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Breezy (1973) stars Oscar winner William Holden and a very young Kay Lenz in her second film and first starring role. It is a May - December romance story. Bill Holden plays a reasonably prosperous real estate agent who is divorced and is not especially entertained with the women he dates in his age group and social class. Lenz plays a young hippy girl named Edith Alice Breezerman, or Breezy.
Mol film clips (collages below)
Before I watched it all the way through, it had been something of a mystery to me. Why was this film was never released theatrically, I wondered. It was directed by long-time Hollywood insider Paul Shrader, one of the industry's best screenwriters, who wrote three Martin Scorsese masterpieces, including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. It stars Joseph "Shakespeare" Fiennes, backed by Ray Liotta and Gretchen Mol. It was shown in Toronto and Telluride. And when was the last time you saw a straight-to-cable film in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio?
For Bailey, the results were far more depressing than for Deschanel, because nobody ever saw Bailey's work projected on the big screen after the film festivals. That's really a shame. This film was meant to be projected in a 2.35 aspect ratio which simply can't be appreciated anywhere except a big screen. Of course, Bailey didn't know it would go straight-to-cable when he filmed it in that super widescreen ratio.
Hollman in The Secrets of Emily Blair (2016) in
Glasby in Drown (2016 music video) in 720p
Galocha in Don't Blame Karma (2016) in 720p
Cummings (and Nadine Heimann) in Dante's Cove
Monroe in All Souls' Day (2005)
Tomei in Factotum (2005) in 1080hd
The American poet/novelist Charles Bukowski has not made an easy transition to film. I can see why. His life as an alcoholic bum is not a pleasant place for moviegoers to visit. Bukowski, the skid-row Celine of L.A., was the poet of the American down-and-out in the 20th century, and his work can be accused of many flaws, but inauthenticity is not one of them. He wasn't a guy who wrote about outsiders, but rather an actual outsider who happened to have some writing ability. I can't think of one other case in which a writer who chronicled the misery of poverty and drunkenness chose to live his entire life in that misery, therefore reporting everything first-hand. When it comes to alcoholism, living in the filth of humans and rodents, scraping food from trash bins, and daring carnal activities with the unwashed, Bukowski was the man. He never sought a more glamorous life, even after he started to achieve a modicum of fame. He made the commitment. He even kept up the commitment after his death. His tombstone reads, "Don't try." He lived and died on skid row. He was its poet laureate.
He may be not only the most authentic, but also the most politically incorrect writer of America's twentieth century. He picked up women who wanted to be treated violently, and wrote about his encounters. He waxed rhapsodic about his enlarged testicles. He offered kind words about Hitler and Idi Amin. These characteristics give his work an unpleasant aroma that causes many to hold their noses, and bars the door to prevent him from soiling the Great Hall of American Letters, where many people think he should be. He's the Pete Rose of writers: all the qualifications, but banned from the hall on a DQ.
I suppose I should mention that there are others who are not so impressed with Buk's writing. That'd include me. I certainly will never be mistaken for Edmund Wilson in the literary criticism department, but to my ear his writing just sounds like crap. Buk's work sounds to me like an old drunk reading off a list of things that tick him off, with some (but very little) sense for meter or language.
So, who knows? Maybe he does or maybe he doesn't belong in that imaginary hall.
Not that Buk would have wanted in. The only thing he hated more than having to earn enough money to buy booze was the approval of academia and/or society in general. In order to shake up the weltanschauung of straight society, he would deliberately say offensive things he didn't believe. Hell, he would have tried to kick my ass just for having used the word "weltanschauung," even though he spoke German.
That was Buk.
Prior to Factotum, three major films attempted to get a handle on Bukowski. The most famous among them is Barfly, for which Bukowski himself wrote the screenplay for director Barbet Schroeder, and which featured Mickey Rourke as Bukowski's alter ego. The noted Italian director Marco Ferreri also took a shot at Buk with a film called Tales of Ordinary Madness, this time featuring Ben Gazzara in the lead. The third effort was an offbeat film from a Flemish director named Dominique Deruddere. I suppose that Factotum is by far the worst of the four in terms of capturing the flavor of Bukowski's world. Made by a Norwegian director in Minneapolis, it looks sugar-coated, clean, and - well, like a Norwegian film made in Minnesota. The women are passably attractive. The rooming houses are passably clean. Everyone has perfect teeth. The director's concept of squalor is an ash tray full of cigarette butts and a few overturned beer cans. That ain't Buk. The whole point of Buk's work is that he rejects anything you value, and you would be repulsed to enter his world, even for an hour. He was a repulsive-looking acne-scarred man who was always ready to pick a drunken fight. He usually smelled of cheap booze and his own bodily wastes. The women he slept with were often half-crazed at minimum, and you would not be able to get within six feet of them because of the smell. Even if you were drunk enough to bed them, you could never go through with it once you became aware of their personal hygiene habits. Buk took pride in keeping an erection under those conditions.
