A Micro Review of “Rachel Getting Married”, And Journalists Get Portrayed Badly (Once Again) in “Miracle At St. Anna”
March 23, 2009 § Leave a comment
“Very rarely do you get to compliment a director for achieving his goals, but hats off to Jonathan Demme, who last year told MTV News the following about “Rachel Getting Married”: One of the challenges was not trying to make it too entertaining,” Demme said.
Well done, old man! Mission very accomplished.
A Page of Dialogue From “Miracle at St. Anna”
Hollywood may be past the point of redemption when it comes to portraying journalists accurately on the screen. It could be that the denizens of Tinsel Town have every right to dislike journalists; they may see them as either sychophantic or nasty, perhaps both. Whatever the reason, journalists almost always come off badly — as people, as professionals — and rarely if ever does an actor or director get the details right. An exception was David Fincher and Robert Downey Jr. in “Zodiac.”
For your pleasure, I offer you some dialogue between the hard-boiled Det. Ricci (John Turturro) and cub reporter Tim Boyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Not only is it non-sensical, with painfully out-of-date references, but the Boyle character starts his first day on the job trying to bribe a cop.
To set it up, early in the picture there is a murder, and young Boyle arrives at the crime scene late, after all the other journalists and most of the police have gone away.
Boyle: I got lost.
Ricci: Coming here? You better find another way for a dollar to change pockets.
Boyle: This is my first day on the job as a reporter.
Ricci: Probably your last. Welcome to New York. You can be like Gov. Rockefeller, come and go at the same time.
Boyle: Can you give me some kind of angle on this?
Ricci: All I can give you is an empty feeling, kid. The perp’s over at Bellevue – 8th floor peanut gallery. The victim’s deader than yesterday’s beer. I heard he wasn’t that special even when he was breathing.
Boyle: My next job is going to be stuffing ballot boxes on Staten Island.
Ricci: Remind me to vote. I live there. Most cops do. Go home, kid, and don’t stop for bread.
Boyle: Come on, Detective. How about giving me something I can work here? Can I give you a tip on a hot horse? I’ll play Santa at the next PAL Christmas gig. I’ll pay Hong Kong Sue over on Forty-Deuce who’ll blow your noodle like Satchmo. How about I put a story in your pocket – good cop helps poor kids. You’ll get three months of Saturdays out of it. How about it? I can’t go back to scratchin’ out obits.
Sure you can, kid. Now beat it.
March 13, 2009 § Leave a comment
OK, so the Academy Awards have always been about commerce. No question. They were born out of a desire to give films — the poor cousin to theater and opera — a little sense of dignity, a little boost to the box office.
So little Oscar was meant to add a little prestige, and so he did. Over time, the Oscars, to some degree, became synonymous with quality. That was good PR. Of course, the track record is actually spotty — but it is not as miserable as a lot of people would have you believe. There are very few performances or pictures that absolutely did not deserve to be nominated, or win.
Even if we disagree with who or what actually won the thing, there may be a general sense of agreement that the nominated films or performances were at least noteworthy. That sense of commonality often gets lost in the Oscar debate. The nominations are generally fair (outside of the song and documentary feature categories, which is another column). With nominations limited to only five in each category (it wasn’t always so — the world has become quite anal in the past 50 years), there are bound to be disagreements who was left out, but often there is agreement that the nominees were worthy.
And that meant getting nominated for an Oscar indicated you were good at your craft. And so, in turn, if you were nominated — or won — you were subsequently offered the best scripts. This was true whether you were an actor, a director, or cinematographer. You got the prestige scripts.
Now, however, you get the comic book franchise.
Fifty years ago if you were Jack Lemmon, an Oscar lead to “The Apartment” or “Some Like It Hot” or “”The Days of Wine and Roses.” If you were Sidney Poitier an Oscar paved the way for an unbroken string of critical and audience favorites. Look at your history: Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Marlon Brando — or a director like Jonathan Demme or …well, name a person. An Oscar can boost a career for five full years.
I’m not sure a role in a tentpole movie already stuffed with stars is the right way to go.
Just a few years ago, Thomas Haden Church co-starred in “Sideways” and revived his career with an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
He parlayed that success into a role in “Spider-Man 3”, in which, as memory recalls, he played a pile of sand.