Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The BlueInk review of HOLLYWOOD POETRY: 2001-2013.

A middling review from BlueInk, but at least it's from an outlet with no prior knowledge and/or preconceptions of me:
Hollywood Poetry: 2001-2013
Terry McCarty
Xlibris, 57 pages, $15.99, (paperback) $15.99, 9781479793822
(Reviewed: June 2014)
Terry McCarty’s Hollywood Poetry: 2001-2013 presents an interesting and original premise for a
collection of poems, as the work is “based on or inspired by [the author’s] experiences in the film
industry” as an extra and occasional stand-in for Hollywood stars.
McCarty’s poems are neither melodramatic in tone nor clichéd in description, evading two
common poetry pitfalls. However, these poems are also strikingly devoid of imagery, relying
almost exclusively on telling and summary details. For instance, in the opening poem “Clint
Eastwood in Italy,” the lines “I’m one day closer/ to my ultimate goal—stardom” appear twice.
While direct and explicit, the lines don’t engage the senses or paint a picture in the reader’s
mind. This pattern continues with similar statements, such as “I threw a lifetime of caution,
practicality/ and restraint to the wind./ I decided to become an actor—immediately” and “It was
one of those rare good days/ when I wasn’t worrying/ about who I should be/ and where my life
ought to be.” Such lines lack the prosody and imagination of more crafted work and read more
like jottings in a journal.
When more showing details are incorporated into these poems, the reader becomes instantly
more engaged. A strong example is: “AGNES MOOREHEAD IS GOD/ read the spray-paintedin-
black graffiti/ on a brick wall located at the back/ of a parking lot on Vine Street.” There are
also some formally innovative poems that fire the reader’s imagination, such as “Visiting Day,”
which makes good use of the second person, the “Botox Haiku,” and “Icarus’ Itinerary 2004
Version,” a retelling of the myth using the imperative form and drawing from the contemporary
zeitgeist.
Overall, this is promising material. The journalistic style of these poems allows for moments of
humor and insight. If the author can incorporate sensory details as well as a stronger
metaphorical dimension to balance the literal and documentary nature of these poems, his work
should have much appeal.
Also available as an ebook.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The dumping of SNOWPIERCER to limited theatrical/VOD release gets spun as a positive.

Longtime Hollywood employee/columnist Anne Thompson (with the aid of Tom  Brueggemann prints Harvey Weinstein's rationale for the release of Bong Joon-Ho's SNOWPIERCER (probably the best movie you haven't seen or made time to see this summer) as Gospel:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/exclusive-harvey-weinstein-explains-how-snowpiercer-became-a-gamechanger-we-crunch-theater-vs-vod-numbers-20140721

SNOWPIERCER isn't quirky/cute like Wes Anderson's GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, but it had enough commercial potential (even in its current Harvey-disdained version)--plus the currently-hot Chris Evans playing the lead--to warrant a maximum1000-screen theatrical release a la Fox Searchlight.

Instead, SNOWPIERCER director Bong Joon-Ho was punished by The Weinstein Company for not delivering a shorter cut of the film.  Thus, a limited theatrical release followed two weeks later by a "leaked" Video On Demand release from the TWC-Radius partnership.

Contrast this with something that occurred a year ago: Wong Kar-Wai's martial-arts epic THE GRANDMASTER was trimmed down from its original version and received a fairly wide TWC theatrical release without being dumped or going directly to VOD.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome (again) to Hollywood.

[UPDATE: The above blog entry was inspired by reading THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD on Facebook.  I made the following comment there: I don't think this should be spun as a positive. Essentially, Harvey dumped a movie to show up its director who didn't want it cut.

Anne Thompson's reply:
 I'd put it another way--obviously Harvey is putting his best spin on things-- but he took the chance of sacrificing potential theatrical upside and market share bragging rights--in order to experiment on this commercial VOD model. And he lacked confidence in the theatrical potential based on real market factors. He may have underestimated the theatrical potential of the movie, but the differential isn't that great, given the marketing spend for theatrical.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A few James Garner films/TV movies worth seeking out.

