Take Care of My Cat

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.

14 Responses to “Take Care of My Cat”

  1. Elliot Gould is a great cinematic resource and an utterly delightful man. I see him round L.A. all the time — often in the company of his son, Jason.

    He’s been working a lot for Soderbergh of late — and quite effectively. But for me he’ll always be Altman’s “Marlborough Man.”

    Meanwhile, off-topic: Wanna see Jacques Rivette’ Out 1 ?


  2. Thanks for the link! Need to put aside a day or two for that one.

    My favourite Gould-Altman is California Split. My favourite Gould altogether may be Little Murders. It’s nice that Soderbergh cast him in big films, but it’s really nice seeing him in Fred where he’s the biggest thing in it. Really delightful/sad film about aging.

  3. Lovely. We’ve had incongruous public encounters with Elliot Gould and Tilda Swinton when living in that there London (it’s almost inevitable if you hang out in Soho cafes). But tell us more about Gina Gershon. You can make it up if necessary.

    I love your photos of Ms Gershon and Mr Friedkin in Edinburgh with the old dears in the background. Pure dead glamorous so it is.

  4. I only saw Gina G from a distance, on stage introducing Killer Joe with Friedkin. She said she’d been offered a part in the stage production in LA but couldn’t face THAT every night for a prolonged run (when you see the film you’ll know what THAT is).

    She seemed to still be speaking to BF. He made a joke about her fiance, who was about to see the film for the first time. “If you feel the need to punch me afterwards, please not in the chest, because I have a pacemaker…”

    Gershon makes her first appearance in the film naked from the waist down. So I guess if I’d met her I could have congratulated her on her magnificent entrance…

    In his rambling, wonderful public Q&A today, Gould referred to Friedkin’s love of chaos. He had Norman Wisdom squirt Denholm Eliot in the eye with a soda seltzer on The Night They Raided Minskys, without warning, and DE was hurt.

    Likewise, Altman told Gould, “I learned to create in an atmosphere of chaos and so I have to create an atmosphere of chaos in order to create.” Gould’s feeling was that this was wrong because Friedkin and Altman were dealing with experts at their craft.

  5. Tony Williams Says:

    My condolences to Fiona. This is a far cry from the world of Sir Walter Scott whose novels I’m reading at present.

  6. Yes, the age of chivalry is dead. This is the age of chiselry. (J. Cagney)

  7. An “atmosphere of chaos” is no chaos itself.

  8. What tends to happen, I think, is that there is some kind of order, but only the director is aware of how it works, which puts him in an unchallenged position. One of Peckinpah’s collaborators said that Bloody Sam was so constitutionally off-balance that he had to throw everyone else off-balance in order to function. I think it’s somewhat similar with Friedkin, at least.

  9. I think what Tilda was referring to was your mutual erudition.

  10. Tony Williams Says:

    Didn’t Larry Cohen once say, “Where cahos rules, I thrive”?

  11. I imagine he did!

    Tilda had no chance to experience my erudition, I was way too tongue-tied!

  12. Well loosen up the next time you run into her. She’s exceptionally easy to talk to.

  13. Oh, but I am so very late to the party.

    “Gould spends the whole of FRED longing for the return of a lost cat” reminds me of Kurosawa’s Madadayo, a film I (and likely ONLY I) consider the gold standard of lost cat movies.

  14. Alex Cox is a big fan of Madadayo. I haven’t watched it yet. Donald Ritchie’s explication of the title made me very keen though.

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