I finally watched The Wolf of Wall Street last night. No leftist has ever made a stronger indictment of capitalism. Nor an indictment of capitalism with more cocaine and sex. That it is not a leftist movie and in fact is totally apolitical only makes it stronger. I also find people fretting over Scorsese’s own position amusing, an issue which Andrew O’Hehir writes well about.
It’s not really one of Scorsese’s very best films because it is a good bit too long, but it is right there with Hugo as his best of the 21st century. Of course these days he’s too busy chronicling the heroes of his generation with lame documentaries, but when Scorsese tries, he’s still one of the greatest living directors.
In any case, I’d be hard pressed to give a reason why capitalism is a moral disaster than what is portrayed in this film.
Jimmy Durante promoting the National Recovery Administration.
I am consistently amazed at FDR’s propaganda network. I can only imagine what conservatives would say if Obama tried something like this.
….From Michael Hiltzik’s book on the New Deal:
Ickes groused about having been forced at a movie theatre to sit through a film clip featuring “a most disgusting exhibition put on by a low-class comedian as NRA propaganda” before the main show began. (The unnamed comedian was Jimmy Durante.)
“It would hardly appeal to the lowest order of human intelligence,” Ickes recorded in his diary, “and I am wondering if this sort of thing is being put on extensively. If it is, it will do the NRA more harm than good.” Frances Perkins, overhearing Ickes complain, volunteered that she had heard that “movie audiences in New York City were booing NRA propaganda.”
Elliot Gould’s apartment from The Long Goodbye is available for rent. For $2800 a month you can live in one of the most awesome apartments ever used on the silver screen, not to mention have a legendary view. People will call you Marlowe. You will have some hippie dippie neighbors who like to take their clothes off. And you will have a very finicky cat. Watch out for Jim Bouton though.
If I actually had money and lived in L.A., I would be on this very fast. Alas, neither condition applies. But if I did have the money, you know what car I would park there? Tammy Wynette’s limo.
Lars von Trier.
In the interview, his first since that Nazi kerfuffle at Cannes back in 2011, Von Trier revealed that nearly all of his past works have been fueled by heavy drug and alcohol use, claiming he used to drink a bottle of vodka every day in order to feel creative. Expressing concerns that all his sober mind could produce were “shitty films,” he said that Nymphomaniac, his first film after going to rehab, took him 18 months to write while the script for Dogville was finished during a 12-day drug binge. “I don’t know if I can make any more films, and that worries me,” he said.
“There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug addicts,” he added. “Who the hell would bother with a Rolling Stones without booze or with a Jimi Hendrix without heroin?,” a comment that will surely be well received by Nymphomaniac co-star and outspoken ex-addict Christian Slater.
I thought this was an appropriate response:
Von Trier has accomplished making both the worst film I have ever seen and being an utterly horrible human being whose has dedicated most of his career to exploiting women on screen while daring uncomfortable film fans to watch. Unfortunately, they will largely do so because ART.
In 1938, a couple of Jewish Americans went on vacation to Poland, where one of them was from. They made films of their trip. Some of them survived. Thanks to their grandson finding them and donating them to the Holocaust Museum, you can now watch 3 minutes of film of the Jewish section of Nasielsk, Poland just before World War II. Powerful, haunting stuff given what is about to happen there. Of the 3000 Jews who lived there in 1938, about 80 survived the war.
This will no doubt be the greatest film in history:
In a massive change of pace, Michael Bay is going from toy tentpole to a Benghazi political drama.
Bay is in negotiations to direct 13 Hours, the adaptation of Mitchell Zuckoff’s book about the attack on an American compound in Libya that left U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens dead.
Chuck Hogan wrote the script adapting the book, which details how on Sept. 11, 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound in Benghazi. The focus is on six members of a security team that valiantly fought to defend the many Americans stationed there. They only partially succeeded: Stevens and a foreign service worker were killed in one attack, and two contract workers were killed during a second assault on a CIA station nearby.
Erwin Stoff is producing the Paramount film.
Bay has spent the better part of almost a decade in the land of Transformers movies, which have budgets of more $200 million, if not $250 million, each. He also took time to do a passion project, 2013’s Pain & Gain, which had a budget of around $26 million. Sources say that 13 Hours would be budgeted in the $30 to $40 million range.
$30-40 million? Can Bay even shoot the scenes where the Obama Administration gives security information directly to Al Qaeda for that money?
I rarely put forth or publicize online petitions but I will make an exception here. The oldest standing monument to the film industry is falling apart and needs preservation before it is torn down. Vitagraph Studios was a leading maker of silent film from its studio in Brooklyn. Warner Brothers bought the company in 1925 and of course the film industry had already moved out of its New York original home to Hollywood.
Personally, I’d like to see a government-sponsored early film museum created in the area around the smokestack. It’s an incredibly valuable piece of the nation’s cultural heritage and is worth the investment.
I have been light on the blogging lately because of a week that has gone as the following:
Monday–teach, drive to brother in law’s house, watch Jets be the Jets and lose hilariously
Tuesday–visit Valley Forge, give lecture at Muhlenberg College, forced to ditch all my Lutheran jokes after finding out there are hardly any of my people there.
Wednesday–tour coal mine with Muhlenberg students. Buy chunks of coal for office decorations.
Thursday–eat ridiculous and amazing breakfast sandwich at Allentown’s indoor farmer’s market that includes not only eggs and bacon–but deep fried bacon! Drive to Providence in rain.
Friday–move to a new apartment.
Saturday–clean old apartment in the futile attempt to convince my landlord not to screw me on the deposit.
That was actually the short version that left out a bunch of stuff. So all I have to say right now is this: Face/Off was awesome. I should watch it again.
Now that I finished my 2nd book manuscript in 3 months, I have time for a vacation. About 50 minutes in fact before I get to the 4000 things that must be done yesterday. So I spent it watching John Ford’s 1951 film This is Korea. This is the Korean War version of the World War II documentaries the military commissioned from leading film directions. While I don’t know if it quite matches the artistic glory of John Huston’s The Battle of San Pietro, This is Korea is probably the best war documentary Ford made.
Ford pushed this project hard, convincing the government to allow him to make it. And he had to put together the editing, narration, voice work, sound, and concept. But the real heroes here are the war photographers, filming this absolutely jaw-dropping footage. I can’t easily find a number of U.S. military photographers who died in the war, but no doubt the number was significantly above zero, especially given that these guys were right on the front lines. Amazing.
Now, Ford does slightly simplify Korean history for American audiences. The film starts with him painting a Korea at rustic peace before the evil commies arrived. I mean, sure, there’s those 40 years of brutal Japanese occupation, but hey, let’s not let history get in the way of a pat narrative. And Ford never was too much into subtle imagery or messaging in his feature films, never mind a documentary made to get Americans on the home front to sacrifice for the cause–give blood or send care packages at the very least. But he was pretty bloody convincing to me in doing that. His soldiers’ lives are brutal. Terribly cold weather, dug in enemies, hills, a lack of clear progress. Throughout it all, the soldiers are brave. Not heroic. But just regular guys doing a job and doing it well and dying at it.
Well worth a viewing.