Category Archives: Killough Chronicles

Archive of James Killough’s blog

Ashton to Ashes

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | INDIA FILES

by James Killough

It hasn’t been a good year or so for my ideal younger man, Ashton Kutcher.  This breaks my heart because I do wish him all the best, in a concerned, fatherly way.  First came his split with Demi, then his stint on Two and a Half Men, a show he is being credited with killing, although I see that more as a kindly act of euthanasia; I agree with Charlie Sheen: TAAHM kinda sucks.  Now he has managed to outrage some members of the Indian community by appearing in “brown face” in an ad for PopChips, and he has been roasted alive on Twitter, a social media platform he in no small part helped to build.

This poses something of a conundrum for performers in general and the people who create material for them: at what point does satire become offensive and racist?  Are actors, comedians specifically, only allowed to appear as their race or, in the case of repeat-offender Sacha Baron Cohen, as something other than their real sexuality?

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Too Cool for School?

THE WEEK FROM MY VIEW

by James Killough

I had a brief email exchange over the weekend with our contributor Eric Baker in which he brought to my attention that our colleagues in the entertainment biz never leave comments on this blog, but rather send them to us in private emails.  Sometimes I might get a “like” or a quick note when I post a link to a PFC piece on Facebook, but that’s still considered private.  “It’s like being in a high school exclusively made up of cool kids,” I explained in my reply to Baker.

The 17-year-old star of "Life of Pi" is just how I imagined him from the book.

James Tuttle has similar experiences.  For example, in a wee incident last year, he was taken to task by a friend of his, an Oscar-nominated actress, for using the word ‘retarded.’  She protested that he was too intelligent and articulate to need to resort to adjectives that disparaged mentally disabled people; a child of a friend of hers was one such person, etcetera.  Even though I pointed out in a post of my own that the definition and etymology of ‘retarded’ was broad enough to excuse Tuttle’s use of it, the actress’ point was legitimate in light of where we are culturally with the bullying issue.

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Cult of Personality

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | REVIEW

by James Killough

It’s not easy for someone like me—a member of a spiritual group in which the devotees wear all white on ceremonial occasions, perform ablutions before meditation, touch our heads to the floor before a ritual meal and obey the Master of the Path without question—to sit through the first parts of Sound of My Voice, much less be interested in seeing it at all lest it make me squirm right out of my preferred movie theater seat, C22 in the handicapped section of Arclight Hollywood, the most legroom in the galaxy.

The transcendent Brit Marling.

Granted, the secret Sufi handshake of my group isn’t as elaborate as the one in SOMV, but nor is it particularly secret.  A sort of cross between a bro handclasp and a kiss, it is elegant enough to be performed quickly on the street; it doesn’t even look like a secret handshake, more like the Middle-Eastern equivalent of a European air kiss, which is what it is: very Arabian Nights somehow, or how Crusaders in an esoteric brotherhood might have met or left each other in medieval Jerusalem.

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Girls Gone Mild

THE WEEK FROM MY VIEW

by James Killough

I was only briefly a fan of Sex and the City, during its first season, and then only by osmosis.  I had something of a crush on my female writing partner, photographer Amy Peck, and she was trying to get us away from feature films into TV, but I was stubbornly, stupidly resistant.  Yet she was equally stubborn so we compromised and I wrote a spec script each for episodes of SATC and Will and Grace.  That’s about as far as our foray into TV got; Amy went off and had a second child, and I slipped back into the torpor of indie filmmaking.

We're not huge fans of celebs posing naked while pregnant, but Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambosio took it to new levels with this pic on her Facebook page.

The reason we chose SATC and WAG is because they are both shows about gay men  and the women who need them (the female characters in SATC are basically gay men in drag), which was our relationship in a nutshell: Amy and I were Will and Grace, as are many gay man/straight woman relationships.

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Post

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES

by James Killough

After financing fell through on the first iteration of Hatter the film—arbitrary changes to British tax laws threw the entire industry there into chaos for about eighteen months, long enough for many productions to fall apart—I began to develop other projects.  Rather than learn my lesson about how hard it is to finance esoteric, difficult films, I managed to come up with one that was even more obscure, Post.

James Franco Kissing Himself (2011), by Solve Sundsbo

The idea for Post came from two sources.  The first was a two-day discussion I had in 2001 with filmmaker Tarsem Singh (Immortals, Mirror, Mirror) about the nature of romantic love.  Everything in Tarsem’s world is highly visual, perfectly designed down to the most minute detail.  The conversation took place in his loft overlooking Trafalgar Square, and this rarified environment gave me a sense of how the piece might work cinematically, even though it was primarily just a philosophical conversation with no real conclusion.

