Please read part one first, or this will make zero sense.
We were on a family vacation in Florida when they told me Oliver Stewart had died—“We have some bad news for you, James: Your friend Oliver is very sick… actually, he’s dead”—but I didn’t shed a tear. It didn’t surprise me; I’d done my mourning already in the bathroom of Jules Feiffer’s apartment nine months earlier. Or maybe shock numbed all normal emotion. God knows, I can still cry easily enough about it today.
Had we been in New York, I might have made it to the funeral, but it was too complicated to get me to Rome from Florida on such short notice. As a consequence of not burying him properly, for years I subconsciously believed that Oliver’s death was just another one of his pranks.
It’s that time of year: the Oscar contenders have all run their race, so the dregs are brought out and slapped on screen. In a perverse twist of fate—perverse only because studios will now feel justified to make more crap—those dregs are turning out to be frothy pints of perfectly pulled Guinnesses in terms of what they’re doing at the box office.
Kimball selected the lesser of all evils in cinemas right now, Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House. Despite the fact they went to see it together, he and Killough managed not to discuss it at all up until taping this review:
It’s official: Kimball has become PFC’s very own Tintin, the earnest, passionate young blonde who wishes everyone well, and who wouldn’t sound amiss exclaiming “Gosh, darn it!” whereas Killough is Captain Haddock, the salty old foulmouthed alcoholic curmudgeon.
In the shredder today is Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Killough suspects Kimball’s manager has been telling him to love absolutely everything and not piss anyone in Hollywood off, but we’ll see what happens after they’re done with awards season and the crap starts flowing out of the studios once again.
Kimball finally gets a word or two in edgewise in this review of David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. As usual, Killough knocks around a few movie stars (*cough* Jodie Foster *cough*), and is pleased Daniel Craig seems to be laying off the juice.
Note: There won’t be a roundup this week owing to the holiday season clusterfuck. We’re back on Monday with Eric Baker. Happy New Year.
I’ve seen the future of horror, and its name is Television.
I’m paraphrasing Stephen King, who once said that about author Clive Barker (and was wrong). Consider the recent slate of theatrical horrors: Colin Farrell couldn’t get people to shell out 10 bucks for the tepid Fright Night remake. Daniel Craig scared up even fewer ticket sales for Dream House, and Sarah Jessica Parker, though terrifying to look at, did not draw a crowd for I Don’t Know How She Does It. I mean, why go to the movies for horror when you can see more intense stuff in The Walking Dead and American Horror Story right from your couch?
Elisabeth Harnois, whose connection to this story is tenuous at best. The impossibly adorable “CSI” star is 32, despite looking 16, which makes my attraction to her a lot less creepy. Maybe.
I’m not sure when it became acceptable to show disembowelment, beheadings, and flesh eating on primetime television, which are acts that would earn most theatrical movies an NC-17 rating. Perhaps the immense popularity of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the culprit. Cop shows – the only network shows where weekly killings have long been tolerated and expected – used to depict the vic crumpled in a corner with maybe a red spot for a gunshot wound. Then CSI came along with its slow-mo, 360-degree sequences of bullets exploding inside people’s brains and child autopsies and time-lapse decompositions and – voilá! – cannibalism is now kosherfor TV. I never actually watched CSI until this season, and that’s only because they just cast Elisabeth Harnois, above.* Don’t tell my wife. She thinks I’ve taken a sudden interest in law enforcement and test tubes.
If you awoke with a different face, would you still be you? You’re operating from the same workstation inside your head, but a different mug is staring back from the mirror. Maybe you’re like Yoda (the cool one from Empire Strikes Back, not that nonsense-spewing goblin from the prequels), and you believe our true selves are defined by our relationships, memories, and moral actions rather than by our flesh. The spirit matters, not its temporary container.
But what if it’s your face with your memories and relationships, but you come to realize that you are no longer human? Your new ambition is to replace humanity with exact copies, starting with your family and friends. Then how would you feel?*
If there had been shots of Mary Elizabeth Winstead like this in “The Thing” remake, it would have been a better movie.
Such is the existentialist crisis facing the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), one of cinema’s most nihilistic films. In it, people are humans when they fall asleep and aliens when they awake, thanks to the intervention of a strange space plant resembling a seed pod. The only noticeable change in them is the absence of emotion.
This may come as some surprise for our readers who check in regularly but I don’t have anything new to report from the world of reality television this week, unless it’s about a new show called “James Tuttle’s Stunningly Beautiful Holiday and What to Wear on It.” Yes, I’m writing to you from sunny Mexico, where Scott and I have escaped for a week of fun and relaxation. And, no, I don’t think any network would bankroll a show about me going on vacation, as much as I’d like them to.
Sebastian Rulli: Argentina born but Fame found him in Mexico
Our usual destination has normally been lovely Puerto Vallarta but we decided to try something different and settled on Los Cabos, though I began to regret this decision on the flight down because the plane was full of people that, to put it delicately, weren’t really the kind of people I was hoping to spend my holiday looking at. Americans traveling abroad aren’t generally icons of grace and style with their enormous tee shirts and ill-fitting shorts and this bunch was no different in that regard. Continue reading →
In the video portion that is part two of yesterday’s piece, there was so much to say about Lars von Trier’s Melancholia that didn’t make it into the review, sadly, or it would have been half an hour long. No doubt we could have waxed even more poetic about Kirsten Dunst’s breasts, too, but we seem to have given that enough air time as it is.
What didn’t make the cut is that Melancholia isn’t just a great film, it is the anti-Tree of Life, which in the footage now lying on the editing room floor, James called “pseudo-spiritual cack.” This is the film that should have won the Palme D’Or, not TOL. Robert De Niro, the head of the jury this year, is clearly becoming something of a sentimental old buffoon if he couldn’t see it.
But wait: those Hitler/Nazi statements of von Trier’s at the press conference. Forgot about those. Bad taste trumps great art every time, for a time. We take that back, Mr. De Niro. Carry on.
Oh, and James doesn’t really have jet-black eyebrows and beard, and beady, creepy eyes. We had to increase the contrast on the video to see Chris’ face properly.
This is a part two of yesterday’s musings, so you’d best read that first if you’re going to try to follow my ramblings here.
My fellow contributor Eric Baker, a man I have tremendous respect for even though we have never met in person or even spoken on the phone, left a very sweet comment to yesterday’s post saying something to the effect of being proud of being associated with someone so “erudite.” The reason I have so much respect for Eric is not just that he writes superbly, with honesty and a great deal of un-cheap humor, it’s also because he’s like me, utterly dependable and delivers on time. And people who are, like, real mensches and stuff, are few and far between.
That's right: infrastructure comes from heaven. Says so right there in the Good Book, Mark 6:31-44, when the Lord divided the loaves and the fishes.
Erudite to me means academic, but Eric is probably right in using it in the context of my writing in this blog because it actually means “to show great learning,” which is distinct from academic, or specifically well read.
In honor of the hopeful revolution sweeping this country, let me digress a bit to talk about my own rebellion, which I consider more of a pilgrimage to my Self than a deliberate act of defiance.