The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2008

PS The Hurricane Is A GOP Blessing

No uncomfortable comparisons to the Dems… they can’t be blamed for an act of god.
No Bush. No Ahnuld. No problem.

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Following In The Footsteps Of Giants

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(Yes… I know… but a guy gets to have a little fun on Labor Day, no?)

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The Watchmen Mess Continues…

Michael Cieply’s report on the latest salvos in the Watchmen mess contains only one item of real interest… unless you have no interest in the simple legal reality that “you shoulda known” is no defense of an abuse of contractual rights.
“Fox, moreover, was paid $320,000 by one of Mr. Gordon

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BYOB – Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

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Im-Palin

After almost 200 comments on my hastily written Sarah Palin entry yesterday – I was on a plane, saw her speech on DirecTV just before take-off and posted – I thought I would start fresh with a new entry.
The most fascinating thing about the story, to me, was that the whole thing turned in less than 12 hours.. maybe less. Those on the right want to attribute this to the left-wing media, but the real culprit is John McCain. The only thing left to know about Governor Palin by Wednesday will be anything that the Alaska media was too afraid to report. There is nothing good about this person that is going to be lingering beneath the very light bushel of her public career.
In the comments on the earlier post were the expected accusations of fear driving the smart ass response to Palin. Sorry. Any fears I harbored were relieved by her “Meet Your Surprise Choice” speech. She seemed very bright, attractive… and way out of her depth. Think Ben Lyons.
The talking points for a clearly surprised GOP base were “maverick, pro-green, executive office, female.”
Sadly for the Republicans, the “maverick” tag went out the window before the details even started piling up… the far right part of the party was “overjoyed” by the choice. In other words, she takes McCain farther to the right, not to the center, where he once was, and has given up completely during the election cycle to shore up the GOP “base.” And he really did shore that up. And in the process cut his odds to win from the 57/43 area he was working and improving slowly on (at least before the DNC Convention) to something more like 60/40, reflecting the choice to go with one of the few women who could motivate disgruntled Hillary voters not just to vote Obama, but to campaign for him.
Not only is Palin anti-choice/anti-Roe v Wade, but she is a gun-loving, animal-killing, pro-refuge-drilling, newly minted careerist.
Some brought up my mention of her Down Syndrome newborn as a form of sexism. Uh, bull. I would have brought up the same issue had any male candidate from a small place more than 4000 miles from Washington DC decided that it was more important to be VP than to deal with the very real challenges of supporting the family with a newborn, who also happens to be a special needs kid. There is a reason we have not seen many toddlers, much less infants, in the White House ever.
When Jackie Kennedy had her young children in the White House, things were very different. Men were not expected to participate in the hands-on day-to-day of the family and women were not expected to participate as much more than goodwill ambassadors now and then.
God bless Governor Palin and her likely unexpected pregnancy six months into her new job and her choice, based on her faith, to keep the child. I have no opinion that matters in any way about that. But what does it say about a person that they so arrogantly think that jumping at the chance to be second-in-commander-in-chief of this nation makes sense for their family when having a baby in the house is overwhelming to working parents who carry nowhere near that level of responsibility? Male or female, the issue is the baby that they chose to have, not which parent is giving up most of their responsibility in parenting it.
The other sexism issue that’s been thrown out there is the “beauty queen” stuff, which I had not mentioned. The problem is that with a paper-thin resume of a politician who was an out-of-nowhere winner in the only major job she’s had, in Alaska, “beauty queen” will stand out as much as Mayor of Town Smaller Than Most Major State Universities and… is there anything else?
First person who mentions the PTA gets smacked.
What was most interesting to me about the comments on the last entry were that the detailing was so intense that people – especially those trying to sell the idea that she was a good choice – seemed to be missing the forest for the trees.
The comparisons to Dan Qualye don’t fly, since Bush 1 was the incumbent VP when Potatoe-Man was chosen. Unless you want to parse percentages of poll inaccuracies, Obama is still ahead in most polling, especially state-by-state. McCain is not the front-runner. So the wildcard choice is much more problematic.
My more complex take on the choice, however, is that if Palin turns out to be interesting, it is way too late to be bringing her on board right now. Had McCain decided to go Govs Gone Wild back in May, say, there would have been time to deal with all the public vetting of Palin and for her to start to build a real image. However you want to game her experience vs Obama’s, Obama was not an unknown national figure going into this election. And many people are still working to get comfortable with him after a year of electioneering. We saw that in the late primaries in which Clinton used her familiarity to smack Obama in states that were whiter, older, and poorer than other states which had gone for Obama. Palin has 2 months to take her beating and to build a real constituency. She would have to be one of the all-time greats pols to turn that trick. A real savant. And there is no indication that she is. She might have been an interesting choice, but we will never really get to know her. There just isn’t enough time.
We don’t even have to get into her suggesting that Hillary Clinton was “whining” about how she was treated in the media… or the rumors in Alaska… or what she has actually done in 20 months in Alaska… or whether her first big claim of stopping the “bridge to nowhere” was an outright lie (“Asked if she was in favor of continuing state funding for the project. ‘Yes,’ she responded, noting specifically her desire to renew Congressional support. ‘Yes. I would like to see Alaska