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Desperately Seeking Relevance

THE WEEK FROM MY VIEW

by James Killough

As an aspiring narcissist, I’m not one for watching sports unless it’s something I’ve practiced myself, which limits me to swimming and boxing.  I am glued to the TV when the Olympics roll around for the former, and will watch the latter on the rare occasions I’m in a sports bar and it happens to be on.  The third sport I’ve participated in from time to time and play reasonably well is a good ol’ film industry smackdown, and none was more amusing to watch than the epistolary dustup between Mel Gibson and writer Joe Eszterhas this week.

It's not just because he works out at our gym, or because he bowed out of Tarantino's "Django Unchained." Gordon-Levitt stars in "Loopers," which from the trailer looks badass.

What happened is the highly overrated, long-standing joke Eszterhas—the screenwriter behind Basic Instinct, Flashdance and, most notoriously, Showgirls—mouthed off in a nine-page tell-all email to Gibson after Eszterhas’ script for The Untitled Maccabee Project was rejected by Warner Brothers.  Of course, he leaked the email to the press, most notably to The Wrap, an industry website that appears to have taken his side, presumably in the hope of getting all of those “exclusives” from Eszterhas, which kept popping up as alerts on my BlackBerry as the whole silly saga unfolded.

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Bully on You — Part Two

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES

by James Killough

Please read Part One first.

In between the time I posted the first part of this series and now, Harvey Weinstein managed to browbeat the Motion Picture Association of America into lowering its rating for Bully from R to PG-13 following a petition signed by over half a million students nationwide.  This means the film can now be shown in schools, the most appropriate and effective venues to screen it in.  In terms of social benefit, this might be Weinstein’s worthiest victory ever.

From Bruce Weber's series "Wrestling Requires Two" (2012)

Gawker.com, one of the more vicious gladiators in the vast free-for-all of opinion websites, was as wantonly unkind about this landmark reversal as it was when it ran a piece a couple of days ago effectively trashing Mike Wallace’s career just after he died.  Gawker insists that Bully isn’t really for teenagers, but I don’t agree; as I said in part one of this series, it’s a feature-length public service announcement.  Teenagers should be its primary audience.

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Trick or Tweet

THE WEEK FROM MY VIEW

by James Killough

My good friend Shawn Riegsecker, whose unique brand of seductive enthusiasm should be patented, set a goal for me three months ago: I should have one quarter of the amount of comedian Rob Delaney’s followers on Twitter by the end of the year.  After he fixed that target and I set up my Twitter account, he actually looked up how many followers Delaney has: three hundred thousand, which makes seventy-five thousand for me by 2013.  “Hah!” Shawn said.  “You’re fucked!”

Real men use BlackBerry.

I am currently at seventy-five followers, three zeros short.  It will probably drop to seventy-four by the end of today once Twitter’s algorithmic bots sweep through and find out that @CoastalOptometry isn’t so enthralled by surreal, esoteric quips about atheism that it has followed me, but is in fact a spammer. This means I have to increase my base by over one hundred thousand percent in eight months, if my primary-school math still holds.

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Bully on You — Part One

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES

by James Killough

This isn’t a review of Lee Hirsch’s hit documentary Bully.  You can’t really make the standard reviewer’s judgment calls on a piece that isn’t so much a film as it is a well-shot, well-edited extended public service announcement, which, in a situation that is so ironic it’s meta, is being distributed and personally promoted with great enthusiasm by the most notorious bully in our industry, Harvey Weinstein.

The extremely charismatic teen lesbian Kelby in "Bully."

Bullying is an extremely complex issue, to which the filmmakers attempt to lend a balanced viewpoint by showing the frustration and helplessness of school administrators and local officials in the various small towns the filmmakers visit in the American heartland.  That bullying is an egregious national malady that must be stamped out is not in question.  The broader issue is how you address a pattern of behavior that is so firmly ingrained in the broader traditional American culture that its perpetrators and victims are only now beginning to grasp how wrong it is.

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It’s Raiding Men

THE WEEK FROM MY VIEW | REVIEW

by James Killough

When a movie you’ve never heard of—starring actors you’ve never heard of, either, whose names suggest they might be speaking a language many time zones removed from English—is playing on four screens at the Arclight Hollywood, the best movie theater in the world, damn it, then it gets my attention.

Uwais isn't as handsome as Bruce Lee, but he's still kick-ass.

When this same film, The Raid: Redemption, has an eight-point-five rating on the IMDb and a whopping ninety-four percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, then it is time to book my favorite seat, C 22, in the middle of the handicapped section without reading another word about it, not even a synopsis.

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