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Phantom Thread is a low-key quality drama about the stresses of the artistic temperament starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a 1950s genius dress designer. It’s a Paul Thomas Anderson movie so of course it’s a sumptuous aesthetic experience. Anderson, along with Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, is one of the last directors to work on traditional film stock rather than digital. If you recall the beautiful late 1940s department store Anderson conjured up in Anderson’s The Master for Joaquin Phoenix to briefly work in as child photographer, this movie is all like that:

Phantom Thread did well in the Oscar nominations with six: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson), Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville as DDL’s sister who manages his house of couture and fires his mistresses for him when he bores of them), Best Score (Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead), and Best Costumes (Mark Bridges). Megan Ellison, zillionaire Larry Ellison’s daughter, produced, and her name on a project has rapidly become a pretty good indicator of upscale quality. (Her brother David produces more commercial sci-fi movies like the Star Trek series and World War Z.)

Day-Lewis as an actor is kind of like Stanley Kubrick as a director, taking years between movies but then delivering something astonishing. He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans. It’s natural to assume he must be a jerk to take his acting so seriously, but by most accounts he is a superbly considerate gentleman. The strains of preparing for his roles apparently wear him down (he took a couple of years off from stardom to apprentice with a master cobbler in Florence), so he’s announced he’s retiring after this movie.

Day-Lewis, age 60, the only man to win three Best Actor Oscars, probably won’t win a fourth for Phantom Thread. Most observers assume Gary Oldman will win for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Oldman, 59, hasn’t gotten his due from the Academy Awards (this is only his second nomination even though Oldman, like Day-Lewis, has been doing memorable lead roles since the mid-1980s), while Day-Lewis has one of the highest Oscar batting averages of all time considering how few movies he makes. (Phantom Thread is his first since Lincoln five years ago.)

Further, Phantom Thread’s Reynolds Woodcock doesn’t offer Day-Lewis a showy role like Daniel Plainview in PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood or Bill the Butcher in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York in which Day-Lewis was so imposing he wound up intimidating the normally formidable Leonardo DiCaprio. The character is written as a heterosexual fashion designer who is neither very masculine nor flamboyantly effeminate.

So, sentiment this time around seems to be in favor of rectifying Oldman’s lack of Oscar appreciation. On the other hand, Oscar voters seem to like Phantom Thread more than audiences have so far (I thought it was rather funny but it didn’t get many laughs at the Laemmle in North Hollywood and viewers exited in an at best bemused mood), so you never know.

Phantom Thread continues PT Anderson’s odd knack for making fictionalized biopics that are less sensational than their real life subjects. There Will Be Blood left out several of the more lurid events of Los Angeles oilman Edward Doheny’s life, including the Teapot Dome scandal and the Greystone murder-suicide that inspired Raymond Chandler’s detective fiction. The Master presented Scientology cult leader L. Ron Hubbard as a bit of a blowhard, but still kind of a reasonable guy fulfilling a societal need for talk therapy, especially for military veterans suffering PTSD.

Phantom Thread is more or less inspired by the Anglo-American dress designer Charles James, who was a huge deal in the 1950s although I had not heard of him until reading about this movie. (He sold his name in so many convoluted ventures that his children have had a hard time settling all the various legal claims to make use of it.)

In the movie, the designer goes through moderate manic-depressive cycles, but his mania mostly manifests as working long hours sketching designs and being cutting toward people who want his precious time or are making too much distracting noise buttering their toast. He has his sister to keep him on track and, despite all his ups and downs, he lives a rather orderly existence.

In real life, however, Charles James existed in a whirl of hysterical narcissistic tumult until the IRS eventually noted that he never paid his taxes. Laura Jacobs wrote in Vanity Fair in 1998:

A friend remembers James tipping a taxi driver with a $100 bill—he thought it was a single. James continually paid employees with postdated checks, wrote rubber ones at restaurants. And his books were a disaster. “He had all sorts of accountants coming in and trying to straighten things out,” says Jeanne Bultman, who did some bookkeeping for James. “Nobody was successful, because he’d tear the whole thing apart.” It wasn’t that James hated ledgers and numbers— he loved them. “It was detail, you see,” continues Bultman, “detail the same way that his gowns were detailed, and it could always be better.” …

Also in 1954, a surprise announcement: James, at 48, married Nancy Lee Gregory. It was like something out of Noël Coward. James had been having a very public fling with a man named Keith Cuerdon, a stage designer who lived on Fire Island with a wife named Nancy. What happened next depends on who tells the story: (1) Nancy took up Charles to punish her husband; (2) Charles stole away Nancy, who happened to be rich. These are outside interpretations. Those close to the couple say it was a true marriage, if a strange one. “She looked like a refined version, a quiet version, of him,” remembers Miles White. …

Stories abound of James’s inability to deal with even the smallest setbacks. He threatened to release a jar of moths in the salon of a furrier who fired him for nondelivery. He actually did empty a jar of cockroaches on the front desk of the Delmonico Hotel—a stunt to justify not paying his rent. … he would sell the same dress to three women, creating chaos, or borrow a dress from one client to lend to another. And downtown, manufacturers were helpless before his high-handed demands, his offhand delivery of designs, and his constant financial shortfalls. He was renegotiating debt, merging and remerging his finances with new companies in a kind of shell game that, according to Coleman, would make “ownership of his name an unresolvable question.” That name which meant so much! Nancy’s money allowed James to keep creating (all of 36 garments in 1954)—and to sue, sue, sue the thieves on Seventh Avenue.

“He loved accounting books and lawsuits,” remembers Scaasi. “Anything that had to do with finance and drama and the drama of business. Because he was a great orator and it gave him a chance to spout whatever he believed in.” And so James sued clients (Paulette Goddard, who hadn’t paid for a pantsuit), editors (Sally Kirkland at Life, for writing fashion captions he didn’t like), even institutions (he slapped a suit on the Brooklyn Museum, loving home to hundreds of James creations, because he suddenly wanted his clothes back). …

This sounds pretty entertaining, but nothing like this is in the movie.

Another problem with Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s usual trouble with coming up with a good plot. Anderson is a great director at both cinematography and in working with actors, and he’s pretty good at writing dialogue. But, like Spike Lee, he’s just not good at coming up with compelling scenarios. Why did Daniel Plainview want to kill Paul Dano’s preacher?

This story, about the designer’s latest girlfriend’s increasingly desperate attempts to hold his attention, after taking awhile to get going, actually develops some momentum as it starts to resemble a Hitchcock suspense movie. But then it resolves with a twist that leaves you shaking your head.

Still, despite its flaws, Phantom Thread sticks in your head, as shown by the length at which I’ve rambled on about it. As a movie about making beautiful things, it benefits from having two superb artists devote themselves to it.

Wokeness score: Zero. The only racial diversity in it is represented by the House of Woodcock’s richest client, a Barbara Hutton-type poor little rich girl, marrying, imprudently, a Dominican playboy modeled upon Porfirio Rubirosa.

Clickbait critics might decide that Phantom Thread straightwashes fashion designers. Anderson and Day-Lewis are heterosexual family men with seven kids between them.

 
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  1. I don’t know anything about clothes (as my wife quotes Seinfeld to me, “you have no eye for fashion,”) but the most impressive art exhibit I’ve been to in the last several years was one of Roberto Capucci’s dresses; you’d be crazy to wear one, but I came out of it really impressed with them as pure art.

    https://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/411.html

    And that scene from the Master- I think Steve has talked about how Matthew Weiner and “Mad Men” knew that if you hid American mid-Century aesthetics (of both people and objects) in a lot of kulturkampf it would get past the censors, but that scene, in which those same aesthetics are just enjoyed without any sense of hurry or anxiety, is just breathtaking. I haven’t seen the movie, which would probably be a downer after it.

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    • Agree: Luke Lea
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  2. You mean Porfirio Rubirosa at the end there, but yeah.

    I’d say the other characteristic weakness is length: Anderson could have hewn a much shorter and tighter movie out of that material. I get that he digs languor and that it’s very appropriate in this case, but come on.

    Also, very distracting for me was the fact that the Day-Lewis character was extremely reminiscent in both looks and manner of my first father-in-law, an elegant and fastidious man with some mental health issues.

    I found the female lead bewitching in a lot of unexpected ways, whatever her name is. My wife and I thought the couple’s big fight over dinner was the most convincing thing of the kind we’d ever seen on film.

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    • Replies: @JamesG
    Of course he meant Rubirosa but that Diaz guy was pretty interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porfirio_Díaz
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  3. Love the story of DDL moving to Italy mid-career to make shoes (evidently a cobbler only repairs shoes so he was not that according to an I- Steve commenter)…the more you know…

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  4. “He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans.”

    I’ve shared this anecdote here before, but its appropos for this comment.

    When I was in the army, I was assigned (as a major) to inspect a unit in the field. This involved walking from position to position and visiting/observing different soldiers all day long. I was carrying a rifle, and at the beginning of the two week exercise, I decided to always literally carry it (gripped in my hand), rather than sling it over my shoulder (where its out of the way, and I would have both hands free)-my thought being that a shouldered weapon appears very casual, and it was my job, as an outside inspector, to appear ‘ready’ or professional (imagine a movie scene where soldiers are carrying their weapons in their hands. Now imagine those weapons slung over their shoulders. Completely different image/presumption of ‘readiness’).

    After a few days of doing this, I suddenly realized that I had misplaced my weapon-which in the military, is probably the worst non-crime one could commit: entire bases are closed, field exercises are cancelled in order to conduct a mass search, and careers are humiliatingly ended over such.

    After a few seconds of panic, I realized that the weapon was actually gripped in my hand, where it had been for the last three days or so. I had gotten used to the weight, and feel, and the act of gripping so completely that the weapon’s presence was entirely unconscious.

    joe

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    • Replies: @Autochthon
    I've done this during lengthy preparations for especially important ceremonies in an honour guard. Blanks and outdated rifles, though, so less panic about safety, but the same panic about humiliation....

    The best insight and explanation I've ever encountered about method-acting, though: bravo zulu.

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  5. That final observation is hilarious.

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  6. Another problem with Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s usual trouble with coming up with a good plot.

    You can say that again. Anderson is such a talent, it’s a shame that as a writer he seems to suffer from the delusion that if a story is interesting or entertaining then it can’t possible be Art.

    I enjoyed Inherent Vice – perhaps he should stick to adaptations? (Advice that Tarantino should follow, since none of his films hold up half so well as Jackie Brown.) There’s no shame in being better at directing than writing.

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    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    Agreed. Jackie Brown, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, is Tarantino's only good film. The rest is pastiche.
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  7. The other day I read Day Lewis was retiring and I said “but he’s not that old”….

    Then I realized he was 60 yrs old and said damn….I don’t blame him for retiring….I hope to be done by 55 if possible.

    Wanted to see this movie but no theater near me is playing it.

