It’s kind of a slow movie news day, but we do have some items that all have a sort of poignant yet upbeat feeling to them with a united theme of love and death: perhaps the things in the world that give life its meaning.
UPDATE: CHUD-man Devin Faraci has more, as it turns out. I wasn’t even sure he lived out here. (The bar at the Yarrow, located conveniently to where most of the press screenings are, is probably my fondest memory of my one hectic Sundance. Good beer, yes, but I practically lived on their cheeseburgers and coffee.)
* Roger Ebert‘s further reflections on the moving Esquire piece from earlier in the week. Nice to know he might not be “dying in increments” any more than you and I might be.
* RIP Kathyrn Grayson. Her operatic voice makes her singing something of an acquired taste for non-opera lovers like myself, but Ms. Grayson made it a taste worth acquiring with solid acting chops and a darned amazing voice in countless MGM musicals. Unfortunately, the gods of YouTube aren’t providing anything usable from her best and sexiest film, 1953’s “Kiss Me Kate.” Instead I found this fascinating moment from the patriotic 1943 wartime propaganda musical, “Thousands Cheer.” This is probably not Pat Buchanan‘s favorite movie moment, but it’s the kind of patriotism I have no problem supporting.
She was charming, she was graceful, she had the voice of an angel, and—not too put too fine a point on it or come off as loutish or anything—she was supes hot, in a way that still retains its impact for contemporary sensibilities.
So, while I was procrastinating conducting in-depth research for this post, covering a promotional screening for the rather glorious “Inglourious Basterds,” I found myself going over numerous reviews and think pieces. One piece for a very respectable and staid looking website started out normally enough but, while praising “Pulp Fiction” and other older films in the Quentin Tarantino catalogue, it quickly became unusually vicious. Tarantino is a filmmaker who has a special gift for generating a certain degree of critical anger, the cinephile hubbub kicked up by critic and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum over the film’s non-portrayal of the Holocaust being one prominent example, but this was different.
As I noted the attention this particular review seemed to be paying to the ancestry of the cast, crew, and characters, I realized that the hate was not over anything so conventional as concerns that “Basterds” might be trivializing the Holocaust or World War II. I was reading a “white nationalist” web site. Yes, even more than some overly sensitive liberals, Nazis hate “Inglourious Basterds.” Considering it’s a movie in which a bunch of Jews, a part Cherokee good ol’ boy lieutenant, an African-French projectionist, a traitorous movie star, and a few odd others defeat the Third Reich in a painful and fiery manner, displeasing Nazis is kind of the whole idea.
Certainly, no one was feeling conciliatory towards facists or racists of any stripe as a good portion of the “Basterds” cast and crew turned up at the last of L.A.’s revival houses, the legendary New Beverly Cinema, to celebrate the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the the award-winning, genre-blending war flick. Indeed, as neighbors from the heavily Hasidic West Hollywood-adjacent neighborhood ignored the commotion, a few of us less observant entertainment scribes got the chance to talk to a select group of not-quite superstar basterds, including players in two of the more acclaimed sitcoms of all time, a personable musician and Tarantino-buddy turned actor, and a passionate producer who is not about to let any conservative climate deniers take away his Oscar…but that’s all ahead.