for 19 December 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
The Ballot or the Box Office
12/12 Your picture treatment
This was hysterical, you made my day!
Thanks for the kind words. I keep getting emails from Moscow about thousands of hot horny Soviet women who can't wait to meet me. True?
I think Conrad Bain is dead, isn't he?
Yes, it's true, Mr. Bain passed away. Not that such would necessarily affect his performance.
Plus, one could always hire his identical twin brother.
Are you any relation to the insane "Martini" character from Cuckoo's Nest as played by Danny DeVito?
Subject: Deadly Chad
Only one comment on casting:
Howard Hessemen (Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP) as Judge Sauls. He's a dead ringer. But wait, is Hesseman dead? Maybe that's why you didn't use him. Did anyone have him in Howard Stern's Death Pool?
Great call. Hesseman (who is very much alive) would, indeed, be great if he can pull off a North Florida accent and if he could pretend to be a hard-ass. Neither of which are a given.
But by opening the WKRP door to me, I'm now thinking about finding a place for Gordon Jump in any future project. Or perhaps, at the very least, in my heart.
Gettin' kinda tired of packin' and unpackin', town to town up and down the dial,
Thanks, you made my day!
Isn't blaming Steven like blaming Canada? Such a small, intimately kickable target!!
Bloating follows fasting follows bloating. Except that nowadays, everything is happening all at once, and the second you identify a trend you're accused of driving a stake through its heart, only to have the next critic/auteur/literary lion/woman's page editor supervise a resurrection....
Argella the Barbarian
Jeez, Argella, this is the second binge and purge email metaphor sent to me re: "Blame Steven." I'm going to look over the copy again for any subliminal references that might say things like: "Suck says you sure look fat today!" or "I hate my marriage and my job but pop-tarts are are always there for you" or "Even Suck is funnier than you!"
Remember Allegra, it's not love, it's just cheesecake.
BTW, no one at Suck blames Canada for anything except Maple Leaf native Rich Little and his Canuck cult of fans who keep pestering us about last Tuesday's feature.
Enjoyed your look at hollywood and the movie business circa the 60s to the present.
Would you clear up one thing for me Is your inclusion of North Dallas Forty in the list with Airport, Gator, Magnum Force, Billy Jack, Death Wish and Burt Reynolds whole career except for Deliverance a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
I am not sophisticated enough to noodle it out by myself plus I am shanked thru with bias I consider Burt Reynolds a friend who made lots of movies that made lots of money which is a huge feat in itself and got to know James Dickey because of his appreciation of North Dallas Forty and my appreciation of Deliverance
Any guidance you could give me would certainly help me work thru my artistic angst?
First, thanks for writing. Any friend of Burt's is a friend of Suck's although we have no idea how Burt feels about that. Would it help if we sent him a Suck T-shirt?
My inclusion of "North Dallas Forty" with all those movies was under the heading "popcorn movie" only, with no good or bad judgments attached. I left out "Deliverance" because that film was a smaller, less accessible movie than, say, "Smokey and the Bandit." "Herbie, The Love Bug" and "The Sting" are both in there because they were meant as mainstream entertainments, although one won several Academy Awards and the other didn't (I forget which, tho). Otherwise the movies in that list have little in common. My point was to show the skewed vision critics prefer these days of Spielberg inventing the mainstream, popcorn movie, when he obviously didn't.
Peter Biskind's book intentionally focuses on a few cliques of people and does it very well, but then he comes up with the overall conclusion that Spielberg and Lucas-type movies "ruined" Hollywood. There's no context. If Coppola and Scorsese were the norm back then, he'd be right. But they've always been the exception, then and now. At that time, Burt, Clint Eastwood, Streisand, Redford, etc. were huge stars whose movies were the norm (not "Mean Streets" or "The Conversation") and Biskind ignores them. It's a no-brainer that good movies are always the exception, except of course, when critics want to go after Spielberg.
But, yes, to relieve your angst, I do think "North Dallas Forty" is a better movie than "Herbie, The Love Bug!"
liked your piece on godard excellent research glad to hear he's coming back
Me, too. I can't wait to see JLG's new movie. And I thought "Forever Mozart" was a lot better than he lets on in that "New Yorker" interview. It in itself was a return to 1960s form.