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  8. OT: CNBC hack John Harwood sits down for a beer and an interview with Bill Kristol. Just one highlight:

    Harwood: You were part of a movement that changed the establishment but ultimately became what one would call the Republican establishment. Do you feel at all responsible for the creation of the conditions that produced this?

    Kristol: A little bit. It was a mistake to — I was critical of the 2013 immigration bill. The Iraq War didn’t go the way I and many others hoped. It was reasonable of voters to say, “Well, gee, that didn’t work out too well. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”

    The 2008 financial crisis — that wasn’t supposed to happen. Sarah Palin, one of my more famous failures, I guess you’d say. I thought Palin as McCain’s VP would be a way to almost channel a certain kind of populism into what I would say is a healthy conservatism.

    The financial crisis just wasn’t supposed to happen, who could have anticipated that it would have based on the policies in place? How did these dunces get to be considered elites? Perhaps neocons should move to a practice of merit based punditry and end the nepotism.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/24/speakeasy-with-john-harwood-bill-kristol-on-age-of-trump.html

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    • Replies: @Alden
    Conservative men may have gone for Palin, but liberal woman, especially Jewish women still hate her with a passion. Some of my Jewish women friends almost spat when they said her name.

    Here is why liberal women hated Palin.

    1 Pretty
    2 5 kids
    3 believing Christian
    4 against abortion
    5 hunts, gardens, outdoor girl

    One thing I’ve noticed about every environmentalist I’ve ever known, male and female, Jewish and goyim; they are the most citified sissy ignorant of the outdoors, plants, trees, wild animals etc people I know.

    Although it’s in a desert, there are plenty of redwood trees in S California. Most of the Jewish environmentalists in S California don’t know a redwood from an oak. Yet they were very active in some sort of save the redwoods movement

    Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.
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  9. My wife has been bugging me to see that: I told her we can catch it on the plane.

    Time to buy more flowers.

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    • Replies: @keypusher
    It's funny, I probably overrate Phantom Thread because it's so totally non-woke (thanks for that bit of shorthand, Steve). Movies like that are going to become increasingly rare in the years to come. You might want to suck it up and see it lest you be dragged to something worse.
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  10. It really sounds as if the real Charles James was a more interesting character than the fictional one.

    Although James was clearly what we would call gay (or at least bi) today, he also married and had two children (although the marriage did not last). The modern spin on this would be that James was really gay but married a woman out of evil 1950s societal pressure but I’m not so sure it’s that simple. Real life is very complicated. I’m guessing Anderson avoided the whole gay thing because (1) it’s not really permitted to have gay characters that are less than heroic (or interested in women too) and (2) the gay angle would have interfered with the plot (such as it is) that Anderson was really interested in pursuing.

    Other than the fact that both are designers, the Anderson character is not much like James. James sought to marry “up” to a woman with money while the Anderson character pursues a waitress. I don’t get the feeling that the real James would have ever gone after a waitress (maybe a waiter).

    Aside from deviating (no pun intended) from the biography of the real James, I thought that the plot twist at the end of The Phantom Thread made no sense at all. It’s an interesting a plot device but not something that actual human beings (as opposed to characters in a work of literature) would do. People are crazy but not THAT crazy. Is it supposed to be some kind of your go grrrl female empowerment thing? To me it stands as a dark metaphor for how feminism ends up really working as a sort of Harrison Bergeron system – the only way women can achieve equality is by crippling men. And men agree to allow this to be done to them. Maybe it’s not so crazy after all because it seems to be happening in real life.

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  11. He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans.

    What did he do for his role as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting?

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    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    Anti, well he didn't ham it up.
    , @guest
    Apprenticed in a butcher's shop, and cracked the heads of the filthy Irish.
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  12. Phantom Thread continues PT Anderson’s odd knack for making fictionalized biopics that are less sensational than their real life subjects.

    I wonder how common this is. Compare real-life criminals Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard with their counterparts in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera and Brecht and Weil’s Threepenny Opera. Gay’s characters, though not a patch on their originals, are a lot livelier than than Brecht and Weil’s. Brecht and Weil were presumably handicapped by their need to make capitalism the villain. Gay had a better excuse, in that he was also satirizing Robert Walpole, which could get you into very serious trouble.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Sheppard

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Wild

    Back when Cole Porter was alive, a biopic obviously couldn’t touch his homosexuality; the recent one didn’t have that problem, but oversanctified him instead. (Anderson is being blamed for writing Charles James’ homosexuality out of his picture, but perhaps the reason he did that is that he would have had to portray a gay man going straight, which is inconceivable, John Maynard Keynes be damned.)

    I suppose Anderson’s problem is the idea that serious movies should not be about larger-than-life characters, just as there used to be an idea that serious novels should be more like Updike and less like Wolfe.

    Incidentally, Day-Lewis is married to Arthur Miller’s daughter, which I’m sure helps pay the bills during his long breaks from earning a paycheck.

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    • Replies: @guest
    "I suppose Anderson's problem is the idea that serious should not be about larger-than-life characters"

    That sounds like more of a relativistic hang-up (if that makes any sense). Because Andersonian characters are plenty big. There Will Be Blood may have left out some interesting real-life details, but Daniel Plainview is plenty big as a character. He's a walking meme in the milkshake scene.

    Phoenix is plenty big in the Master. Adam Sandler is way the heck too big in Punch-Drunk Love. Tom Cruise is gargantuan in Magnolia. Boogie Nights, well, just the whole dang thing.

    PTA doesn't exactly do reserved costume dramas. He's not following the usual rules of seriousness, see for instance the incomprehensible prophetic rap in Magnolia, which is like something out of Twin Peaks. Or the motorcycle ride in the Master. Which felt like a troll. So much of his movies are trolling me, I feel.

    For some reason he holds back on certain eccentricities in the real-life quirks of the inspiration for his characters. The fact that serious movies are supposed to be a certain way isn't convincing to me, considered by itself.
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  13. Speaking of movies, this promises to be an iSteve extravaganza. I’m thinking the two gangs will be a grab bag of races and genders. Maybe the Jets will be cisnormative and the Sharks will be non-binary. Somehow, the white men will have to be the villains, so maybe they can weave in a clip of Bill Kristol telling us how Tucker Carlson is a racist.

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    • Replies: @The Millennial Falcon
    Why on earth would he do this?

    Nothing about West Side Story needs to be updated - he's not beating the script, the choreography or the on-location cinematography. Not too hard to beat Beymer and Wood in the leads, but they weren't liabilities anyway and good luck on replacing Chakiris, Moreno or Oakland.

    Only way I see it being worthwhile is updating it to the 90s and moving it to the West Coast with black vs. Mexican gangs in Watts or Compton, with the blacks as the Jets and the Mexicans as the incoming sharks. But then you've got gangbangers and cholos dancing and belting out 50's era showtunes - would have to rewrite the score.
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  14. This sounds like the kind of movie I would enjoy. And since I don’t — or, rather, can’t* — keep up with what’s out there, thanks for the tip!

    * I say can’t because when you live in a “low-culture” place like southeast Tennessee you have no one around you to tell you what’s good. But since more and more young hipsters from up North and out West are moving to Chattanooga for its beauty and low real estate prices, maybe that will change in the years ahead (after I am dead, alas).

    The internet also helps. To quote from my book, “Hick towns across America now enjoy better access to a wider range of cultural resources than did even New York City a generation ago.” For more, see here: https://goo.gl/8cWYCW

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  15. Porfirio Diaz was the late 19th century dictator of Mexico. I think you mean the eminent playboy Porfirio Rubirosa.

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  16. Oldman to win? Does this mean that he’s been forgiven? I recall 2014 when Showbiz411 ran the headline: “Actor Gary Oldman Ends His Career in Hollywood with Racist, Anti-Semitic Interview.”

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  17. DDL has a powerful physical presence and he performs with a lot of gusto, but I’ve never been all that enthralled by his performances. He uniformly picks really good directors and does good work, but among his contemporaries, I’ve always been more impressed with Nic Cage (the opposite of DDL in terms of off-screen dignity and on-screen discipline). He’s done so many turkeys and dumb actioners, that he’s pretty much a punchline, but he can do anything – from bizarro Coen bros. comedy (Raising Arizona) to prestige romcom (Moonstruck) to super-serious Oscar bait (Leaving Las Vegas) to epic self-deprecation (Adaptation). I love some of his lesser known stuff too – Matchstick Men, Trapped in Paradise.

    As for Gary Oldman, yikes. Never understood the accolades. He can chew scenery and play gonzo, but his overacting always struck me as of the ordinary variety. I don’t see much difference between him and his buddy Tim Roth – both capable actors who lack pathos and tend to overcompensate with theatrics. I’d throw Jason Isaacs in there too. Kenneth Branagh has a lot of those tendencies too – maybe it’s the stage background.

    The best American supporting actors have consistently outshone Oldman and those other British hams. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) and Paul Giamatti of course, but also the still underrated Vincent D’Onofrio. All these guys pulled off popcorn-movie villainy as well or better than Oldman (D’Onofrio’s Edgar from Men in Black probably the best of the bunch), and did much better jobs anchoring prestige pics and nailing support roles.

    And among the UK contingent, Alfred Molina is just so much more human on screen. And Sean Bean is better at the tragic villain.

    /rant

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    • Replies: @guest
    If Daniel Day-Lewis did as many movies as Nick Cage would he turn in as many turkey performances? I doubt it. Nick Cage is talented but simply lacks taste. Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.

    Some of Cage's eccentricities pay off. I don't think anyone else would have thought to do the insane voice he picked for Peggy Sue Got Married, but it works. I don't much care for Leaving Los Vegas, but there's a scene early on where he gets fired and instead of blowing up, as I thought he would, he puts on this little boy voice and says, "I'm sorry."

    We can discount mediocre performances and a certain number of misfires, but I can't see accepting the performances I like (Adaptation, Valley Girl, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, Honeymoon in Vegas) and simply ignoring the mountain of turds he's put out. On balance, I think he's had more turds than winners.

    And by turds, I don't mean simply annoying or unbelievable performances, but performances that take you out of the movie and make you fear for his sanity. A couple--Vampire's Kiss, Deadfall--could qualify as "so bad they're good," but most are so bad they're bad.

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  18. Gary Oldman was astounding in Darkest Hour

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  19. @The Anti-Gnostic

    He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans.
     
    What did he do for his role as William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting?

    Anti, well he didn’t ham it up.

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    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    You never disappoint, sir.

    https://youtu.be/Vk9gFwoswbg
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  20. Won’t a movie about a straight women’s fashion designer be consider cultural appropriation by the limp-wrist sect? Is there really such a thing as a straight women’s fashion designer?

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  21. OT

    I have discovered the existence of the Edwardian game “Suffrageto” that pits feisty female trouble-makers against doughty police attempting to protect the House of Commons.

