Monday, December 31, 2007

Last night, i decided to watch a few movies to get me in the New Year's Eve mood. So i watched "Brewster McCloud", "Charade" and "Help!" Tonight, TCM is having an Astaire-Rogers marathon. One movie that i remember on New Year's Eve for many years was "The Great Ziegfeld"; usually, Luise Rainer as Anna Held was before midnight, and Myrna Loy as Billie Burke was after midnight.

TCM showed "The Big Sleep" followed by "Bringing Up Baby"; interesting to see Bacall being molded into the Hawks woman previously embodied by Frances Farmer ("Come and Get It"), Lombard ("Twentieth Century"), Hepburn ("Bringing Up Baby"), Jean Arthur ("Only Angels Have Wings"), Rosalind Russell ("His Girl Friday"). There's an article in the latest Vanity Fair about Angie Dickinson, one of the last of the great Hawks heroines ("Rio Bravo"). After "Rio Bravo", Hawks had wanted to sign Dickinson to a contract, the way he had signed Lauren Bacall, but Dickinson never had any interest in contracts: she preferred her independence. And maybe she was right, because the conditions in Hollywood were changing.

"The Chase" remains a very strange movie, though i think that Angie Dickinson is quite good in the movie. No matter what else, it's certainly a personal movie for Marlon Brando: it's one of the ones where he was working with people he knew (like his sister Jocelyn) and whatever mixed-up political posturing is in that movie, it certainly seems to have been close to Brando's own feelings at the time.

I think a lot of times, people tend to think that a mess which isn't a success was done for "financial" reasons... but that's not usually the case. Francis Ford Coppola has been going around trying to work up interest in "Youth Without Youth" and he's gone on record as saying that he did "The Godfather" for commercial reasons, and it's not a "personal" film for him. And i think he should be taken at his word. He did "The Godfather" for the money, it's not a work he feels represents his "art".

Nowadays, it takes so long for any movie to get made, it would be crazy to spend a lot of time on something that really wasn't of interest. I think it was Melissa Anderson from Time Out who noted that it's been five years since Paul Thomas Anderson, Todd Haynes and David Fincher made movies, and this year they came back with "There Will Be Blood", "I'm Not There" and "Zodiac". But that's a long time between projects.

(I still haven't seen "Zodiac", it's in my Netflix queue, but i'm looking forward to it.)

Actually, that reminds me, i wonder what P.T. Anderson thought about the Theresa Duncan-Jeremy Blake double suicides, since Anderson worked with Jeremy Blake on "Punch Drunk Love". When the situation was unravelling, i remember that William E. Jones was e.mailing me from L.A., about how everyone in the art world there was talking about it, but there was a real silence about the story here in New York City.

(There's an article about Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake in Vanity Fair, as well.)

Of course, P.T. Anderson had his own story this year: he and Maya Rudolph were infested with bedbugs and sued the person they were subleasing from. (Though i didn't understand why they simply didn't buy their own loft, since she's getting a regular salary from Saturday Night Live.) I didn't realize that Ciaran Hinds is also in "There Will Be Blood"....

And Ciaran Hinds is also in "The Seafarer" on Broadway now. On "On Stage", Roma Torre made the interesting observation that, in spite of all the obstacles, this year turned out to be a big year for drama on Broadway: there were more productions of plays than of musicals, and the plays (both revivals and new plays) were generally of a very high order, with new works by Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, Tracy Letts and Conor McPherson.

After all the dust has cleared, it's interesting that so much "serious" work is being done, both in theater and in film.

Though one thing is driving me crazy: i wish all the critics who listed "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (including the LA Film Critics) hadn't done that. (A.O. Scott did that in his Ten Best on "Ebert & Roeper".) The movie hasn't (officially) opened yet! If "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" is eligible for 2007, then so is Jia Zhangke's "Still Life" (which opens January 8) and so is the Turkish movie "Times and Winds" and "Opera Jawa" and "The Bet Collector" and.... just all those movies opening in the first two weeks of January (and there are a lot).

(The reason i wonder what P.T. Anderson thought of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake is that the whole story seems just perfect for him, but it may be too close, since he was a friend of theirs. But - i hate to say this - it would be a perfect part for Gwyneth Paltrow.)


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