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Topics/Questions/Exercises of the Week—7 August 2009

Above: Robert Wyatt, remarkably well-adjusted.

Hammer Down, Rabbit Ears: Well, whatever you might actually think of it, the idea of Steven Spielberg remaking Harvey is certainly, er, a surprise.

And no sooner is the project announced than the guy who everyone thought was going to play the Elwood P. Dowd character says he's notgoing to play the Elwood P. Dowd character. Anne Thompson, from her new perch at IndieWire, surveys the slate surrounding Harvey andconcludes "Studios Play It Safe." Conceded, provided one puts an "r" at the end of the last word.

"Steven Spielberg is film's greatest humanist," said Fox co-chair Tom Rothman, as to why Spielberg is the perfect person to direct a remake of a piece about a drunk whose imaginary best friend is a six-foot plus rabbit. Wait a minute, has Rothman been reading Armond White, film criticism's greatest humanist?

The Challenges Of Adulthood, Or, How Sweet To Be An Idiot: At Big Hollywood, they're making a meal out of G.I. Joe. Of John Miller and Donnie [sp?] Deutsch's video grapplings over the film's iconography, they note that Miller destroys the MSNBC talking points. Then, they avow that Ben Shapiro "seals the deal" with his analysis of "G.I. Joe in the age of Obama." Note that everyone involved in these musings, from Deutzch [sp?] to Miller on down, is of legal drinking age. (Okay, maybe not Ben Shapiro.) Rather makes one yearn for the sweet caress of a rusty razor against one's throat. How about it?

Let Me Show You What My Politics (Sexual And Otherwise) Are: Meanwhile, at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeff Wells has a few beers with his college-age son and comes up with a plan to solve the world's problems: "Exterminate, forbid or significantly reduce selfishness in our society and we're obviously looking at a better world. Therefore the extermination of the right would theoretically be a reasonably good thing." Yikes. You know, maybe the Big Hollywood guys are right—there really are too many puling pinko bleeding heart liberals in film and film journalism. Some diversity would be nice. I'm rooting for Karina Longworth to come out as some kind of quasi-Randroid libertarian, myself.

Which leads to the Question: Why don't movie bloggers write about movies?

Speaking of Ms. Longworth, and here I must tread carefully, lest I be perceived once more as an unpleasant attack bear, the Spout writer this week makes her debut at the contrarian on-line "e-zine" (that's what they call it in the New York Times' crossword puzzle) Slate, or rather at its femalecentric coeval The XX Factor, with a piece with a rather peculiarly formatted headline, that is "The Ugly Truth's Cynical Rewrite of Sally's Fake Orgasm." (I know, I know, writers aren't responsible for headlines, or their formatting. But nevertheless. What's the deal. Style counts.) The nut of the argument: "The Ugly Truth is just the natural next step in the disintegration of the romantic comedy, which lately seems queasy about overt female sexuality. Juno and Knocked Up tell us sex necessarily results in unplanned pregnancy and general chaos; Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Superbad show women who aggressively instigate sex getting brutally rejected; (500) Days of Summer tells us that women with a healthy appetite for sex are ultimately heartless and out to ruin the lives of sensitive man-boys." It is not lost on her that The Ugly Truth was written by three women: "Surely they didn’t want to just offer a retrograde vision of sexual roles." Oh yeah, sez who? Wasn't it Foucault who was really big on the notion of the oppressed enthusiastically colluding with the system that oppresses them?

Armond White-ism Of The Week: "Bujalski bests Cassavetes’ concentration on emotional cripples by featuring a physically challenged heroine—as if his generation lacked neuroses. Wheelchair-bound Jeannie seems remarkably well adjusted—self-confident and sexually active. Tilly Hatcher displays a direct stare plus a strong, wide back and shoulders." From his review of Beeswax, which he of course does not care for but likes better than any other "mumblecore" film.  I'm not sure what I'm more in love with: the exquisite condescension of "remarkably well-adjusted" or the non-sequitur description of Hatcher, which subtext seems to be "I didn't know that people in wheelchairs could look like that!" The guy really IS film criticism's greatest humanist!

As miserable as “The Ugly Truth” is, here’s the real ugly truth: Yes, three women wrote it. Yes, a woman directed it. Yes, a woman runs the studio that made it. Guess what? They wrote it as ignorant misogynist swill because that’s what makes money. $62 million US so far. It’ll probably make twice its budget, meaning it’ll technically be a hit. So, what it boils down to is that if the romantic comedy is falling apart, and trashing feminist sexual attitudes (and to be honest I’m not so sure they are) then a lot of women are buying into it wholesale.
That’s a gorgeous picture of Robert Wyatt. What’s it from?
Lifted from the website of RW’s current label, Domino.

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