Separating this list into various genres:

Westerns: HOUR OF THE GUN, DUEL AT DIABLO, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER, SKIN GAME

Dramas: 36 HOURS, PROMISE, HEARTSOUNDS, THE LONG SUMMER OF GEORGE ADAMS,  THE GLITTER DOME, THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY

Comedies: THE THRILL OF IT ALL,  MURPHY'S ROMANCE, VICTOR/VICTORIA

Action/Adventure: GRAND PRIX, A MAN COULD GET KILLED, THE GREAT ESCAPE

Mysteries: MARLOWE, THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS, TWILIGHT (1998, directed by Robert Benton)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

David Orr, NEW YORK TIMES literary critic, on James Franco, Poet.

Here's Mr. Orr's review of Mr. Franco's book of poems titled DIRECTING HERBERT WHITE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/books/review/james-franco-poet.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

And here's a relevant (at least to me) passage from the review:
"...the annoyance this collection will inspire is rooted in a deeper anxiety: The attention commanded by James Franco’s poetry has everything to do with “James Franco” and almost nothing to do with poetry. And that cultural wealth is not transferable. Attention withheld from Franco’s poems will not instantly devolve upon some worthy but obscure poet; it will go to another actor, or singer, or commercial nonfiction writer, or memoirist — or even to James Franco in his novel-writing incarnation. Poetry is the weak sister of its sibling arts, alternately ignored and swaddled like a 19th-century invalid, and that will change only by means of a long, tedious and possibly futile effort at persuasion. Perhaps it’s a blessing to have James Franco on one’s side in that struggle."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kyle Buchanan on the continuing under-representation of women in big Hollywood movies.

From Kyle Buchanan's article for NEW YORK magazine's VULTURE subsite:
. ..More often than not, women are an afterthought in our wannabe blockbusters, an endemic problem that Hollywood still doesn’t know how to handle.

Look, for example, at Sony, which is headed by the very savvy Amy Pascal. Last May,
Pascal gave a revealing interview to Forbes about how poorly Hollywood treats its top actresses. Stars like Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock “probably get paid the same as their male counterparts,” Pascal acknowledged, but “the problem is the averages, because there are not enough parts for women to star in and get paid. So when you look at the total amount women make as compared to men, it's paltry … it’s sort of a wholesale change that needs to happen.” Pascal vowed to lead that change, and promised to hire more female directors, too. “I think it is my responsibility, because I love movies about women,” she said.

How has she done since? Well, just look at Sony’s upcoming slate:
Of the 21 movies that Sony has dated over the next two years, not one has a female director, and only one of them gives an actress top billing. (That would be this weekend's Cameron Diaz comedy Sex Tape; even Annie, out this Christmas, bills Jamie Foxx before the Oscar-nominated young actress who plays the film's title character, Quvenzhané Wallis.) If that’s what it looks like when a female studio head leads a charge for diversity, it says a whole lot about how entrenched Hollywood’s attitudes toward women really are.

The complete article is here: http://www.vulture.com/2014/07/summer-blockbusters-female-problem-planet-apes.html

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Unmemorable music of 2014 (to date).

In no specific order:
1. Chrissie Hynde--STOCKHOLM: One good single ("Dark Sunglasses") and the rest is Adult Contemporary mush, with Hynde inexplicably teaming with Peter Bjorn and John (who had one good single a few years back that received play on GREY'S ANATOMY) instead of male and female peers who would inspire her to raise the artistic game.  If you want quality non-Pretenders Chrissie, buy the album she made with JP and The Fairground Boys titled FIDELITY!
2. Roddy Frame--SEVEN DIALS: Rather drowsy I'm-a-morose-pensive-grown-up music with occasional pop hooks.  Doesn't make me want to further listen to Frame's post-Aztec Camera solo career.
3. The Babys--I'LL HAVE SOME OF THAT: Contains what might be the most tacky-and-sexist (woman clothed, but bending over in a manner that will please the ad agency that does the women-as-stupid-comedic-foils Jack In The Box commercials) CD label you'll see this year.  No John Waite and Jonathan Cain, but two original members remain in this reincarnation concocting mediocre "new" product to sell.  Nothing approaching the band's 70s-era AM-radio catchiness.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Memorable music of 2014 (to date).