    Surely this could be reintroduced as an AntiFa game (Gestapo!) featuring violent thugs attempting to close down a conservative speaker at an Ivy League university. NotInOurNameO? There are interesting possibilities for “risk” cards: e.g. Discover Steve Sailer and switch sides!

    http://suffrajitsu.com/suffragetto-a-suffragettes-vs-police-board-game-rediscovered-after-100-years/

    http://www.edwardianpromenade.com/politics/3-games-that-helped-the-suffragettes-win-the-vote/

    Georgia Tech (why?) hosts a copy of the rules, the board and a description of the historical background:

    http://pwp.gatech.edu/suffragetto/historiography/

    N.B. There was also a “British Empire” game that one won by trading with the colonies. This surely might be revived after Brexit.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-35291243

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  22. “Why did Daniel Plainview want to kill Paul Dano’s preacher?”

    Because the title demanded it?

    But seriously, because he was first inconvenienced, then humiliated (in that “I’ve abandoned my child” scene) by the preacher. Also, because Daniel is a homicidal misanthrope, and promises are promises: Plainview told Sunday he’d kill him, and eventually he got around to it.

    As for why he killed the preacher exactly when he did, there’s no reason except that the preacher put himself in a position to be killed. I assume Daniel put the preacher on his kill list long before, but it wasn’t convenient to go through with it until that moment. When he no longer needed him, and the preacher had placed himself in the lion’s jaws.

    Which made the scene a textbook example of an anti-climax. But I liked it, because Daniel was the sort of character to commit overkill. Also, because it was Sunday’s punishment for being greedy and for seeking filthy lucre from the one man in the world whom he should have stayed away from.

    The problem was not one of character motivation, in my opinion, but of plot.

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  23. @The Anti-Gnostic

    He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans.
     
    What did he do for his role as William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting?

    Apprenticed in a butcher’s shop, and cracked the heads of the filthy Irish.

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  24. @keypusher
    Phantom Thread continues PT Anderson’s odd knack for making fictionalized biopics that are less sensational than their real life subjects.

    I wonder how common this is. Compare real-life criminals Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard with their counterparts in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera and Brecht and Weil's Threepenny Opera. Gay's characters, though not a patch on their originals, are a lot livelier than than Brecht and Weil's. Brecht and Weil were presumably handicapped by their need to make capitalism the villain. Gay had a better excuse, in that he was also satirizing Robert Walpole, which could get you into very serious trouble.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Sheppard

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Wild

    Back when Cole Porter was alive, a biopic obviously couldn't touch his homosexuality; the recent one didn't have that problem, but oversanctified him instead. (Anderson is being blamed for writing Charles James' homosexuality out of his picture, but perhaps the reason he did that is that he would have had to portray a gay man going straight, which is inconceivable, John Maynard Keynes be damned.)

    I suppose Anderson's problem is the idea that serious movies should not be about larger-than-life characters, just as there used to be an idea that serious novels should be more like Updike and less like Wolfe.

    Incidentally, Day-Lewis is married to Arthur Miller's daughter, which I'm sure helps pay the bills during his long breaks from earning a paycheck.

    “I suppose Anderson’s problem is the idea that serious should not be about larger-than-life characters”

    That sounds like more of a relativistic hang-up (if that makes any sense). Because Andersonian characters are plenty big. There Will Be Blood may have left out some interesting real-life details, but Daniel Plainview is plenty big as a character. He’s a walking meme in the milkshake scene.

    Phoenix is plenty big in the Master. Adam Sandler is way the heck too big in Punch-Drunk Love. Tom Cruise is gargantuan in Magnolia. Boogie Nights, well, just the whole dang thing.

    PTA doesn’t exactly do reserved costume dramas. He’s not following the usual rules of seriousness, see for instance the incomprehensible prophetic rap in Magnolia, which is like something out of Twin Peaks. Or the motorcycle ride in the Master. Which felt like a troll. So much of his movies are trolling me, I feel.

    For some reason he holds back on certain eccentricities in the real-life quirks of the inspiration for his characters. The fact that serious movies are supposed to be a certain way isn’t convincing to me, considered by itself.

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    • Replies: @keypusher
    Sounds like you know a lot about Anderson and his movies. Do you have a theory for why the character in Phantom Thread is less flamboyant/more tightly wound (sorry) than his inspiration?
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  25. @slumber_j
    You mean Porfirio Rubirosa at the end there, but yeah.

    I'd say the other characteristic weakness is length: Anderson could have hewn a much shorter and tighter movie out of that material. I get that he digs languor and that it's very appropriate in this case, but come on.

    Also, very distracting for me was the fact that the Day-Lewis character was extremely reminiscent in both looks and manner of my first father-in-law, an elegant and fastidious man with some mental health issues.

    I found the female lead bewitching in a lot of unexpected ways, whatever her name is. My wife and I thought the couple's big fight over dinner was the most convincing thing of the kind we'd ever seen on film.

    Of course he meant Rubirosa but that Diaz guy was pretty interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porfirio_Díaz

    Read More
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  26. OT: Americans now reverting back to their evil old anti-LGBT ways under Trump: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2018/01/25/in-three-years-lgbt-americans-have-gone-from-triumph-to-backlash-blame-trump/

    Nary a mention in the article that LGBT activists with the microphone have been sore winners out to humiliate their enemies and stamp their fabulous, fabulous boots on our necks. That couldn’t possibly the reason why there is increasing backlash, could it?

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  27. @Buffalo Joe
    Anti, well he didn't ham it up.

    You never disappoint, sir.

    Read More
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  28. “Wokeness score: Zero. The only racial diversity in it is represented by the House of Woodcock’s richest client, a Barbara Hutton-type poor little rich girl, marrying, imprudently, a Dominican playboy modeled upon Porfirio Diaz.”

    Weird, Paul Anderson’s real life partner is the black/Jewess Maya Rudolph and he has black/Jewish offspring with her. I’ve never seen anyone of his films, but have read about them. Most of them take place in America’s white past, especially the 1950s. Maya Rudolph can never be the leading lady in his films. Anderson is a strange man.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Antlitz Grollheim
    SWPL's are obsessed w the aesthetics of past White cultures. Just look at Wes Anderson, it's like they're all in a timeless 1960.
    , @Anonymous

    Weird, Paul Anderson’s real life partner is the black/Jewess Maya Rudolph and he has black/Jewish offspring with her. I’ve never seen anyone of his films, but have read about them. Most of them take place in America’s white past, especially the 1950s. Maya Rudolph can never be the leading lady in his films. Anderson is a strange man.
     
    I'm surprised no one (especially Steve) has contrasted Paul Thomas Anderson with Paul W.S. Anderson in this regard, given the latter's fondness for casting his own muse/wife/mother-of-his-children, the very white Milla Jovovich, in cheerfully low-brow futuristic actioners.
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  29. @The Z Blog
    Speaking of movies, this promises to be an iSteve extravaganza. I'm thinking the two gangs will be a grab bag of races and genders. Maybe the Jets will be cisnormative and the Sharks will be non-binary. Somehow, the white men will have to be the villains, so maybe they can weave in a clip of Bill Kristol telling us how Tucker Carlson is a racist.

    Why on earth would he do this?

    Nothing about West Side Story needs to be updated – he’s not beating the script, the choreography or the on-location cinematography. Not too hard to beat Beymer and Wood in the leads, but they weren’t liabilities anyway and good luck on replacing Chakiris, Moreno or Oakland.

    Only way I see it being worthwhile is updating it to the 90s and moving it to the West Coast with black vs. Mexican gangs in Watts or Compton, with the blacks as the Jets and the Mexicans as the incoming sharks. But then you’ve got gangbangers and cholos dancing and belting out 50′s era showtunes – would have to rewrite the score.

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    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    He's going batty and not aging well.

    He's not had a good one since, War of the Worlds? Munich? We are going on 10-15 years of junk now, and his decisions of which projects to take on are becoming more questionable.
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  30. @The Millennial Falcon
    DDL has a powerful physical presence and he performs with a lot of gusto, but I've never been all that enthralled by his performances. He uniformly picks really good directors and does good work, but among his contemporaries, I've always been more impressed with Nic Cage (the opposite of DDL in terms of off-screen dignity and on-screen discipline). He's done so many turkeys and dumb actioners, that he's pretty much a punchline, but he can do anything - from bizarro Coen bros. comedy (Raising Arizona) to prestige romcom (Moonstruck) to super-serious Oscar bait (Leaving Las Vegas) to epic self-deprecation (Adaptation). I love some of his lesser known stuff too - Matchstick Men, Trapped in Paradise.

    As for Gary Oldman, yikes. Never understood the accolades. He can chew scenery and play gonzo, but his overacting always struck me as of the ordinary variety. I don't see much difference between him and his buddy Tim Roth - both capable actors who lack pathos and tend to overcompensate with theatrics. I'd throw Jason Isaacs in there too. Kenneth Branagh has a lot of those tendencies too - maybe it's the stage background.

    The best American supporting actors have consistently outshone Oldman and those other British hams. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) and Paul Giamatti of course, but also the still underrated Vincent D'Onofrio. All these guys pulled off popcorn-movie villainy as well or better than Oldman (D'Onofrio's Edgar from Men in Black probably the best of the bunch), and did much better jobs anchoring prestige pics and nailing support roles.

    And among the UK contingent, Alfred Molina is just so much more human on screen. And Sean Bean is better at the tragic villain.

    /rant

    If Daniel Day-Lewis did as many movies as Nick Cage would he turn in as many turkey performances? I doubt it. Nick Cage is talented but simply lacks taste. Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.

    Some of Cage’s eccentricities pay off. I don’t think anyone else would have thought to do the insane voice he picked for Peggy Sue Got Married, but it works. I don’t much care for Leaving Los Vegas, but there’s a scene early on where he gets fired and instead of blowing up, as I thought he would, he puts on this little boy voice and says, “I’m sorry.”

    We can discount mediocre performances and a certain number of misfires, but I can’t see accepting the performances I like (Adaptation, Valley Girl, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, Honeymoon in Vegas) and simply ignoring the mountain of turds he’s put out. On balance, I think he’s had more turds than winners.

    And by turds, I don’t mean simply annoying or unbelievable performances, but performances that take you out of the movie and make you fear for his sanity. A couple–Vampire’s Kiss, Deadfall–could qualify as “so bad they’re good,” but most are so bad they’re bad.

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    • Replies: @DWright
    Well Cage's tax problems or was it financial debt that informed his decisions on movie roles.
    , @The Millennial Falcon

    Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.
     
    I rate a willingness to embarrass yourself as a plus, at least when it produces an entertaining variety. DDL is relentlessly one note. He doesn't do anything but burning intensity and extreme method acting for high-brow projects. His presence, appearance and intensity work very well for monumental period pieces and towering inferno characters, but he's lacking in charm, humor and range.

    Cage has been in some of the worst movies ever made, but he also turned in remarkable performances in a huge range of genres. And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage - Vampire's Kiss and Deadfall you already named, but Wicker Man is on a tier all its own. But even between the legitimately good and the hilariously bad, he's shown his chops. Family Man was saccharin and mediocre, but he did a fine turn as a modern-day Jimmy Stewart in it.