In his own words, he quit writing for a while to concentrate on ...
... the drinking. And in between, the bumming between cities, the low-level jobs. I saw little meaning in anything and still have a problem with that. I lived a rather suicidal life, a half-assed life and I met some hard and crazy women. Some of this became material for my later writings. I mean, I drank. There was a bit of a death scene in a hospital, charity ward. I was spewing blood out of my mouth and my ass but didn't go. Came out and drank some more.
In other words, his life was gritty. Barfly caught that. Even Tales of Ordinary Madness caught that, although it was not an especially good movie. Factotum did not. It was about people who wipe their asses with toilet paper, then wash their hands afterwards. Matt Dillon is a good-looking man who seems to need only a shave and a bath to head out to "21" and pick up a countess. He's also a healthy-looking man who seems capable of playing full-court for 48 minutes if need be.
That's not Buk.
It seems too obvious to say Matt Dillon is too handsome and vital to play Buk. Hell, Abe Vigoda was too handsome and vital to play Buk.
Now that I've exhausted that point, I'm forced to move on to a greater one. If a Bukowski film is not really nitty-gritty Bukowski, can it still be a good film? Can it still be good Bukowski in some other sense? The answer to both questions is, "Sure, why not?" Factotum is in that boat. It is not especially gritty, and the drunken escapades are more like episodes in a sitcom, or even in a fairy tale, than the desperation of reality, but the film entertains. There isn't much of a story arc, and the film is basically a series of virtually unconnected episodes strung together chronologically, but the episodes can be a very amusing portrayal of a guy who just didn't give a shit. Look at it this way. There are many ways to approach an author's work. Kubrick took the long, complex Nabokov version of Lolita and extracted the most comical elements to make his movie, while Adrian Lyne took the same book and made it into a lament for long-lost true love. Factotum took the same approach to Bukowski that Kubrick took to Nabokov. The auteur (Bent Hamer) extracted all the funniest parts of the material and strung them together to show how Bukowski keeps his sense of humor despite being beaten down repeatedly and despite being aware of a certain level of tragedy underlying his laughter. Although this particular avatar of Bukowski is trampled by society, he has not lost his ability to make fun of it. Throughout his failings, he never considers himself the inferior of the successful, nor even their equal, but always stands smugly above them ...
... at least until he falls drunkenly to the bar floor.
That is Buk, a man who found pleasure in his own pain, and humor in his own sadness. And this film captures that part of him.
Heigl in Prince Valiant (1997)
Heigl in My Father The Hero (1994) in 1080hd
My Father the Hero has a very cute premise. Gerard Depardieu is a divorced, absentee, neglectful dad who decides to make one more stab at a relationship with his daughter by taking her on a dream vacation to the Bahamas. Teen girls being the way they are, the daughter (Katherine Heigl) wants to be more sophisticated than she really is, so she decides to impress the locals by telling them that Depardieu is her lover, a noted French criminal who rescued her from a life of crime and child prostitution. Depardieu, of course, has no idea what his daughter has been telling people, so he can't understand why he is being treated with such scorn by the locals, who think he is a criminal pederast.
The film gives Depardieu a chance to do the one thing he can do capably in English - play the clueless buffoon - and he does it quite well, generating more than a few uncomfortable laughs at Talent Night, when he sings Thank (or "Sank") Heaven for Little Girls, unaware of the extra layers of meaning added by his daughter's fabrications. Eventually, Depardieu's desire to please his daughter gets him involved in the lies as well.
The critics didn't care for it, but it's a pretty cute film, an easy enough watch when you want to turn your brain off, and the young Katherine Heigl, small-chested and slim-hipped, a 15 year old playing the part of a 14 year old, appeared absolutely adorable as the headstrong and resentful daughter, which more than compensated for her rudimentary acting ability.
The only thing really wrong with the film is that it is Disneyfied (produced by Touchstone, distributed by Buena Vista), so it didn't manage to exploit much of the humorous potential of the situation. It is therefore a satisfactory film, but one which failed to reach the potential of a truly excellent comic premise because it watered everything down to get a PG. The puritans in the USA wanted it to be watered down even more. They weren't even satisfied with this milk-and-cookies interpretation of the story, and many complained that Heigl's young body was exploited by the lurid camera work in one scene, which focused on her butt in a swimsuit which didn't cover any of her glutes at all. (This was essential for the comic premise of the scene, in which a shocked Depardieu keeps trying to cover her up.)