In no specific order:
1. Nina Persson (of The Cardigans): ANIMAL HEART
2. Talking Heads: PERFORMANCE (from FM broadcast of live appearance at The Berklee Performing Arts Center in Boston MA August 24, 1979)
3. Wilko Johnson (of Dr. Feelgood) and Roger Daltrey: GOING BACK HOME
4. Tori Amos: UNREPENTANT GERALDINES
5. Natalie Merchant: NATALIE MERCHANT
6. REM: UNPLUGGED 1991, 2001
7. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin: COMMON GROUND: DAVE ALVIN AND PHIL ALVIN
SING THE SONGS OF BIG BILL BROONZY
8. Neil Young: A LETTER HOME (produced by Jack White)
9. Otis Redding: THE KING OF SOUL (boxset, available on Spotify)
10. Rosanne Cash: THE RIVER AND THE THREAD
11. Beck: MORNING PHASE
12. Rod Stewart: LIVE 1976-1998: TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT (boxset)
13. Lone Justice: THIS IS LONE JUSTICE: THE VAUGHT TAPES 1983
14. The Beatles: THE U.S. ALBUMS (reissued boxset)
15. Aimee Mann and Ted Leo: THE BOTH

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A supplement to the Roger Ebert documentary LIFE ITSELF.

Yes, the LIFE ITSELF documentary film of film critic/author Roger Ebert's life and work (getting both theatrical and cable TV On Demand releases) is as good as the reviews say it is.

But, in the apparent need to keep the running time around two hours, some things and/or people are unexplained or under-discussed.  Here's a list.

1. HOWIE MOVSHOVITZ: a critic friend of Ebert's interviewed in LIFE ITSELF.  Movshovitz was a film critic for the now-defunct Colorado newspaper RockyMountain News and has reviewed for Colorado Public Radio.  Here's a sample review of his for the reissue of Max Ophuls' LOLA MONTES: http://www.rialtopictures.com/images_9/lola_colradio.html

2.  JONATHAN ROSENBAUM: former critic for the alternative newspaper Chicago Reader and film historian (DISCOVERING ORSON WELLES).   For a sampling of Rosenbaum's film writing, his website is: http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net

3.  About half of LIFE ITSELF concerns the long-running teaming of Ebert with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel.  For a comprehensive look at their partnership/rivalry, read the e-book ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY: THE ORAL HISTORY OF SISKEL AND EBERT by Josh Schollmeyer.
http://www.amazon.com/Enemies-Love-Story-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B007MFTOGM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1404620770&sr=1-1&keywords=enemies+a+love+story

4.  RICHARD ROEPER: Ebert's post-Siskel TV partner (presumably chosen both for being telegenic and younger) is not mentioned in the film.  Perhaps Roeper may appear in a DVD release extra.

5. RUSS MEYER--the soft-porn provocateur is dealt with in a sort of handle-this-with-a-pair-of-tongs fashion in LIFE ITSELF.  After BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Ebert did more screenwriting for Meyer.  Ebert contributed the original story for 1976's UP!  using the pseudonym  "Reinhold Timme". And the script (under nom de plume R. Hyde) for 1979's BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS.  In 1977, Ebert and Meyer began work on a later-abandoned film starring The Sex Pistols with the title WHO KILLED BAMBI?

6. PAULINE KAEL: the famed NEW YORKER film critic (mostly between 1968-1991) was a friend and champion of Ebert.  And, like Ebert, she would engage in the practice of being friendly with  directors and not recusing from reviewing their films (Kael being known for being pals with Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah).

If you'd like a "Best Of Roger Ebert" compilation book, try this:
http://www.amazon.com/Awake-Dark-Best-Roger-Ebert/dp/0226182010/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1404622295&sr=1-12