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Box Office & Stuff

So Klady has Babylon AD and Tropic Thunder dead even for Friday. I have to agree with Steve Mason that TT should be the easy winner by Monday. Zzzzzzzz…
Just wondering why we aren’t having rousing fights about the massive accomplishment by Thunder… after all, it was such a critical proof of Dark Knight as a cultural event, right?
My point is, stats like this are meaningless, much like box office share. They are worse than just being obsessive details… they lie. For instance, WB and Par are fighting for top slot in summer market share, but WB will have a summer return on box office, based on domestic box office only, of about triple what Par will have… And international will make the gap even wider.
Speaking of WB, The Bat will pass $500m domestic by Monday.
Woody Allen is looking at his third highest grosser of the last decade, at least.
Babylon AD, which stiffed in spite of being MK’s cut in France, will stiff here too. While busy raging at Fox, you might want to see if you can find out details of what actually happened on the production from more than one side/source… Just hintin’…
In other stuff, I am pleased that Obama realized that McCain made his campaign a fish in a barrel yesterday and will allow nature to take its course without more prodding. No one needs the spots of Vogue Gov vs Paris Hilton to get this joke.
Also, I had the misfortune of opening the Baltimore Sun this morning and seeing that Zell!!! has already got the 50/50 content to ads split in full force here, with lots of wire service coverage about politics and everything but local sports (50/50 in that section too) in spite of being the biggest city this close to DC. The future of out LA Times is bleak.

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Thanks, Crazy Old Guy

Wow. And I thought Lieberman was a bad idea.
Two years in as Gov of Alaska… Parent of a 4-month old special needs child… Had her sister’s ex fired…
This is who America wants to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of our oldest president ever.
Game over.

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BYOB – Travelin'

The floor is yours… for the moment…

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If You're Right, Why Lie?


On May 18, in Pendelton, Ore., Obama said that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny, compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet, we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’
“And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war, and over time, allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall,” Obama continued. “Now, that has to be the kind of approach that we take. You know, Iran, they spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have, to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn’t mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues, but at least we should find out other areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that has caused us so many problems around the world.”

And this morning… the elementary school playground stuff continues…
To: Interested Parties
From: Brian Rogers, Deputy Communications Director
Date: August 27, 2008
Re: Proper Attire For The Temple Of Obama (“The Barackopolis”)
Today, workers at Invesco Field are putting the final touches on the newest wonder of the modern political world — The Temple of Obama (“The Barackopolis”). It is upon this pulpit that Barack Obama will tomorrow night address thousands of screaming, adoring fans.
There may be some confusion among the press about the venue and appropriate dress code for Barack Obama’s big speech. To help out, we wanted to provide the following tips on appropriate attire. The toga may have gone out of style centuries ago, but after Obama’s temple speech tomorrow night, they’re sure to be flying off the racks.

The memo – here in pdf – goes on to suggest methods of dress. It ends with a twist that defines McCain’s campaign as well as any.
At the Temple of Obama, reporters are expected to observe a level of decency and decorum demanded by the import of the moment and the presence of The One. No “Animal House” behavior permitted. Specifically, no “Toga” chants.
Watch Here For Examples Of Inappropriate Conduct

The “here” is this YouTube link… which demans the question be asked… how out of touch and literally old do you have to be to not recall that in Animal House, the Deltas, not Dean (John Mc) Wormer and the uptight idiots at the Omega House we the heroes?
But more importantly, is this the kind of thinking anyone should be allowed to bring into the White House? The Dems are having a big event, so mock it, not on substance, but on style? Try to suck the air out of the closing night by dangling your VP selection in front of the media for 48 hours? Keep making lies up to fill your ads and then become reduced to the fear tactic of showing bombs going off on a loop while repeating electioneering attacks from the defeated candidates?