Is it a good enough film to make twice? I don't know. I haven't seen the French version, but there was one. It came three years earlier, and also starred Depardieu as the father, with Marie Gillain as the daughter. By all accounts, the American version is virtually the same movie, which leads one to wonder why they didn't just let Depardieu dub the French version.
I think that the French version must be better for two reasons:
1. The French are much more adult and sophisticated at handling dangerously racy material like this.
2. I have to assume you can understand Depardieu when he speaks French.
Whatever the logic behind the remake, it worked, because the modestly budgeted film overcame negative reviews and earned $25 million at the Box Office, thus turning a nice profit for everyone.
Whitcraft and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl
(1988) in 1080hd
Melanie plays a secretary who has the brains, knowledge, and aggressiveness to be a big-time wheeler-dealer in corporate finance, but nobody will give her the chance. She doesn't have the right look (teased hair, cheap jewelry), she doesn't have the right voice (Melanie Griffith), she doesn't talk like she came from either the Wharton School or the Seven Sisters, she grew up on Staten Island, and she got a night school degree.
But she does have the right stuff, if she could only get a chance to use it. She thinks the chance has come when she is assigned to a female boss and can therefore avoid the sexual pursuit that her previous bosses foisted on her. Things go well at first, until she finds out that her boss is simply trying to steal her ideas and take credit for them. She gets her big chance when the boss is hurt skiing, and she decides to steal back her own idea by pretending to be an executive from her own firm, and making the deal work herself.
She then undergoes the change in clothing and style necessary to pull it all off. The fortunate plot twist is that her boss, while convalescing in New England, asked Mel to watch the apartment - an apartment full of the right clothing and perfumes to pull the ruse off. Mel does eventually get the deal done, and she even gets the right guy, so it has some "Pretty Woman" fantasy elements to it, but it stays grounded in reality:
Even though she's pulled off a multi-zillion dollar deal, she only gets offered an entry-level position at the end.
But even this position fills her with elation. She is ecstatic about the tiny office, because she knows she's been given control of her own future.
Tell you what, the author really knew his stuff, although he never wrote anything else memorable. The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional. (Even Sigourney Weaver, as a corporate snake, doesn't seem two-dimensional, but is actually similar to many corporate snakes I really knew.)
Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith are charming. The script is funny and touching, and there is a feel-good, but not unrealistic ending.
This film taps into a real recognizable reality. When I became the head of strategic planning for a big company back in the eighties, I didn't know how I was going to staff my newly formed department. It isn't like people were going to abandon their promising careers and lavish lifestyles in marketing to come work for me in a small new department which had to prove its credibility. Whoever said necessity was the mother of invention wasn't just whistling Dixie. He might have gone further and said that desperation is invention's real mother. I decided that the only really important currency in strategic planning is brainpower. In marketing, you can't just hire brainy geeks because presentation and salesmanship are actually more important than ideas. Even in finance, you can't just hire for brains because they have to interact with bankers and such types who want people to fit into a certain mold. But I didn't have to worry about that. Our currency was ideas, and nothing more. So, in complete desperation, I turned to our corporate psychologist and asked him to tell me the people who simply scored highest on our internal testing. For some reason, our company gave lots of standardized tests like the Miller Analogies and the Raven Advanced Matrices and such. Apparently they had validated a connection between these tests and certain types of job performance. The reason doesn't matter, the point is that we had the scores and I used 'em. Two of the three highest in the company were a secretary and an entry-level programmer in MIS, both women. I suppose if they had been men with such brains, they wouldn't have been available because they never would have been allowed to languish in task-oriented jobs, but they were available, and I swiped 'em away from their bosses, because both were nice people in addition to their impressive IQ's.
They did great. Both women went on to impressive careers.
Which brings me to the one unrealistic thing in the movie. If one of those two women wrote a brilliant analysis of why we should or shouldn't pursue a strategy, I wouldn't have thought for a minute about taking credit for it. I'd go out of my way not to, because in the corporate environment, the ability to find, train and cultivate subordinates is more important than one's own brainpower. Brainpower can only get you to a job as advisor to the king. Getting good work out of others can get you the throne. So in this case, Sigourney wouldn't brag about her brilliant idea. Rather, she'd brag about how she unearthed a brilliant corporate talent that everyone ignored, even though it was right under their noses. That would be much better corporate-level upsucking. Companies have dozens of brilliant analysts, but only one CEO, and developing people is what gets you the big chair. That's a minor flaw, however, and there really are corporate types like Sigourney who don't look at the long-term picture, but merely try to grab credit for everything in the short run, so there was actually nothing unbelievable about her doing that.
