl, Svetlana, my favorite character. God willing, they'll do something with her and not throw her away. And did you catch what she said to Janice after her mealy-mouthed apology?" -- Peter Biskind
"You have to remember that Chase apparently had an entirely different arc planned for the fourth season until Tony Sirico, the actor who portrays Paulie Walnuts, had to have some kind of operation and was forced to miss the filming of the first six episodes. That threw the whole season into disarray, which resulted in the seemingly static non-events of the first half of the season. As things have improved greatly of late, I'm hoping that this is the main reason behind the earlier drop-off in quality." -- Jason Craig
"The biggest problem with the show this season is the seeming lack of energy from all involved. There's no spark, no oomph, and the fact that the show is being followed by a firecracker like CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is making it look tired. Ralph's murder was the first time this season that I felt any of the old crackle that the show had. I think a problem that a lot of people are missing is that the characters that in the past have stirred the shit are all being whacked. While Ralph's death was an awesome sequence, the show has now lost the one remaining guy (maybe excluding Johnny Sack) who generated passion. People either loved him or hated him and that made for good television. And the characters that are filling the void (Bobby, Furio and the ilk) are not nearly as interesting. I'd much rather see some good Soprano/Melfi conversation than the tepid Furio/Carmella flirtation (which really came out of nowhere, didn't it?). And at the very least they could've brought back Hesch!" -- Jeff Katz, New Line Cinema
"I guess I'm one of the few SOPRANOS fans who is not bitching and moaning about this season. I like it so far. I think it is foolishly premature to say that this season's storylines are going nowhere -- how the hell does anyone other than Chase and his staff know that for sure? As far as I can tell, this season is setting up (rather subtly) all the elements that will lead to the series' conclusion next year. Just be patient - and loyal. For chrissakes, hasn't this series earned at least that much? Must fans and critics always be so damn fickle and impatient? -- Stax, IGN FilmForce
"You and Mr..Moore are looking at the series through myopic journalist eyes. Mr. Chase looks at the entire series on a big board from across the room and I don't believe for a minute he'll leave any lose strings Chase and co are meticulous, curious writers; allow them to surprise us, and let them do their jobs without being second-guessed in the middle of the process.
"The way the series is constructed is that the arcs are long and wide. This is not the Crosby Show but slow story telling, much like real life and not compacted into 22 minutes. Personally, I enjoy this. As for Chase's fate, what if we isolate him on an elevator with 20 TV critics? Just send him directly to hell." -- Mary Ann Cherry
"You don't need to be Dr. Melfi to see a psychological explanation for the disintegration of THE SOPRANOS this season. From the beginning, David Chase has been writing about his own life and preoccupations, transposed to the dramatic world of the Mafia. Most notably, Chase has said in interviews that the poisonous Livia was a version of his own mother. I think the true excitement of the show came from Chase's unflinching, hilarious, and poignant exploration of the way Tony's relationship with Livia reflected on every other part of his life -- his marriage, his work, his affairs, and his psychoanalysis. That relationship was at the heart of the glorious first two seasons, and even in the third season when Chase was able to play with the effects of Livia's death (most notably in Tony's twisted affair with Gloria). But now that Livia is well and truly gone (like actress Nancy Marchand, alas), and I suspect the fun of the show is gone for Chase. He probably feels a lot like Tony -- beleaguered, overworked, ambivalent, and surrounded by people who are obsessed with money. This is probably only going to get worse until the series sputters to an end. When inspiration dries up, you can't get it back." -- Jack Lechner, c/o Radical Media
The legacy of Frank Sinatra, one of the coolest and jazziest actors who
ever walked the earth until he stopped caring about making good movies
sometime in the early '70s *, was honored Monday evening on the
University of Southern California campus. The occasion was a dedication
of the Frank Sinatra Hall and Exhibit, which is located in the foyer
entrance to USC's Norris Theatre.