Of course, John McCain sent his wife to Georgia, so we understand the depth of his diplomacy, right?
Believing Repubican dogma is one thing… being a scallywag and a liar is quite another. John McCain’s behavior makes it clearer than ever that he is not fit to be in this office… unless this kind of stuff is what you think America should be all about. “America: Soccer Hooligan To The Wold! Vote McCain!”

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And Now, Australia Puts Itself On The Turkey Day Barby

Fox Press Release –
BAZ LUHRMANN

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US Career Suicide – Episode #432

The very talented Mathieu Kassovitz has pretty muhc burned his last bridge in Hollywood by attacking Fox for the handling of his Vin Diesel starrer, Babylon A.D..
Complain about Fox as you like, there is no studio that wants a director who publicly attacks the work… or actors, for that matter. Only the very biggest can survive taking this position publicly… and Matty, you ain’t Sir Ridley.
A damned shame.
Of course, Kassovitz could easily be p[ushed to question WB after Gothika opened, spouting passive aggression in spurts… the kind of spurts that guys like me don’t report because the spurter doesn’t seem to know how self-destructive the choice is.
There is plenty of righteous indignation at restaurant tables all over L.A… but taking it public just doesn’t play when you want people to hand you tens of millions of dollars so you can express your art.
(Thanks to Anne Thimpson for digging up and displaying the corpse.)

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Formerly Known As "Nothing Is Private" Responds To Complaints About The Name Change

As an Arab-American woman, I am of course aware that the title of my book is an ethnic slur. Indeed, I selected the title to highlight one of the novel’s major themes: racism. In the tradition of Dick Gregory’s autobiography Nigger, the Jewish magazine Heeb, or the feminist magazine Bitch, the title is rude and shocking, but it is not gratuitous. Besides the fact that the main character must endure taunting about her ethnicity (including being called a towelhead), so much of the novel’s plot is fueled by the characters’ attitudes toward race.
I was not contacted by any organization or group when my novel was released in 2005. I don’t know if this was because no one had heard about my book, or because they didn’t feel it would have as much of an impact as a film. Having lived in a world in which my book has existed without protest for the past three years, however, I feel I have at least some view onto what to expect from the public in terms of a response. The bottom line is, never once have I encountered anyone who didn’t understand the seriousness of the word “towelhead” and all its implications.
This is not to say that I don’t find these concerns legitimate — I absolutely do. We live in a racist society, one in which people continue to use ethnic slurs to delineate those who are different than they are. Realistically speaking, though, these people are neither the audience for my book, nor for the film. They will continue to use whatever language they wish whether or not a movie called “Towelhead” is released. For this reason, I am pleased that Warner Bros. is standing by the title.
Towelhead, like its many cousins — nigger, spic, gook, etc. — is an ugly word. The job of the artist, however, has been, and always will be, to highlight that which is ugly in the hopes of finding something beautiful. This charge, by necessity, will at times put the artist at odds with admirable groups such as CAIR. The solution, it seems to me, is not to force the artist to alter his or her work, but instead to use the occasion of that work as an entry point for meaningful debate and discussion.
ALICIA ERIAN — In addition to Towelhead, Erian wrote a book of short stories called The Brutal
Language of Love. She is currently working on a memoir.
*
As a gay man, I know how it feels to be called hateful names simply because of who I am. Therefore, I felt it was important to retain the title of Alicia Erian’s novel, in which she so effectively dramatizes the pain inflicted by such language, something many people of non-minority descent never have to face. I believe one of the unintended consequences of forbidding such words to be spoken is imbuing those words with more power than they should ever have, and helping create the illusion that the bigotry and racism expressed by such cruel epithets is less prevalent than it actually is, which we all know is sadly not the case.
ALAN BALL — “Towelhead” is written for the screen and directed by Alan Ball, Academy Award-winning writer of “American Beauty, ” and creator of “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood.”
(Edited 9am, Thurs, for mistaken title)

Read the full article »

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BYOB – The Non-Political Movie One (Traitor Opens)

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BYOB – The Political One (Nomination By Proclamation)

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My First Fall Rage

I know the awards season has begun because I find myself being enraged by a parade of people (some of whom I really like), institutions, and general (often intentional) absurdity.
Unlike some, I will never take out these moments of anger on the movies themselves or the people in them or who made them. For someone who loves the work, that would be an abomination.
But man, it gets to be like swimming in a tank of acid-tripping piranha sometimes. There are so many people in charge of the same things. So many layers of people who are

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The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin