Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today, as I heard of Polanski's arrest in Switzerland, I found myself remembering our 1986 chat. And recalling that, after hearing some loose talk at Cannes '86 about his possible return to the United States, I was emboldened to ask just why he would want to risk arrest, or worse, for such a sentimental journey. I had my own theory. Apparently, I was right. You can read the relevant half of a two-part Houston Post interview here.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
From the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari... Der Rosenkavalier (with musical accompaniment by the Houston Symphony)
Monday, September 21, 2009
For me, Ferrante & Teicher symbolize an era in movie-musicianship when a picture's title tune might prove more memorable -- and, through heavy rotation on Easy Listening radio, more enduring -- than the picture itself. Indeed, I wonder how many people even know that "Pieces of Dreams" -- also recorded by such notables as Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis and Shirley Bassey -- actually was a movie theme. For the record: It was an Oscar-nominated song composed by no less than a luminary than Michel Legrand for a long-forgotten 1970 flick starring Robert Forster as a Catholic priest undergoing a crisis of faith, and Lauren Hutton as a beautiful social worker who leads him into temptation. To be fair, I haven't seen the movie since its original theatrical release, so I can't say for certain whether it deserves its obscurity. But, hey, it obviously did a lot more for Ferrante & Teicher than it did for Forster or Hutton, right?
For what it's worth, I posted this comment on Ebert's blog (which, like Thompson's, is required reading for any serious cinéaste):
I strongly suspect that, years from now, when pop-culture historians are writing about the early-21st-century indie film crisis, many will note a direct correlation between the decline in audiences for indie films and the decline of film critics on newspapers in major and secondary markets. Seriously. Yes, I know: Newspapers still run wire-service reviews. But that’s hardly the same thing as having someone on staff who’s an active advocate for indie movies, who’s eager to interview indie filmmakers – and who urges editors to occasionally make a review of an indie film the lead review in a Friday paper. Also: I think readers are more likely to heed the advice of a critic they have come to know, if not always agree with. That is, a critic who is a visible member of the community – someone who’s interviewed on local TV from time to time, who lectures and/or introduces films at museums and other venues, and whose reviews may get debated on radio talk shows.
Of course, there’s another factor to consider: The decline of newspapers, period. Yes, there are many, many websites where people can read astute and/or entertaining reviews of films. But those sites are frequented by people already inclined to see movies. With newspapers, you have what I call The Happenstance Factor: Someone leafing through the paper might stumble across a review of an indie movie – a movie he or she might not otherwise know about – and become sufficiently interested to actually go see the film in a first-run theater. I can’t tell you how many times I had people (even editors and fellow staffers) tell me back when I reviewed films for the now-defunct Houston Post that they never would have heard about (much less gone to see) certain movies if they hadn’t serendipitously come across my review while looking for the comics page or the horoscope column. Unfortunately, that sort of thing rarely happens on the Internet.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
And even then, Swayze wasn't allowed to see the script until a few hours before the audition. He read a few pages, saw that Vida has several long speeches, and immediately realized he didn't have time to properly prepare.
"So I told them, `Look, I can't do these words. So if this is a case where I have to do these words, forget it. But if you let me come in, I'll give you a half-hour monologue on my life as a drag queen, and see if I can turn into Vida while I watch her materialize in the mirror.'
"And I wound up giving them an hour-long monologue. I just took Patrick Swayze's life, and told it as if he'd grown up as a drag queen in Texas. And that was a neat story. " Yes, indeed.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
I don’t pretend to have known the man very well, but, as I say, I always enjoyed talking with him, and always appreciated his seemingly boundless enthusiasm. I cannot believe there isn’t a place somewhere on the other side where such a vital spirit can continue to thrive. More, later.
Friday, September 11, 2009
More to come...