by James Killough
I rather like Nicole Kidman. As an actress, I mean. I’ve heard varying reports on what she’s like to work with. I try to discount the Hollywood Personal Assistant Network, a.k.a. Nannywood, which naturally labels her a “bitch.” But being hot gossip around Nannywood is rather like negative confirmation: if you’re not a bitch or “total weirdo/asshole” (for the guys) then they don’t talk about you, anyway.
Indeed, there’s no point being nice to PAs because that won’t make them feel empowered when the network assembles to compare notes; they cannot feel they have the moral high ground over you, cannot one-up each other with who is more of an insider with the gods than whom.
If, on the other hand, you have treated them like mongrels and then been foolish enough to get on the phone with your publicist to scream and complain Mommie Dearest-style about why you “adopted those fucking children in the first place” with your non-gay, non-total-weirdo Scientologist husband “when they’ve done fuck all for my public image,” then that anecdote is definitely gonna bounce around the Hills.
Never mind, Nicole. It’s all in the past. We all know PAs are masochists, and then they become producers or agents.
I have no comment on Kidman’s botox addiction or other self-diddlings because they don’t look so much like cosmetic alterations as they do a deep intradermal wax job, like the sheen on the favorite vintage car of a collector with OCD that he can never stop polishing. She’s odd that way. Plastic surgery either seems to go really well for some women (Nancy Pelosi) or really badly for others (Melanie Griffith), but Kidman lives in this peculiar limbo all of her own. You can’t tell if what she’s done to herself is good or bad, she’s simply well preserved, literally, like a living corpse that’s just been embalmed. There you go: she’s alluringly spooky.
Kidman makes some admirably audacious choices for a major Hollywood star. You cannot fault her work ethic; if she likes the project, believes in the director, she’ll slash a few zeroes off the paycheck, roll her sleeves up and muck in with everyone else. She’s a bit like my Aussie mother that way, whom I suspect wouldn’t pass muster with Nannywood, either.
Among her left-of-field indie choices, Kidman made the Diane Arbus biopic Fur and the filmed stage play Dogville with Lars von Trier. Now she has caused an uproar at Cannes with The Paperboy, the latest film from Lee Daniels, who directed Precious, a film I rather enjoyed—I accurately predicted an Oscar for Mo’Nique on exiting the theater.
The uproar is not just because Kidman gives her co-star in Paperboy Zac Efron a golden shower to cure his jellyfish stings, it’s because the film itself is supposed to be horrendously camp, so much so it received a D+ average rating from critics at a press screening. As Robbie Collin from the conservative British rag The Telegraph put it:
“‘The Paperboy’ is a transcendentally awful romance-stroke-crime drama set in the sweltering Florida boondocks of 1969… As dogs’ dinners go, ‘The Paperboy’ is a Michelin star-worthy, ten-course canine tasting menu.”
Despite the fact that I have no time for The Telegraph and rarely agree with anything they write, I probably would have concurred with Collin; if there is one thing I can’t stand in films, it’s camp and kitsch. I don’t get the appeal because I just can’t connect. However, judging from the one scene I could find online, the film doesn’t look that bad. See for yourselves:
Kidman must have a thing for kitsch and camp, given that she has made two films with that circus ringmaster of filmmakers, Baz Luhrmann: Moulin Rouge and Australia. The former was impossible not to like, the latter an exploding caldera of mess that actually made me reconsider telling people about my Aussie heritage. Now Luhrmann has regrettably adapted The Great Gatsby, and from the trailer it looks like a steaming pile of razzle-dazzle burlesque campy shit, but I could be wrong:
While the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow version of the book was cast so right, this seems all wrong, from Leonardo DiCarpio to Tobery McGuire to… wait, is that Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan playing Meyer Wolfsheim the Jewish gangster? WHAT? Oh, please don’t tell me he does a Bollywood song-and-dance number. I may have to set fire to Warner Brothers for this grotesque transgression against literature.