Melanie's blue-collar friends and other minor players were also realistic. Good score from Carly Simon.
I was really disappointed by King David.
I know what you're thinking. I should know better. After all, I have writtenm reviews of 3000 movies, and I should have realistic expectations about a movie which stars Richard Gere as Israel's greatest king.
You got it all wrong, ya mug.
I wasn't disappointed in the sense that it was much worse than I expected. Quite the contrary. I was disappointed because it was better than I expected.
You see, I love really bad movies. I have watched Road House five times and loved it every time. Plan 9? A classic! Manos, the Hands of Fate? Genius! Some of my favorite recent movies include Hell Comes to Frogtown and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. What could be more fun than a truly inspired bad movie? When I read about Richard Gere as King David, I was stoked. Before the film arrived, I was already composing articles in my head. "I have to write about the worst casting of all time. Gotta do the research." I was thinking for days about John Wayne as Genghis Khan; Mickey Rourke as Francis of Assisi; Hugh Grant as Lord Byron; Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.
Pipe dreams. All pipe dreams.
Gere doesn't give an outrageously bad performance. He just gives his usual Richard Gere performance, creating a King David who is breathtakingly handsome and as devoid of personality as the next door neighbors on Ozzie and Harriet. Gere even managed some kind of heightened articulation so that, while he didn't sound classical or Shakespearian, neither did he sound like his usual Philly Guy self, which is what I was hoping for. I really thought it was going to be a Tony Curtis kind of thing. ("Yonda lies da cassel of my brudda!").
I was already dreaming up the punch lines:
It's the only production in which King David is referred to as 'Dave'.
No luck. Not a good movie, but not laughably bad. Oh, it's bad, just not bad enough to be consistently funny. It's just your basic garden-variety boring biblical thing. Although it lacks flair, it was directed with competence by Bruce Beresford, who has churned out a whole career full of similarly competent but uninspired movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Bride of the Wind. Of course, King Dave is down there near the bottom of Beresford's credits at IMDb, but with him at the helm the film is obviously not the complete hack-job I was hoping for.
The seemingly interminable story follows King David from his youth until his death at age seven thousand. Well it seemed that long. Dave starts out as a humble shepherd boy who writes some songs and sings them to the sheep. Hey, even Sinatra started small. Besides, sheep rarely heckle, so they're good for working out new material. Dave gradually starts singing for smarter animals, then starts playing a few big rooms, and is eventually singing his Psalms around all the swankiest hangouts in ancient Israel. As shown here, he's kind of a biblical crooner with some snappy Catskills patter.
"I accompany my songs with a lyre. I really enjoy a lyre. That's why Saul is my favorite king. (rim-shot) But I kid. You've been a lovely audience. I'll be here all week, and don't forget to tip your waiter."
Yup. Turns out Dave was the Sinatra of his day. In fact the parallel to Ol' Blue Eyes is shown quite clearly in Dave's oft-neglected 214th Psalm:
My kind of God
Eventually Dave the Poet becomes Dave the Lord's Anointed, which really ticks off ol' Saul the King, played by The Equalizer, who likes to think of himself as the Big Cheese in Zion. The Equalizer does manage at least some degree of tolerance for the young whelp since Dave the shepherd-poet turns out to be a helluva warrior as well, and the kid teams up with The Lord of Hosts to do some serious smiting of Israel's enemies. They smite the living shit out of a whole bunch of pagans with tribal names ending in "_ites", like the Hittites, Amalekites, Kenites, Jerahmeelites, Jezreelites, Carmelites, and Plebiscites. He even smote the asses of the obscure and peaceful sheep-herding tribe called the Woolites. In fact, for about a decade there, Dave and The Lord turned the entire Middle East into one massive smite-fest, filled with constant war and turbulence.
Come to think of it, things haven't changed much since then.
In the interest of accuracy, I should note that Dave didn't really need to smite the Plebiscites. He just hung out with them and got them to hold a direct vote on whether to surrender to Israel.
OK, that's a stretch. I'm really digging deep into the vault of obscurity to dream up something funny about this movie.
In truth, there are only two really silly things in the film:
Shay Mitchell at a topless beach
Liv Tyler see-thru