    I just love that versatility - singles, doubles, homers, and a total lack of fear of striking out swinging. He's a National Treasure.
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  31. @Barnard
    OT: CNBC hack John Harwood sits down for a beer and an interview with Bill Kristol. Just one highlight:

    Harwood: You were part of a movement that changed the establishment but ultimately became what one would call the Republican establishment. Do you feel at all responsible for the creation of the conditions that produced this?

    Kristol: A little bit. It was a mistake to — I was critical of the 2013 immigration bill. The Iraq War didn't go the way I and many others hoped. It was reasonable of voters to say, "Well, gee, that didn't work out too well. There were no weapons of mass destruction."

    The 2008 financial crisis — that wasn't supposed to happen. Sarah Palin, one of my more famous failures, I guess you'd say. I thought Palin as McCain's VP would be a way to almost channel a certain kind of populism into what I would say is a healthy conservatism.
     
    The financial crisis just wasn't supposed to happen, who could have anticipated that it would have based on the policies in place? How did these dunces get to be considered elites? Perhaps neocons should move to a practice of merit based punditry and end the nepotism.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/24/speakeasy-with-john-harwood-bill-kristol-on-age-of-trump.html

    Conservative men may have gone for Palin, but liberal woman, especially Jewish women still hate her with a passion. Some of my Jewish women friends almost spat when they said her name.

    Here is why liberal women hated Palin.

    1 Pretty
    2 5 kids
    3 believing Christian
    4 against abortion
    5 hunts, gardens, outdoor girl

    One thing I’ve noticed about every environmentalist I’ve ever known, male and female, Jewish and goyim; they are the most citified sissy ignorant of the outdoors, plants, trees, wild animals etc people I know.

    Although it’s in a desert, there are plenty of redwood trees in S California. Most of the Jewish environmentalists in S California don’t know a redwood from an oak. Yet they were very active in some sort of save the redwoods movement

    Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.

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    • Replies: @Not Raul
    “Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.”

    True. I wonder why. Does he not spend much time having intimate conversations with Jewish women?
    , @Joe Stalin
    "The adamantly anti-gun-rights Jews are bowing to:
    1. A desire for utopian moral purity
    2. A disproportional incidence of hoplophobia
    3. A quest for power through victimization of peers
    4. A utopian delusion that if guns would just “go away,”
    crime would end and the world would be a peaceful safe place
    5. Self hatred and a wish to be helpless, acting out guilt-based
    behavioral problems that develop in childhood
    6. The Ostrich Syndrome
    7. Garden-variety hypocrisy
    8. Adulterated religion -- Jews In Name Only (JINOs)
    9. Feel-good sophistry
    10. Abject fear that yields irrational behavior

    http://jpfo.org/articles-assd02/why-jews-hate-guns.htm
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  32. As an Oldman fan I must warn everyone not to watch Nobody’s Baby, which is appallingly bad, an illiterate rip-off of Raising Arizona and, worst of all, only shows Gary for about ten seconds. Based on that I wondered if, when you’re a great actor, you actually prefer terrible movies where you will be worshipped to competitive ensembles where you have to deal with Dench and McKellan. His semi-autobiographical Nil By Mouth is good. He should have gotten it for Immortal Beloved and the Satanic Baptism is the only good part of Dracula.
    Re film stock I still remember and miss how, in the late eighties and early nineties, we got these ridiculously clear and sharp pictures, and then everything went to hell with irresistably cheap digital.

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  33. @Matthew McConnagay
    Another problem with Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s usual trouble with coming up with a good plot.

    You can say that again. Anderson is such a talent, it's a shame that as a writer he seems to suffer from the delusion that if a story is interesting or entertaining then it can't possible be Art.

    I enjoyed Inherent Vice - perhaps he should stick to adaptations? (Advice that Tarantino should follow, since none of his films hold up half so well as Jackie Brown.) There's no shame in being better at directing than writing.

    Agreed. Jackie Brown, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, is Tarantino’s only good film. The rest is pastiche.

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  34. @The Alarmist
    My wife has been bugging me to see that: I told her we can catch it on the plane.

    Time to buy more flowers.

    It’s funny, I probably overrate Phantom Thread because it’s so totally non-woke (thanks for that bit of shorthand, Steve). Movies like that are going to become increasingly rare in the years to come. You might want to suck it up and see it lest you be dragged to something worse.

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  35. @guest
    If Daniel Day-Lewis did as many movies as Nick Cage would he turn in as many turkey performances? I doubt it. Nick Cage is talented but simply lacks taste. Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.

    Some of Cage's eccentricities pay off. I don't think anyone else would have thought to do the insane voice he picked for Peggy Sue Got Married, but it works. I don't much care for Leaving Los Vegas, but there's a scene early on where he gets fired and instead of blowing up, as I thought he would, he puts on this little boy voice and says, "I'm sorry."

    We can discount mediocre performances and a certain number of misfires, but I can't see accepting the performances I like (Adaptation, Valley Girl, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, Honeymoon in Vegas) and simply ignoring the mountain of turds he's put out. On balance, I think he's had more turds than winners.

    And by turds, I don't mean simply annoying or unbelievable performances, but performances that take you out of the movie and make you fear for his sanity. A couple--Vampire's Kiss, Deadfall--could qualify as "so bad they're good," but most are so bad they're bad.

    Well Cage’s tax problems or was it financial debt that informed his decisions on movie roles.

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  36. PTA is a very skilled director but I find his movies always lack a certain tension or telos to take them into the realm of great films. As Steve hints at, it’s almost like he has so much sympathy with his characters that he can’t make one into a villain. There’s no tension, an effect he enhances with his annoying obsession with abstract meandering music.

    There Will Be Blood, I felt, stole attention from the much worthier film that year, No Country For Old Men. There Will Be Blood looked cool and resonated with its message about the hypocrisy of American prosperity, but NCFOM was this amazing, Kubrickesque detached exploration of absolute evil and the inevitability of fate. It was an object lesson in what makes a film timeless and classic.

    The only film of PTA’s which rises to that level is Punch Drunk Love, where its unabashed celebration of love (against an unambiguous villain in P. S. Hoffman), subordinated PTA’s freeform tastes to a classic story arc. Adam Sandler’s line at the end, cheesy out of context, is one of my favorite lines in a movie.

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    • Replies: @The Millennial Falcon
    NCFOM was fun too. Blood looked beautiful in parts, and felt important, but it wasn't fun.

    Life with the dull bits cut out and then reinserted to simulate authenticity.
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  37. @attilathehen
    "Wokeness score: Zero. The only racial diversity in it is represented by the House of Woodcock’s richest client, a Barbara Hutton-type poor little rich girl, marrying, imprudently, a Dominican playboy modeled upon Porfirio Diaz."

    Weird, Paul Anderson's real life partner is the black/Jewess Maya Rudolph and he has black/Jewish offspring with her. I've never seen anyone of his films, but have read about them. Most of them take place in America's white past, especially the 1950s. Maya Rudolph can never be the leading lady in his films. Anderson is a strange man.

    SWPL’s are obsessed w the aesthetics of past White cultures. Just look at Wes Anderson, it’s like they’re all in a timeless 1960.

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  38. @guest
    "I suppose Anderson's problem is the idea that serious should not be about larger-than-life characters"

    That sounds like more of a relativistic hang-up (if that makes any sense). Because Andersonian characters are plenty big. There Will Be Blood may have left out some interesting real-life details, but Daniel Plainview is plenty big as a character. He's a walking meme in the milkshake scene.

    Phoenix is plenty big in the Master. Adam Sandler is way the heck too big in Punch-Drunk Love. Tom Cruise is gargantuan in Magnolia. Boogie Nights, well, just the whole dang thing.

    PTA doesn't exactly do reserved costume dramas. He's not following the usual rules of seriousness, see for instance the incomprehensible prophetic rap in Magnolia, which is like something out of Twin Peaks. Or the motorcycle ride in the Master. Which felt like a troll. So much of his movies are trolling me, I feel.

    For some reason he holds back on certain eccentricities in the real-life quirks of the inspiration for his characters. The fact that serious movies are supposed to be a certain way isn't convincing to me, considered by itself.

    Sounds like you know a lot about Anderson and his movies. Do you have a theory for why the character in Phantom Thread is less flamboyant/more tightly wound (sorry) than his inspiration?

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    • Replies: @J.Ross
    A lot of Anderson's stuff can be explained as making the world safe for art and literature nerds. You might sometimes laugh at a character, but not just laugh at him.
    , @Steve Sailer
    Anderson and Day-Lewis have fathered seven kids between them. They are artistic straight guys, and this movie is about an artistic straight guy.
    , @guest
    I haven't seen Phantom Thread, so I couldn't say with any authority.

    In previous movies, Anderson left out fascinating material from the real-life inspirations for his characters I presume because it didn't fit the stories he was trying to tell. The Master, for instance, is more about a certain type of person drawn to scientology than L. Ron Hubbard himself.

    The main character of There Will Be Blood was based on (or rather was based on a book that was based on) an oil baron who had a son involved in an infamous murder-suicide. But the movie was about the conflict between the oil man and a preacher. The former has a son, but their relationship is not at the center of the story. Having the son and some other man (his lover?) wind up dead in the spooky mansion instead of the preacher would've confused things.

    Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights is obviously based on John Holmes, and the failed drug robbery depicted in the climax resembles the real-life Wonderland Murders. But this is one instance where the movie version is the more sensationalistic of the two, because Holmes was merely suspected of setting up a robbery. Dirk Diggler participates. PTA wanted to tell the story of a man who hits rock bottom by coming face-to-face with death, rather than a guy who facilitates death at arm's length.

    My guess would be that for whatever reason he simply didn't want to tell the story of a loose and flamboyant fashion designer.

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  39. I love beautiful movies (Merchant-Ivory, for example) and detest pornography, so have not been to a movie theatre for ages and avoid tv dramas like the plague. You made this one sound interesting; so I watched the trailer.

    The trailer was easy on the eyes but a horror to the ears. Why do directors insist on pitching music at the audience just when the actors are speaking their lines? It drives me bananas.

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    • Replies: @J.Ross
    I couldn't get into Inherent Vice (the plot of which looks suspiciously similar to Big Lebowski, although I think the Vice book came out first) because I refuse to listen to incomprehensible mumbling.
    , @Steve Sailer
    A lot of movies these days are made to watch at home with the closed captioning on, especially if you are over 40. For example, I missed comprehending in the theater that Woodcock's right-hand woman was his sister because I hadn't adjusted yet to the artist's soft-spokeness.
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  40. @Old fogey
    I love beautiful movies (Merchant-Ivory, for example) and detest pornography, so have not been to a movie theatre for ages and avoid tv dramas like the plague. You made this one sound interesting; so I watched the trailer.

    The trailer was easy on the eyes but a horror to the ears. Why do directors insist on pitching music at the audience just when the actors are speaking their lines? It drives me bananas.

    I couldn’t get into Inherent Vice (the plot of which looks suspiciously similar to Big Lebowski, although I think the Vice book came out first) because I refuse to listen to incomprehensible mumbling.