Carey Mulligan looks great as Daisy Buchanan, though. We loves us some Carey Mulligan screen time, every time. It’s her eyes, I think: they remind me of a couple of hits of premium Afghani opium.
The involuntarily campy Alec Baldwin showed his true colors again at Cannes when he publicly blasted Harvey Weinstein by calling him either a douchebag or an asshole. Nobody is quite sure which of the two it is, but few would disagree that Harvey can be both.
The spat erupted when Weinstein refused to participate in the documentary that Baldwin is making with director James Toback about trying to raise financing for a film at Cannes, which I would never see simply for the horrendous memory flashbacks it would trigger. Way too close to home.
As I’ve said before, I follow Baldwin on Twitter, and he’s singularly unfunny for a comedian, rather fuddy-duddy. He’s been busted before with these tirades: a rather Kidman-esque rant was caught on tape, in which he called his daughter a “pig” (gasp!); another time, one of his Twitter rants spilled into real life and he was booted off an American Airlines flight when he refused to switch off his phone because he was, well, neck-deep in a tweeting war.
Yes, Baldwin can be a tiresome tubthumping liberal, but I do sympathize with him over Kim Bassinger leaking their daughter’s pig-naming tape. When I was a bratty eleven-year-old and my aforementioned Aussie mother was chasing me around the house wielding a wooden coat hanger like a boomerang, my favorite bit was when I got her to yell, “Come ‘ere, you little son of a bitch!”
I would scream back, “And what does that make you? Huh? Exactly what you are!”
Oh, childhood. So glad thou art behind me.
Another example of unbearable camp is Wes Anderson, although I really enjoyed his stop-motion animated feature The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I caught somewhere over Greenland on a Virgin Atlantic flight and regretted not seeing in the cinema. I thought his first film, Rushmore, which launched the career of non-actor Jason Schwartzmann, was amusing, but disjointed and overly long. I have absolutely hated everything he has done since then. Royal Tannenbaums made me dislike Anjelica Huston, and that’s impossible. And if I didn’t have an unlimited membership pass to a cinema chain in London when I saw the utterly meaningless tripe Darjeeling Express, I would have lost a boot after having thrown it into the screen in rage.
Following a screening at Cannes this past week, Anderson’s latest turd pie, Moonrise Kingdom, starring Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and Edward Norton, opens in major cities this weekend. Poor major cities. This is one of the few times I wish I lived in Iowa, wherever that might be (sounds really, really far away to me), rather than Los Angeles.
I won’t embed the silly trailer for what is clearly an even sillier film. It makes my temples throb when Anderson is referred to as an ‘auteur’ instead of the more deserved ‘crapmeister.’ But that’s Cannes for you, Birthplace and Home of the Auteur, and one of the reasons I’m glad I sat this year out, yet again. That and the fact it rained most of the time.
Instead of a trailer, I leave you with something upbeat and not campy, which was Tilda’s red-carpet outfit and look that she wore to the premiere. Haider Ackermann’s gown was no doubt the best thing surrounding Moonrise.
Rather than a schizo, I’m doing a Fantasy Cellmate of the Week: nineteen-year-old Dylan DiFalco from Naples, Fla., who pulled a Kidman and urinated in the back of a police car after being arrested for tripping up a busboy who was chasing one of Dylan’s friends when he ran out on the bill. So classy, the whole scene.
It seems all fantasy cellmates are in Florida. My last one, Valdet Gjeloshi, who was turned in by his two-year-old son, was from Tampa. If I didn’t dislike that state enough before, now I’m beginning to think we should just seal it off and turn it into a penal colony, like Australia was for my dear ancestors.
From other pictures, I gather that Dylan is a high-school football player. Now, why would a classy guy like me want to share a cell with a Neanderthal meathead? Because nothing turns me on more than sodomizing big blond bullies, for some reason. Just one of those Killough quirks, I guess.