I attended out of a lingering affection, which for me is based not just
upon Sinatra's rock-solid performances (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE , FROM
HERE TO ETERNITY, THE JOKER IS WILD, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM) along
with a certain admiration for that blunt aura of the street he always
carried around, but because of a special moment in '83 when I saw him do
his act at a concert hall in Long Beach. I'd never really gotten Sinatra
as a performer until then.
You've heard this before from other admirers, probably, but he acted out
his songs in such an open, vulnerable way, it was impossible after that
to think of him in any kind of tough, ornery, belligerent terms. He
showed me that night what a softie he was, and what a huge kettle of soul
he had tucked away inside.
I used to know Sterling Hayden, who lived in my home town of Wilton,
Connecticut. I remember asking him once about his experience with Sinatra
during the making of a black-and-white thriller called SUDDENLY ('54).
Sinatra's career-saving performance as Pvt. Maggio in FROM HERE TO ETERN
ITY ('53) "hadn't been seen or had its effect when we were shooting,"
Hayden recalled, "so he was kinda down at the time. But he still had the
I had a chance to talk to Tina Sinatra about the remake of THE MANCHURIAN
CANDIDATE, with Denzel Washignton in Sinatra's old Cpt. Ben Marco part,
that Paramount and Scott Rudin will produce with her next year. She said
the current aim is to find the right actor to play Laurence Harvey's
Raymond Shaw character. She added that Janet Leigh's old "Eugenie Rose"
part will be beefed up, along the lines of her character as written by
original author Richard Condon.
Ms. Sinatra, who described herself in a speech that night as "pushy and a
pain in the ass," said she's been trying to get a MANCHURIAN remake off the
ground for a good seven or eight years, but none of the scripts were good
enough. Daniel Pyne's script (which he finished about six months ago,
she said) is what changed everything. Filming will start in the fall,
she said, in and around New York City and Washington, D.C.
The average age of the guests at the USC event was about 69, although the
tribute video that was shown was full of young USC students, all of them
huge Sinatra fans. The valet parking service was slow as molasses in
Minnesota, but the food and entertainment were first-rate. Kristin
Borella of Bumble Ward & Associates (who's about to move over to a staff
publicist job at MGM) saw to my comfort all the way.
* his last first-rate film was THE DETECTIVE ('68).
Greg Labate was first to identify Friday's cast. They appeared
together in John Boorman's cataclysmic EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC.
Boorman wrote and directed, with Richard Burton as the priest and Linda
Blair reprising her role as Regan.
Today's cast: Joanna Moore, Howard McNear, Arthur O'Connell, Anne Helm,
Smon Oakland, Jack Kruschen, and a tamed, pruned-down model of a certain
hubba-bubba movie star in the lead role, who was playing a kind of
hillbilly. Pic they appeared in was based on Richard C. Powell's novel,
"Pioneer, Go Home."
What's That Line?
PREMIERE film critic Glenn Kenny was first identify Friday's
dialogue. It's from David Mamet's GLENGARRY GLEN
ROSS, and specifically
from the Broadway production opened in 1984. The role of Shelly Levene
("Guy #2") was played by Robert Prosky, the role of office manager John
Will iamson ("Guy #1")
by the late, great J.T. Walsh.
A delivery person (DP1) is talking to a colleague (a.k.a., DP2) she's
giving a lift to. And she says:
DP1: Did you really steal a crippled kid's bicycle to make your
deliveries, or is that just some bullshit story?
DP2: I didn't steal it, and he wasn't crippled.
DP1: Otherwise it's completely true.
And that makes DP2 laugh, really laugh, for the first time.
DP2: Yeah, completely.
She looks over at him with a grin.
DP1: What brings you out to the sticks?
DP2: Had a package to deliver.
DP1: You? Personally?
DP2: [Explains reason he never delivered it before.]
DP1: Must be a story there.
DP2 Yeah, a long one.
DP1: I've got lots of time.
DP2: So do I. (pause) So do I.
Name the film, the year of release, the director, the screenwriter(s),
and the actor who played DP2.