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  41. @Old fogey
    I love beautiful movies (Merchant-Ivory, for example) and detest pornography, so have not been to a movie theatre for ages and avoid tv dramas like the plague. You made this one sound interesting; so I watched the trailer.

    The trailer was easy on the eyes but a horror to the ears. Why do directors insist on pitching music at the audience just when the actors are speaking their lines? It drives me bananas.

    A lot of movies these days are made to watch at home with the closed captioning on, especially if you are over 40. For example, I missed comprehending in the theater that Woodcock’s right-hand woman was his sister because I hadn’t adjusted yet to the artist’s soft-spokeness.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    Brits are the worst (for Americans), especially if the actor is trying to do some regional or class accent. Sometimes I can make out a few words here and there but you miss half of them. And it's not just me. My wife will ask me "what did they just say?" and I will answer "He is said he is going to fuf fah flum" and my wife will say, "Yes, that's exactly what I heard also."
    , @guest
    Watching the Dark Knight Rises with captions is a big improvement, because it turns out the villain actually has important things to say.

    On the other hand, I didn't think it was possible but Jar-Jar Binks is an even worse character when you know what he's saying.

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  42. @Steve Sailer
    A lot of movies these days are made to watch at home with the closed captioning on, especially if you are over 40. For example, I missed comprehending in the theater that Woodcock's right-hand woman was his sister because I hadn't adjusted yet to the artist's soft-spokeness.

    Brits are the worst (for Americans), especially if the actor is trying to do some regional or class accent. Sometimes I can make out a few words here and there but you miss half of them. And it’s not just me. My wife will ask me “what did they just say?” and I will answer “He is said he is going to fuf fah flum” and my wife will say, “Yes, that’s exactly what I heard also.”

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    Glad to hear it is not only me!!

    My brother is an electrical engineer and an ace at radio. He is driven crazy by this stuff, too, pointing out that in the bad old days before they had all the new high-end sound equipment we could hear every single word spoken in each and every film, even the cheap B-movies. The sound men then made sure every word was clear.

    Onward.
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  43. “Paul Thomas Anderson’s usual trouble…”

    is that Mr.Anderson is not a good director. He’s a guy who gets a pass because of how poor the quality of film criticism/film making has generally become.

    He has an competent eye for cinematography (in the land of the blind..,) an okay ear for dialogue, a rapport with talented actors and actresses, and a well developed sense of what would make a good, interesting story; but he never knows how to combine his strengths to create something particularly interesting or, well, good.

    The guy’s skill-set would be of better use in a producing role for someone else’s movies.

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    • Disagree: Autochthon
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Before the Auteur Age, they used to have this separate job called Screenwriter. Hitchcock and Spielberg, for example, used professional screenwriters to write the screenplays for their movies for them.
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  44. @guest
    If Daniel Day-Lewis did as many movies as Nick Cage would he turn in as many turkey performances? I doubt it. Nick Cage is talented but simply lacks taste. Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.

    Some of Cage's eccentricities pay off. I don't think anyone else would have thought to do the insane voice he picked for Peggy Sue Got Married, but it works. I don't much care for Leaving Los Vegas, but there's a scene early on where he gets fired and instead of blowing up, as I thought he would, he puts on this little boy voice and says, "I'm sorry."

    We can discount mediocre performances and a certain number of misfires, but I can't see accepting the performances I like (Adaptation, Valley Girl, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, Honeymoon in Vegas) and simply ignoring the mountain of turds he's put out. On balance, I think he's had more turds than winners.

    And by turds, I don't mean simply annoying or unbelievable performances, but performances that take you out of the movie and make you fear for his sanity. A couple--Vampire's Kiss, Deadfall--could qualify as "so bad they're good," but most are so bad they're bad.

    Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.

    I rate a willingness to embarrass yourself as a plus, at least when it produces an entertaining variety. DDL is relentlessly one note. He doesn’t do anything but burning intensity and extreme method acting for high-brow projects. His presence, appearance and intensity work very well for monumental period pieces and towering inferno characters, but he’s lacking in charm, humor and range.

    Cage has been in some of the worst movies ever made, but he also turned in remarkable performances in a huge range of genres. And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage – Vampire’s Kiss and Deadfall you already named, but Wicker Man is on a tier all its own. But even between the legitimately good and the hilariously bad, he’s shown his chops. Family Man was saccharin and mediocre, but he did a fine turn as a modern-day Jimmy Stewart in it.

    I just love that versatility – singles, doubles, homers, and a total lack of fear of striking out swinging. He’s a National Treasure.

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    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    "And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage"

    Forrest Whittaker in a bad movie is a jazz musician. He'll dig into roles as if he's acting in a completely different movie all by himself like a jazz musician switches modes.

    Is he on Cage's level? No man with any self-regard is.

    But Whittaker can be quite a force for the bizarre himself in a sinking projects.
    , @guest
    Day-Lewis is anything but one-note, though I agree he lacks the variety of a Cage. He tends to do High Seriousness, intensity, and of course period pieces. But even in period pieces, there's a variety:

    In A Room with a View he's a nebbish bookworm barely attached to humanity

    In Last of the Mohicans he's a dashing action hero and romantic

    In the Age of Innocence he's a reserved and repressed man with passion bubbling underneath

    In In the Name of the Father he's a devil-may-care rebellious youth who matures into an activist-type

    In Gangs of New York he's absolutely hilarious and intense and out there with his emotions

    In There Will Be Blood he's full of wrath and hate, but keeps it mostly to himself, at least when he's putting on a business front, which is most of the time. Occasionally, it comes out. He's also very funny in this role, in my opinion.

    In Lincoln he's the consummate politician, which means he's a dissembler. Occasionally he does blow up, and he has a sense of fakey-homespun humor. Most of the movie he's sorta above it all.

    I don't know if people overlook the variety out of forgetfulness or ignorance or because the scenes where he gets all red-faced and shouts tend to stand out. But variety is there.

    And the above were only the period pieces I've seen.


    "no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage"

    That's a good thing. Occasionally the audience gets lucky. I don't agree about Wicker Man, but there was another one recently called Arsenal in which Cage lets it all hang out. He was the only interesting thing in the movie.

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  45. @The Millennial Falcon
    Why on earth would he do this?

    Nothing about West Side Story needs to be updated - he's not beating the script, the choreography or the on-location cinematography. Not too hard to beat Beymer and Wood in the leads, but they weren't liabilities anyway and good luck on replacing Chakiris, Moreno or Oakland.

    Only way I see it being worthwhile is updating it to the 90s and moving it to the West Coast with black vs. Mexican gangs in Watts or Compton, with the blacks as the Jets and the Mexicans as the incoming sharks. But then you've got gangbangers and cholos dancing and belting out 50's era showtunes - would have to rewrite the score.

    He’s going batty and not aging well.

    He’s not had a good one since, War of the Worlds? Munich? We are going on 10-15 years of junk now, and his decisions of which projects to take on are becoming more questionable.

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    • Replies: @Autochthon
    He should cash out like Lucas did.
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  46. @Antlitz Grollheim
    PTA is a very skilled director but I find his movies always lack a certain tension or telos to take them into the realm of great films. As Steve hints at, it's almost like he has so much sympathy with his characters that he can't make one into a villain. There's no tension, an effect he enhances with his annoying obsession with abstract meandering music.

    There Will Be Blood, I felt, stole attention from the much worthier film that year, No Country For Old Men. There Will Be Blood looked cool and resonated with its message about the hypocrisy of American prosperity, but NCFOM was this amazing, Kubrickesque detached exploration of absolute evil and the inevitability of fate. It was an object lesson in what makes a film timeless and classic.

    The only film of PTA's which rises to that level is Punch Drunk Love, where its unabashed celebration of love (against an unambiguous villain in P. S. Hoffman), subordinated PTA's freeform tastes to a classic story arc. Adam Sandler's line at the end, cheesy out of context, is one of my favorite lines in a movie.

    NCFOM was fun too. Blood looked beautiful in parts, and felt important, but it wasn’t fun.

    Life with the dull bits cut out and then reinserted to simulate authenticity.

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  47. @The Millennial Falcon

    Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.
     
    I rate a willingness to embarrass yourself as a plus, at least when it produces an entertaining variety. DDL is relentlessly one note. He doesn't do anything but burning intensity and extreme method acting for high-brow projects. His presence, appearance and intensity work very well for monumental period pieces and towering inferno characters, but he's lacking in charm, humor and range.

    Cage has been in some of the worst movies ever made, but he also turned in remarkable performances in a huge range of genres. And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage - Vampire's Kiss and Deadfall you already named, but Wicker Man is on a tier all its own. But even between the legitimately good and the hilariously bad, he's shown his chops. Family Man was saccharin and mediocre, but he did a fine turn as a modern-day Jimmy Stewart in it.

    I just love that versatility - singles, doubles, homers, and a total lack of fear of striking out swinging. He's a National Treasure.

    “And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage”

    Forrest Whittaker in a bad movie is a jazz musician. He’ll dig into roles as if he’s acting in a completely different movie all by himself like a jazz musician switches modes.

    Is he on Cage’s level? No man with any self-regard is.

    But Whittaker can be quite a force for the bizarre himself in a sinking projects.

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  48. Am I the only one who saw the trailer for Lincoln and thought it was Billy Bob Thornton playing Lincoln? Even as I saw the movie, I seriously wondered if Thornton had had previous commitment(s) and they told Day-Lewis “Do this just the way Thornton would, aaaaand ‘Action!’” .

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  49. @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    "Paul Thomas Anderson’s usual trouble..."

    is that Mr.Anderson is not a good director. He's a guy who gets a pass because of how poor the quality of film criticism/film making has generally become.

    He has an competent eye for cinematography (in the land of the blind..,) an okay ear for dialogue, a rapport with talented actors and actresses, and a well developed sense of what would make a good, interesting story; but he never knows how to combine his strengths to create something particularly interesting or, well, good.

    The guy's skill-set would be of better use in a producing role for someone else's movies.

    Before the Auteur Age, they used to have this separate job called Screenwriter. Hitchcock and Spielberg, for example, used professional screenwriters to write the screenplays for their movies for them.

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    • Replies: @The Millennial Falcon
    I forget where I heard the anecdote of the angry screenwriter who, upon hearing Capra pontificating on the "Capra touch" to reporters, sent him a blank script, with a note to the effect of, "Frank. Let's see you put the Capra touch on this."
    , @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    They also understood what they were pointing their cameras at or, how to marry intent with their talents or; at the very least, how to combine their respective strengths into an artful whole.

    Come'on Mr.Sailer, conjuring up the men of cinema's past...woulda, coulda, shoulda.

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  50. @Steve Sailer
    Before the Auteur Age, they used to have this separate job called Screenwriter. Hitchcock and Spielberg, for example, used professional screenwriters to write the screenplays for their movies for them.