Great piece. Finally, someone writes a compelling argument against that old hoary thesis.
(There's merit to the argument about how distribution methods have changed opening films in a way they didn't years ago. But to simply say Steven's eye candy has ruined movies is another example of a person saying "they don't protest the way they used to" or "back then, music meant something, yada yada yada.")
Anyway, nice work.
Heh, heh, sure "Gaff." Glad you liked it and I appreciate your unbiased praise for my humble, humble, work. And feel free to pass it on to Steven (please ...) as I'm looking for a little pre-WGA strike work and I've got a great idea for a picture about the Tet offensive where we win.
SKG Super Kool Guys, I mean it!
Team Player Bert
Yes, it's nice to avoid rounding up the usual suspects, and yes, there never was a magical Golden Age of anything. At best, no year will ever see more than a handful of fine films...or fine books, fine art, or fine anything else. Genius remains scarce. And, as you also surely know, there are still lots of good small films being made, and those of us who live in downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn or SF can see them without any trouble. But why can't anyone else?
If you live in most parts of this country, and that includes the suburbs of even the largest cities, you are offered a choice of several multiplexes, all showing the same trite fare. One would be perfectly justified in believing all cinema was created as an excuse to eat popcorn. A recent letter to the Wall Street Journal, complaining of this, was answered with the usual financial argument: people want to see whatever's popular, and it makes more sense to add an extra screen for Charlie's Angels than to show La Bouche for a week or so.
This is the argument that movies are like lettuce...see them while they're fresh, and throw them away when they rot. It's probably true, too how many people will buy and archive Charlie's Angels to watch years from now, glorying in its subtle pleasures?
Still, any multiplex always has at least one room with three people in it. It's hard to see how they could be worse off devoting one of 16 screening rooms to something different...it could be French, or Italian, or German, or just pretentious American. Given that the country is clearly overbuilt with movie palaces anyway, the inability of the movie trade to provide venues for small, edgy films is even more annoying than usual.
One possible model for a brave new world sits on 8th Avenue and 43 Street in NYC. It's an old porno house, with movies and live acts and the usual three people and a goat adventures. Dear Mayor G imposed some Draconian zoning laws, and while they still make their profits with porn, the owners found themselves with "theaters" they were not legally allowed to use for one-handed viewing. Tiny, experimental theater groups (yes...typically also three people and a goat, but now it's art, and the goat quotes Pirandello) were offered performance space for peppercorn rents. On any given evening, you can walk in and find somebody doing something interesting; every now and then, having learned their craft by doing it, the theater companies graduate to better quarters and better work. It's odd, but nobody seems to mind.
Could some such thing be done with multiplexes. Perhaps by requiring one room to seat no more than 49 people, they might be economically forced to show non-Hollywood features? Or a bonus theatre of such a size might be required as the price for building a multiplex, the way amenities are now required as the price for exceeding certain arbitrary zoning rules? Surely some such is possible.
Beats me. But since movies run on money, and always have, such a methodology seems more promising than complaining that Star Wars sucked all the air out of the room. As indeed your fine article so clearly shows.
As you seem to have a working knowledge of one-handed movie going, can you recommend which theaters specialize in goat shows? It's, uh, for a future Suck piece ...
*Ahem*, anyway, re: multiplexes and "La Bouche," well, I'm on the Wall Street Journal's side. As farmtown USA's own George Lucas used to say (paraphrasing) "Jean Luc Godard does not play Modesto." I don't think the multi-plexes have any responsibility except to stay in business, especially when people can go to Blockbuster or find artsy-fartsy stuff on cable. I'm of the old DIY/Fugazi school that says that people who want to find stuff like Godard will and it'd be wasted time imposing it on people who don't. If for some reason French cinema finds an American audience like it used to, then they'll come out for it. But it's no use selling abstract art at Yankee Stadium. In fact, they'd probably just resist it more in the future if you did. Godard certainly isn't interested in them, btw, so no hard feelings.
However, I do think movie corporations have a responsibility to maintain their libraries, since, like it or not, what was once just a throwaway entertainment is now our history. Like baseball owners, they do have some kind of national trust to maintain. It's one of the reasons I don't knock Ted Turner just for the colorization thing, since he's preserved movies in one hundred different ways that I do appreciate.