Archive for Elliott Gould

Film Directors with Their Shirts Off and Trousers Down

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2013 by dcairns

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“George Raft never took his clothes off.”

Mark Rydell (far right) strips in Robert Altman’s THE LONG GOODBYE, doing pre-emptive penance to Elliott Gould (second right) for directing him in HARRY AND WALTER GO TO NEW YORK.

It’s worth watching young Arnie Schwartzenegger (second left, with bum-fluff moustache) in this scene — while the other thugs register surprise and reluctance at being ordered to denude by their boss, Ahnoldt can’t wait — he’s eager to go, unbuttoning almost before the words are out of Rydell’s mouth — it’s what he took the job for in the first place. Be a gangster’s bodyguard and expose your pecs.

I’m just reading some early Raymond Chandler stories (and Fiona is reading Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest — it’s a hardboiled household). I really feel that Pearls are a Nuisance ought to be a Major Motion Picture, possibly by the Coen Brothers, possibly starring Armie Hammer. There’s some comic dialogue in there worthy of Sturges.

“Drunk, Walter?” he boomed. “Did I hear you say drunk? An Eichelberger drunk? Listen, son. We ain’t got a lot of time now. It would take maybe three months. Some day when you got three months and maybe five thousand gallons of whiskey and a funnel, I would be glad to take my own time and show you what an Eichelberger looks like when drunk. You wouldn’t believe it. Son, there wouldn’t be nothing of this town but a few sprung girders and a lot of busted bricks, in the middle of which–Geez, I’ll get talking English myself if I hang around you much longer–in the middle of which, peaceful, with no human life nearer than maybe fifty miles. Henry Eichelberger will be on his back smiling at the sun. Drunk, Walter. Not stinking drunk, not even country-club drunk. But you could use the word drunk and I wouldn’t take no offense.”

Georgie takes a bath (1)

Via La Faustin — an image which gives the lie to Gould’s too-hasty statement — George Raft with his clothes off. Source?

Take Care of My Cat

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by dcairns

I had the pleasure of seeing Richard Ledes’ FRED when I was looking at submissions for the Film Festival — I watched it with the growing conviction that it was something unusual and very strong and then it slam-dunked a SUPERB final scene. I was able to congratulate one of its stars, Elliott Gould, since he’s here at the Fest, but while I was talking to him and perhaps gesticulating too broadly, Fiona stepped into my area of gesticulation and I hit her in the teeth with my beer bottle. Fortunately she wasn’t harmed, bit it was sore and kind of embarrassing.

“I can’t believe you hit me in the face with a bottle in front of Elliott Gould,” she said, later.

“That’s OK, he’s used to it,” I replied, thinking of THE LONG GOODBYE.

Another thing reminiscent of the Altman classic — Gould spends the whole of FRED longing for the return of a lost cat. I’m sure that wasn’t added to the script with him in mind, but it makes for a lovely connection.

The whole time I was watching the film, I was wondering WHO IS THAT? Not about Elliott Gould, but about the woman who plays his wife. I knew I knew her from somewhere. I mean, she was really familiar. So I looked up Judith Roberts and realized she’s the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall in ERASERHEAD. She’s still incredibly striking.

Speaking of the whole “I know that face” phenomenon — Mark Cousins introduced me to his regular collaborator Tilda Swinton yesterday, which was lovely. She threw me for a loop by immediately saying, “I have a feeling I know you.”

Well, I think the only time I’ve been in the same room with T.S. was in that very same room, Filmhouse Screen 1, when she was on the stage with Derek Jarman talking about CARAVAGGIO, and I was sitting in the seat she was sitting in when she said “I have a feeling I know you.”

But I didn’t think to say that.

I could have just said, “You are obviously confusing me with Brad Pitt.”

But I didn’t think to say that either.

Ruthless People

Posted in FILM, Politics, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by dcairns

An ebullient William Friedkin and a glamorous Gina Gershon presented KILLER JOE, the EIFF’s opening night film. I’m typing this with a colossal hangover after the party, a swank affair conducted at the Royal Museum, where the Innis & Gunn 0ak-aged beer flowed freely. So (1) I’m typing very softly. Forgive me if the letters appear faint. And (2) my memory of the film appears as if from behind a thick, obscuring cloud. Bear with me.

I liked BUG, and KILLER JOE looks a lot like it — hard, sharp, neon-bright cinematography (this time by the great Caleb Deschanel). Both derive from plays by Tracy Letts, who scripted. KILLER JOE is more “opened out,” so people keep going places for no essential reason, but that’s OK. The play’s the thing, and this one is, I’d say, tighter and more satisfyingly plotted than its predecessor — and the cast is terrific. BUG helped make a name for Michael Shannon, and this one ought to do the same for Juno Temple. I don’t see that many new films so I didn’t know her or Emile Hirsch.

Basically, Hirsch’s trailer-trash dope dealer is in debt to some bad guys, so he hires contract killer Joe (Mathew McConaughey) to kill his mother for the insurance. This lady is so popular that her ex-husband (Thomas Haden Church) and daughter (Temple) are quite happy to go along with this deal. Gina Gershon, Church’s current wife, is also in on the act.

McConaughey rediscovers the intensity that made him so striking in LONE STAR, and which he’s dispensed with in all the fluffy fair he’s done since. In fact, he goes further — this is one of the most impressive psychopaths in recent years (and it’s not like there aren’t plenty to choose from). Friedkin is the man for this kind of thing, I guess.

Note the stitching on Church’s shoulder — subject of the year’s best visual gag.

On the one hand, this is a film about family, and can best be taken as a horrifically funny, nasty satire on the whole concept of family life. Any assumptions about family ties are dismissed as baloney, greed trumps morality, and even love can flip over into murderous violence at a moment’s notice. Since the driving force is a debt that is incurred (a contract killing where the killer cannot be paid as arranged), it’s arguably about the financial crisis. I had a nice debate at the party with a friend who bemoaned the film’s misogyny and clichés and thought that was a real stretch. I’m not sure Friedkin has ever cared particularly what message his films might be putting out — he wants them to be effective, which means provoking the audience, and on that level KILLER JOE is his best film in years. The audience laughed and winced as one. It’s Friedkin’s first NC-17 rated film in the US.

Didn’t get the chance to congratulate him afterwards — maybe I’d have been too scared. He’s supremely affable in person, but with, you know, an edge. I did shake Elliott Gould’s hand and congratulate him on FRED, which I had a small role in selecting. “I’ve seen your film,” I bellowed over the music. “I haven’t,” said E.G. “But I gather it’s about the human condition. And getting too old.”

This morning, I know exactly the feeling.

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