    I forget where I heard the anecdote of the angry screenwriter who, upon hearing Capra pontificating on the “Capra touch” to reporters, sent him a blank script, with a note to the effect of, “Frank. Let’s see you put the Capra touch on this.”

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  51. Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    ... was anyone?
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  52. @Stan Adams
    Somewhat OT:

    Don't look for Casey Affleck on the red carpet this year:
    http://deadline.com/2018/01/casey-affleck-academy-awards-withdrawal-best-actress-me-too-movement-controversy-1202269196/

    … was anyone?

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    • Replies: @Stan Adams
    I never watch the Oscars, but I do find it amusing to watch Hollywood eat its own.
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  53. @keypusher
    Sounds like you know a lot about Anderson and his movies. Do you have a theory for why the character in Phantom Thread is less flamboyant/more tightly wound (sorry) than his inspiration?

    A lot of Anderson’s stuff can be explained as making the world safe for art and literature nerds. You might sometimes laugh at a character, but not just laugh at him.

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  54. @Steve Sailer
    Before the Auteur Age, they used to have this separate job called Screenwriter. Hitchcock and Spielberg, for example, used professional screenwriters to write the screenplays for their movies for them.

    They also understood what they were pointing their cameras at or, how to marry intent with their talents or; at the very least, how to combine their respective strengths into an artful whole.

    Come’on Mr.Sailer, conjuring up the men of cinema’s past…woulda, coulda, shoulda.

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  55. @Alden
    Conservative men may have gone for Palin, but liberal woman, especially Jewish women still hate her with a passion. Some of my Jewish women friends almost spat when they said her name.

    Here is why liberal women hated Palin.

    1 Pretty
    2 5 kids
    3 believing Christian
    4 against abortion
    5 hunts, gardens, outdoor girl

    One thing I’ve noticed about every environmentalist I’ve ever known, male and female, Jewish and goyim; they are the most citified sissy ignorant of the outdoors, plants, trees, wild animals etc people I know.

    Although it’s in a desert, there are plenty of redwood trees in S California. Most of the Jewish environmentalists in S California don’t know a redwood from an oak. Yet they were very active in some sort of save the redwoods movement

    Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.

    “Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.”

    True. I wonder why. Does he not spend much time having intimate conversations with Jewish women?

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  56. I have no idea whether all the stories about Daniel Day Lewis being such an extreme method actor are true or merely extremely good PR by an actor with really good chops but whose desire is to win awards and spread a legend and not be in a lot of movies, . The stories sound so cliche and extreme, especially the “wants to quit acting to pursue cobbling” story and this fake retirement story.

    He’s great either way. Bill the Butcher is one of the top three iconic, cinematic villains of all time, right next to the Wicked Witch of the West and Darth Vader. In my opinion, he’s scarier than Hannibal Lector.

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  57. @J.Ross
    ... was anyone?

    I never watch the Oscars, but I do find it amusing to watch Hollywood eat its own.

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  58. @Alden
    Conservative men may have gone for Palin, but liberal woman, especially Jewish women still hate her with a passion. Some of my Jewish women friends almost spat when they said her name.

    Here is why liberal women hated Palin.

    1 Pretty
    2 5 kids
    3 believing Christian
    4 against abortion
    5 hunts, gardens, outdoor girl

    One thing I’ve noticed about every environmentalist I’ve ever known, male and female, Jewish and goyim; they are the most citified sissy ignorant of the outdoors, plants, trees, wild animals etc people I know.

    Although it’s in a desert, there are plenty of redwood trees in S California. Most of the Jewish environmentalists in S California don’t know a redwood from an oak. Yet they were very active in some sort of save the redwoods movement

    Kristol sure didn’t know how Jewish women would react to Palin.

    “The adamantly anti-gun-rights Jews are bowing to:
    1. A desire for utopian moral purity
    2. A disproportional incidence of hoplophobia
    3. A quest for power through victimization of peers
    4. A utopian delusion that if guns would just “go away,”
    crime would end and the world would be a peaceful safe place
    5. Self hatred and a wish to be helpless, acting out guilt-based
    behavioral problems that develop in childhood
    6. The Ostrich Syndrome
    7. Garden-variety hypocrisy
    8. Adulterated religion — Jews In Name Only (JINOs)
    9. Feel-good sophistry
    10. Abject fear that yields irrational behavior

    http://jpfo.org/articles-assd02/why-jews-hate-guns.htm

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  59. Daniel Day-Lewis looks a bit like Jordan Peterson

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Indeed.
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  60. @Anonymous
    Daniel Day-Lewis looks a bit like Jordan Peterson

    Indeed.

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  61. @Jack D
    Brits are the worst (for Americans), especially if the actor is trying to do some regional or class accent. Sometimes I can make out a few words here and there but you miss half of them. And it's not just me. My wife will ask me "what did they just say?" and I will answer "He is said he is going to fuf fah flum" and my wife will say, "Yes, that's exactly what I heard also."

    Glad to hear it is not only me!!

    My brother is an electrical engineer and an ace at radio. He is driven crazy by this stuff, too, pointing out that in the bad old days before they had all the new high-end sound equipment we could hear every single word spoken in each and every film, even the cheap B-movies. The sound men then made sure every word was clear.

    Onward.

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    • Replies: @Stan Adams
    In the bad old days, if you didn't see a movie in the theater, you didn't see it all. If you didn't understand an actor's whisper, then you never got another chance to hear it. Most folks saw any given film once and only once.

    The VCR was a revolution - a paradigm shift. For the first time, Moe Schlump could sit in front of a TV and watch a flick ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred times. Also, he could watch selected scenes - he could fast-forward to the acid trip in 2001 and watch it over and over and over again.

    The next big paradigm shift was not the DVD player (an evolutionary advance) but the mainstreaming of broadband Internet access.

    Movie buffs of the '40s or even the early '70s would have killed to have access to '80s technology. And movie buffs of the '80s would have killed to have access to what we have now.

    (Somehow, I doubt that today's movie buffs are all that deprived compared to the movie buffs of thirty years hence. It's hard to believe that there's anything coming down the pike that will make what we have now seem as inadequate as a VCR seems today.)

    I remember the first time I tried to tape something on a VCR. I was in middle school at the time. (I ended up taping the wrong show - a Spanish soap opera - because the VCR was tuned to a channel other than the one I was watching.)

    I'm too young to remember most of the big advancements in consumer electronics, but I do understand the significance of the rapid advancements in personal computers.

    I'm old enough to remember the first time I used a Web browser. Even then, I knew that I was looking at something big. (By that time, I had already been using Prodigy for a number of years, but it was obvious that the Web was a great leap forward.)

    Somewhere I have a picture of me sitting at my mother's XT when I was not quite four years old. This was in the latter half of the '80s.

    I remember the first time that playing a computer game made me feel as if I was stepping into a new world. (This would have been when I was maybe five or six years old.) It was a primitive graphical adventure game for the Apple II - maybe one of the early Sierra games.

    By "early Sierra games," I mean something like Time Zone (1982), with no animation - only a drawing, a room description, and a two-word text parser. This screen in particular looks very familiar:
    http://www.wurb.com/stack/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/time_zone-surprise-1.png

    The game that I played had a house in the middle of a field. I remember exploring the woods surrounding the house.

    (I've gone to great lengths to track down the names of games that I half-remember from my early years of elementary school, and I've found more of them than I've expected.)

    What really grabbed me, in retrospect, was the control that I had over the environment. I could go anywhere I wanted to go, and do anything that I wanted to do. To a kid, having a taste of that kind of freedom is a heady thrill.

    I remember being disappointed that the virtual world had a boundary - that it did not go on forever. I remember wishing that I could find other worlds to explore.

    I remember the day I got my NES, the day I got my Genesis, the day I got my own PC (my mother's 386 - she was moving up to a 486), the day my mother upgraded our Internet account to broadband.

    For each of my spergy hobbies and obsessions, I can remember the day that changed everything.

    This is embarrassing to admit, but it was being dragged by a friend to Star Trek: First Contact on opening night that triggered my geeky Trekker phase. I walked into the theater a skeptic and walked out a fan.

    It took me the better part of a decade to watch all of the episodes. I read and memorized every Trek episode guide that I could find, but in the '90s the only (legitimate) source for the shows themselves was Paramount's line of overpriced VHS tapes. Even if I could have found a store that sold the tapes - and I couldn't - I couldn't have begun to afford them.

    In a cruel twist, I lived in an area where TNG reruns ended in late 1996, only a few weeks after First Contact came out. The only Trek shows on local TV were the weekly episodes of Voyager and DS9 on Wednesday nights, with reruns of those series in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

    In the late '90s and into the early 2000s, TNG was still in syndication and was broadcast nightly on one station or another in nearly every American city. Miami was one of the very few markets where it was not available.

    Taunted by reading TV listings of stations I could not watch, I made vain efforts to pick up signals from West Palm Beach. (Occasionally, after much contorting of rabbit ears, I did succeed in picking up a nearly-unwatchable signal, but I never managed to get the station that showed TNG.)

    At one point, I tried to persuade my mother to invest in a heavy-duty outdoor antenna that could pick up signals from hundreds of miles away. She balked, already having splurged for DirecTV at the behest of her (short-lived) live-in boyfriend.

    (At the time, DirecTV did not offer local channels. We had an ... illicit cable hookup that enabled us to get the network affiliates with decent reception.)

    The Sci-Fi Channel started showing TOS in the fall of ... '98, I think. So, slowly but surely, I was able to catch up on the adventures of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

    But it was not until shortly after 9/11, when TNN - the old Nashville Network turned National Network, later called Spike TV - began showing TNG that I got a chance to begin catching up on that series. I was in college by that time, and my interest in Trek had waned, but it was still a big deal.

    I remember the first time I used the Google search engine (in 1998, when it was still in beta) and the first time I used YouTube (in 2006). Both times, I knew I was seeing something big.

    I'm among the youngest folks alive who truly understand what a big deal the Internet has been.

    Having said "I remember..." so many times, I was tempted to throw in an "Most of all, I remember ... Mama" reference. But Mama is pretty obscure:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mama_(TV_series)

    Saturday Night Live once did a "Mommie Dearest Christmas" sketch (based on the book, not the movie) that parodied the famous narration:
    http://snltranscripts.jt.org/78/78imommy.phtml

    (Years ago, there were tons of early SNL sketches on YouTube. They're all long gone now.)

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  62. The fictional Reynolds Woodcock was modeled after Balenciaga….right down to the extreme perfectionism. Balenciaga was extraordinary. I watched the film in early December with my college son who could not give a rat’s ass about fashion…however, he was completely mesmerized by this strange, hypnotic film. It is a truly great movie to expose the extreme obsessions of creative people – one becomes a kind of voyeur, wondering how things are going to turn out for Reynolds. He is the strangest guy anyone would actually root for, particularly manly men, or even Beta males, the kind Whiskey always mentions.

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  63. @joeyjoejoe
    "He’s famous for method acting commitments that sound like parody — e.g., wearing nothing but deerskin clothes and carrying his flintlock musket everywhere offset for months while making Last of the Mohicans."

    I've shared this anecdote here before, but its appropos for this comment.

    When I was in the army, I was assigned (as a major) to inspect a unit in the field. This involved walking from position to position and visiting/observing different soldiers all day long. I was carrying a rifle, and at the beginning of the two week exercise, I decided to always literally carry it (gripped in my hand), rather than sling it over my shoulder (where its out of the way, and I would have both hands free)-my thought being that a shouldered weapon appears very casual, and it was my job, as an outside inspector, to appear 'ready' or professional (imagine a movie scene where soldiers are carrying their weapons in their hands. Now imagine those weapons slung over their shoulders. Completely different image/presumption of 'readiness').

    After a few days of doing this, I suddenly realized that I had misplaced my weapon-which in the military, is probably the worst non-crime one could commit: entire bases are closed, field exercises are cancelled in order to conduct a mass search, and careers are humiliatingly ended over such.

    After a few seconds of panic, I realized that the weapon was actually gripped in my hand, where it had been for the last three days or so. I had gotten used to the weight, and feel, and the act of gripping so completely that the weapon's presence was entirely unconscious.

    joe

    I’ve done this during lengthy preparations for especially important ceremonies in an honour guard. Blanks and outdated rifles, though, so less panic about safety, but the same panic about humiliation….

    The best insight and explanation I’ve ever encountered about method-acting, though: bravo zulu.

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  64. @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    He's going batty and not aging well.

    He's not had a good one since, War of the Worlds? Munich? We are going on 10-15 years of junk now, and his decisions of which projects to take on are becoming more questionable.

    He should cash out like Lucas did.

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  65. @The Millennial Falcon

    Part of being a great actor is picking good material and good directors or, if you lack those, not going totally nuts and embarrassing yourself.
     
    I rate a willingness to embarrass yourself as a plus, at least when it produces an entertaining variety. DDL is relentlessly one note. He doesn't do anything but burning intensity and extreme method acting for high-brow projects. His presence, appearance and intensity work very well for monumental period pieces and towering inferno characters, but he's lacking in charm, humor and range.

    Cage has been in some of the worst movies ever made, but he also turned in remarkable performances in a huge range of genres. And no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage - Vampire's Kiss and Deadfall you already named, but Wicker Man is on a tier all its own. But even between the legitimately good and the hilariously bad, he's shown his chops. Family Man was saccharin and mediocre, but he did a fine turn as a modern-day Jimmy Stewart in it.

    I just love that versatility - singles, doubles, homers, and a total lack of fear of striking out swinging. He's a National Treasure.

    Day-Lewis is anything but one-note, though I agree he lacks the variety of a Cage. He tends to do High Seriousness, intensity, and of course period pieces. But even in period pieces, there’s a variety:

    In A Room with a View he’s a nebbish bookworm barely attached to humanity

    In Last of the Mohicans he’s a dashing action hero and romantic

    In the Age of Innocence he’s a reserved and repressed man with passion bubbling underneath

    In In the Name of the Father he’s a devil-may-care rebellious youth who matures into an activist-type

    In Gangs of New York he’s absolutely hilarious and intense and out there with his emotions

    In There Will Be Blood he’s full of wrath and hate, but keeps it mostly to himself, at least when he’s putting on a business front, which is most of the time. Occasionally, it comes out. He’s also very funny in this role, in my opinion.

    In Lincoln he’s the consummate politician, which means he’s a dissembler. Occasionally he does blow up, and he has a sense of fakey-homespun humor. Most of the movie he’s sorta above it all.

    I don’t know if people overlook the variety out of forgetfulness or ignorance or because the scenes where he gets all red-faced and shouts tend to stand out. But variety is there.

    And the above were only the period pieces I’ve seen.

    “no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage”

    That’s a good thing. Occasionally the audience gets lucky. I don’t agree about Wicker Man, but there was another one recently called Arsenal in which Cage lets it all hang out. He was the only interesting thing in the movie.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Nicholas Cage really, really likes spending money (he's a Coppola, after all) so he accepts more roles than he should. Plus he's super-experimental for an actor who wants to make a lot of money, which is an odd combo. (You don't see, say, Mark Wahlberg deciding to play a lead role in the voice of Gumby's horse friend.)

    But he's come up with some amazing line readings over the years.

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  66. @guest
    Day-Lewis is anything but one-note, though I agree he lacks the variety of a Cage. He tends to do High Seriousness, intensity, and of course period pieces. But even in period pieces, there's a variety:

    In A Room with a View he's a nebbish bookworm barely attached to humanity

    In Last of the Mohicans he's a dashing action hero and romantic

    In the Age of Innocence he's a reserved and repressed man with passion bubbling underneath

    In In the Name of the Father he's a devil-may-care rebellious youth who matures into an activist-type

    In Gangs of New York he's absolutely hilarious and intense and out there with his emotions

    In There Will Be Blood he's full of wrath and hate, but keeps it mostly to himself, at least when he's putting on a business front, which is most of the time. Occasionally, it comes out. He's also very funny in this role, in my opinion.

    In Lincoln he's the consummate politician, which means he's a dissembler. Occasionally he does blow up, and he has a sense of fakey-homespun humor. Most of the movie he's sorta above it all.

    I don't know if people overlook the variety out of forgetfulness or ignorance or because the scenes where he gets all red-faced and shouts tend to stand out. But variety is there.

    And the above were only the period pieces I've seen.


    "no one leans into a trainwreck like Cage"

    That's a good thing. Occasionally the audience gets lucky. I don't agree about Wicker Man, but there was another one recently called Arsenal in which Cage lets it all hang out. He was the only interesting thing in the movie.

    Nicholas Cage really, really likes spending money (he’s a Coppola, after all) so he accepts more roles than he should. Plus he’s super-experimental for an actor who wants to make a lot of money, which is an odd combo. (You don’t see, say, Mark Wahlberg deciding to play a lead role in the voice of Gumby’s horse friend.)

    But he’s come up with some amazing line readings over the years.

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  67. @keypusher
    Sounds like you know a lot about Anderson and his movies. Do you have a theory for why the character in Phantom Thread is less flamboyant/more tightly wound (sorry) than his inspiration?

    Anderson and Day-Lewis have fathered seven kids between them. They are artistic straight guys, and this movie is about an artistic straight guy.

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    • Replies: @Lagertha
    Balenciaga was like, the fictional Woodcuck ( said that earlier) , private about his inclinations (like all of us), especially, if you were designing women's haute' couture (for millionaires & royals) in the 40's leading into the 50's - important time line. Agree that obsessive males who are really good at their craft should not be presented, labeled as gay, instantly.

    I am as tired of that crap as you are. This should be a mantra against Democrats: stop labeling people! Ralph Lauren is their Mount Everest for this labeling...or their bottom of the Grand Canyon. Hmmm? who did Ralph vote for? Who buys his stuff?, and who does he want to buy his stuff? - easy! - Americans!!!

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  68. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @attilathehen
    "Wokeness score: Zero. The only racial diversity in it is represented by the House of Woodcock’s richest client, a Barbara Hutton-type poor little rich girl, marrying, imprudently, a Dominican playboy modeled upon Porfirio Diaz."

    Weird, Paul Anderson's real life partner is the black/Jewess Maya Rudolph and he has black/Jewish offspring with her. I've never seen anyone of his films, but have read about them. Most of them take place in America's white past, especially the 1950s. Maya Rudolph can never be the leading lady in his films. Anderson is a strange man.

    Weird, Paul Anderson’s real life partner is the black/Jewess Maya Rudolph and he has black/Jewish offspring with her. I’ve never seen anyone of his films, but have read about them. Most of them take place in America’s white past, especially the 1950s. Maya Rudolph can never be the leading lady in his films. Anderson is a strange man.

    I’m surprised no one (especially Steve) has contrasted Paul Thomas Anderson with Paul W.S. Anderson in this regard, given the latter’s fondness for casting his own muse/wife/mother-of-his-children, the very white Milla Jovovich, in cheerfully low-brow futuristic actioners.

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  69. OT
    Something’s Coming! Steven Spielberg‘s long gestating remake of iconic musical West Side Story releases casting call for leads
    25 January 2018
    The script is being written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, 61, who is the 71-year-old director’s frequent collaborator.
    Steven has also recruited the producer of the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, Kevin McCollum, 55, as a producer for his movie.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5313763/Steven-Spielberg-remake-iconic-musical-West-Story.html

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    There are a number of good musicals that don't have good movie versions, such as Guys and Dolls and South Pacific. In contrast, the existing movie of West Side Story is quite adequate, so I don't see much reason to make another one.
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  70. @Clyde
    OT
    Something's Coming! Steven Spielberg's long gestating remake of iconic musical West Side Story releases casting call for leads
    25 January 2018
    The script is being written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, 61, who is the 71-year-old director's frequent collaborator.
    Steven has also recruited the producer of the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, Kevin McCollum, 55, as a producer for his movie.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5313763/Steven-Spielberg-remake-iconic-musical-West-Story.html

    There are a number of good musicals that don’t have good movie versions, such as Guys and Dolls and South Pacific. In contrast, the existing movie of West Side Story is quite adequate, so I don’t see much reason to make another one.

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    • Replies: @Clyde
    Since West Side Story came out in 1961 I would say Steven Spielberg has a good chance making an updated version that will succeed on today's terms for new generations that never saw the original. If he spins it right it can have huge sales in Asia because WST is the old familiar culture crossing story of the star crossed lovers. Lots of potential in China, India, Asia, the planet. My take at least. And Spielberg is a pro at international marketing. Same for his organization.
    But it might be more interesting set in LA, rather than in NYC.
    , @Jack D
    Regarding South Pacific and West Side Story I would say the exact opposite. West Side Story comes off as very dated with a very unrealistic portrayal of Puerto Ricans and gang culture - Natalie Wood wins the award for the least Puerto Rican looking brunette in Hollywood. South Pacific in comparison holds up fairly well and is not as groan producing, at least to me.

    There was, BTW, a made for TV remake of South Pacific starring Glen Close:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0242898/

    It seems to have disappeared without a trace - I never see it in reruns. There is a bad copy of it on youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tci0OPd7RbU

    By 2001 "Happy Talk" was too un-PC and had to be cut. God knows what they would have to cut today and they'd have to make 1/2 the sailors black, etc.
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  71. @Steve Sailer
    There are a number of good musicals that don't have good movie versions, such as Guys and Dolls and South Pacific. In contrast, the existing movie of West Side Story is quite adequate, so I don't see much reason to make another one.

    Since West Side Story came out in 1961 I would say Steven Spielberg has a good chance making an updated version that will succeed on today’s terms for new generations that never saw the original. If he spins it right it can have huge sales in Asia because WST is the old familiar culture crossing story of the star crossed lovers. Lots of potential in China, India, Asia, the planet. My take at least. And Spielberg is a pro at international marketing. Same for his organization.
    But it might be more interesting set in LA, rather than in NYC.

    Read More
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  72. @Old fogey
    Glad to hear it is not only me!!

    My brother is an electrical engineer and an ace at radio. He is driven crazy by this stuff, too, pointing out that in the bad old days before they had all the new high-end sound equipment we could hear every single word spoken in each and every film, even the cheap B-movies. The sound men then made sure every word was clear.

    Onward.

    In the bad old days, if you didn’t see a movie in the theater, you didn’t see it all. If you didn’t understand an actor’s whisper, then you never got another chance to hear it. Most folks saw any given film once and only once.

    The VCR was a revolution – a paradigm shift. For the first time, Moe Schlump could sit in front of a TV and watch a flick ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred times. Also, he could watch selected scenes – he could fast-forward to the acid trip in 2001 and watch it over and over and over again.

    The next big paradigm shift was not the DVD player (an evolutionary advance) but the mainstreaming of broadband Internet access.

    Movie buffs of the ’40s or even the early ’70s would have killed to have access to ’80s technology. And movie buffs of the ’80s would have killed to have access to what we have now.

    (Somehow, I doubt that today’s movie buffs are all that deprived compared to the movie buffs of thirty years hence. It’s hard to believe that there’s anything coming down the pike that will make what we have now seem as inadequate as a VCR seems today.)

    I remember the first time I tried to tape something on a VCR. I was in middle school at the time. (I ended up taping the wrong show – a Spanish soap opera – because the VCR was tuned to a channel other than the one I was watching.)

    I’m too young to remember most of the big advancements in consumer electronics, but I do understand the significance of the rapid advancements in personal computers.

    I’m old enough to remember the first time I used a Web browser. Even then, I knew that I was looking at something big. (By that time, I had already been using Prodigy for a number of years, but it was obvious that the Web was a great leap forward.)

    Somewhere I have a picture of me sitting at my mother’s XT when I was not quite four years old. This was in the latter half of the ’80s.

    I remember the first time that playing a computer game made me feel as if I was stepping into a new world. (This would have been when I was maybe five or six years old.) It was a primitive graphical adventure game for the Apple II – maybe one of the early Sierra games.

    By “early Sierra games,” I mean something like Time Zone (1982), with no animation – only a drawing, a room description, and a two-word text parser. This screen in particular looks very familiar:
    The game that I played had a house in the middle of a field. I remember exploring the woods surrounding the house.

    (I’ve gone to great lengths to track down the names of games that I half-remember from my early years of elementary school, and I’ve found more of them than I’ve expected.)

    What really grabbed me, in retrospect, was the control that I had over the environment. I could go anywhere I wanted to go, and do anything that I wanted to do. To a kid, having a taste of that kind of freedom is a heady thrill.

    I remember being disappointed that the virtual world had a boundary – that it did not go on forever. I remember wishing that I could find other worlds to explore.

    I remember the day I got my NES, the day I got my Genesis, the day I got my own PC (my mother’s 386 – she was moving up to a 486), the day my mother upgraded our Internet account to broadband.

    For each of my spergy hobbies and obsessions, I can remember the day that changed everything.

    This is embarrassing to admit, but it was being dragged by a friend to Star Trek: First Contact on opening night that triggered my geeky Trekker phase. I walked into the theater a skeptic and walked out a fan.

    It took me the better part of a decade to watch all of the episodes. I read and memorized every Trek episode guide that I could find, but in the ’90s the only (legitimate) source for the shows themselves was Paramount’s line of overpriced VHS tapes. Even if I could have found a store that sold the tapes – and I couldn’t – I couldn’t have begun to afford them.

    In a cruel twist, I lived in an area where TNG reruns ended in late 1996, only a few weeks after First Contact came out. The only Trek shows on local TV were the weekly episodes of Voyager and DS9 on Wednesday nights, with reruns of those series in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

    In the late ’90s and into the early 2000s, TNG was still in syndication and was broadcast nightly on one station or another in nearly every American city. Miami was one of the very few markets where it was not available.

    Taunted by reading TV listings of stations I could not watch, I made vain efforts to pick up signals from West Palm Beach. (Occasionally, after much contorting of rabbit ears, I did succeed in picking up a nearly-unwatchable signal, but I never managed to get the station that showed TNG.)

    At one point, I tried to persuade my mother to invest in a heavy-duty outdoor antenna that could pick up signals from hundreds of miles away. She balked, already having splurged for DirecTV at the behest of her (short-lived) live-in boyfriend.

    (At the time, DirecTV did not offer local channels. We had an … illicit cable hookup that enabled us to get the network affiliates with decent reception.)

    The Sci-Fi Channel started showing TOS in the fall of … ’98, I think. So, slowly but surely, I was able to catch up on the adventures of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

    But it was not until shortly after 9/11, when TNN – the old Nashville Network turned National Network, later called Spike TV – began showing TNG that I got a chance to begin catching up on that series. I was in college by that time, and my interest in Trek had waned, but it was still a big deal.

    I remember the first time I used the Google search engine (in 1998, when it was still in beta) and the first time I used YouTube (in 2006). Both times, I knew I was seeing something big.

    I’m among the youngest folks alive who truly understand what a big deal the Internet has been.

    Having said “I remember…” so many times, I was tempted to throw in an “Most of all, I remember … Mama” reference. But Mama is pretty obscure:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mama_(TV_series)

    Saturday Night Live once did a “Mommie Dearest Christmas” sketch (based on the book, not the movie) that parodied the famous narration:

    http://snltranscripts.jt.org/78/78imommy.phtml

    (Years ago, there were tons of early SNL sketches on YouTube. They’re all long gone now.)

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  73. @keypusher
    Sounds like you know a lot about Anderson and his movies. Do you have a theory for why the character in Phantom Thread is less flamboyant/more tightly wound (sorry) than his inspiration?

    I haven’t seen Phantom Thread, so I couldn’t say with any authority.

    In previous movies, Anderson left out fascinating material from the real-life inspirations for his characters I presume because it didn’t fit the stories he was trying to tell. The Master, for instance, is more about a certain type of person drawn to scientology than L. Ron Hubbard himself.

    The main character of There Will Be Blood was based on (or rather was based on a book that was based on) an oil baron who had a son involved in an infamous murder-suicide. But the movie was about the conflict between the oil man and a preacher. The former has a son, but their relationship is not at the center of the story. Having the son and some other man (his lover?) wind up dead in the spooky mansion instead of the preacher would’ve confused things.

    Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights is obviously based on John Holmes, and the failed drug robbery depicted in the climax resembles the real-life Wonderland Murders. But this is one instance where the movie version is the more sensationalistic of the two, because Holmes was merely suspected of setting up a robbery. Dirk Diggler participates. PTA wanted to tell the story of a man who hits rock bottom by coming face-to-face with death, rather than a guy who facilitates death at arm’s length.

    My guess would be that for whatever reason he simply didn’t want to tell the story of a loose and flamboyant fashion designer.

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  74. @Steve Sailer
    A lot of movies these days are made to watch at home with the closed captioning on, especially if you are over 40. For example, I missed comprehending in the theater that Woodcock's right-hand woman was his sister because I hadn't adjusted yet to the artist's soft-spokeness.

    Watching the Dark Knight Rises with captions is a big improvement, because it turns out the villain actually has important things to say.

    On the other hand, I didn’t think it was possible but Jar-Jar Binks is an even worse character when you know what he’s saying.

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  75. A gay guy I knew once started ranting about the unbearable straightness of The Bold and the Beautiful.

    Here you have a soap opera set in the fashion industry in Los Angeles … and, for many years, no one on the show was gay. (Supposedly that omission has since been rectified. Pun intended.)

    B&B is popular in many countries, including areas of the world where the “enlightened” views of American SJWs are not widespread among the television-watching populace.

    Not long after Bush the Son took office, in that hazy period before 9/11, B&B started simulcasting in Spanish in SAP (a secondary audio channel available on all modern TVs). The show’s producers announced that they were going to make a big push to increase the show’s popularity among Hispanics.

    With much fanfare, the producers introduced a new Latin character – Tony, a (hetero) fashion designer – and his family. They stressed that this was a permanent change, that Tony and his extended family would eventually become part of the “core fabric” of the show.

    In short order, Tony fell in love with and proposed to Kristin, the daughter of his boss’s biggest rival. Their future looked bright.

    Then tragedy struck: Tony was diagnosed with AIDS. (He got it not from a man, but from an old girlfriend.) The engagement was threatened. But then, in a heart-rending scene, Kristin agreed to marry him. He started taking a daily AIDS cocktail to prolong his life. Everyone lived happily ever after.

    I am not making this up:

    http://theboldandthebeautiful.wikia.com/wiki/Antonio_Dominguez

    The hoped-for ratings spike never materialized. After a few months, Tony and Kristin were quietly dumped on the back burner. The “core fabric” of the show remained unchanged. But the SAP simulcast continued.

    Even today, my mother occasionally calls me in the middle of the day, asking me how to turn off the SAP feature so she can watch her soaps in English.. (Why or how SAP gets turned on in the first place, no one knows.)

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  76. @Steve Sailer
    There are a number of good musicals that don't have good movie versions, such as Guys and Dolls and South Pacific. In contrast, the existing movie of West Side Story is quite adequate, so I don't see much reason to make another one.

    Regarding South Pacific and West Side Story I would say the exact opposite. West Side Story comes off as very dated with a very unrealistic portrayal of Puerto Ricans and gang culture – Natalie Wood wins the award for the least Puerto Rican looking brunette in Hollywood. South Pacific in comparison holds up fairly well and is not as groan producing, at least to me.

    There was, BTW, a made for TV remake of South Pacific starring Glen Close:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0242898/

    It seems to have disappeared without a trace – I never see it in reruns. There is a bad copy of it on youtube:

    By 2001 “Happy Talk” was too un-PC and had to be cut. God knows what they would have to cut today and they’d have to make 1/2 the sailors black, etc.

    Read More
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  77. @Steve Sailer
    Anderson and Day-Lewis have fathered seven kids between them. They are artistic straight guys, and this movie is about an artistic straight guy.

    Balenciaga was like, the fictional Woodcuck ( said that earlier) , private about his inclinations (like all of us), especially, if you were designing women’s haute’ couture (for millionaires & royals) in the 40′s leading into the 50′s – important time line. Agree that obsessive males who are really good at their craft should not be presented, labeled as gay, instantly.

    I am as tired of that crap as you are. This should be a mantra against Democrats: stop labeling people! Ralph Lauren is their Mount Everest for this labeling…or their bottom of the Grand Canyon. Hmmm? who did Ralph vote for? Who buys his stuff?, and who does he want to buy his stuff? – easy! – Americans!!!

    Read More
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  78. I always enjoy Steve’s take on the flix…considering that he is the blogginist blogger bloggin’ I wonder where he gets the time….. Nonetheless, I wonder why he has not not said anything about the fact that two of the best films of the .year celebrate the Brits heroic defense of their Homeland while at present they do not seem to be able to turn their nation over to the Mohammeden hoardes quick enough…

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