So, today we learned a lot of new things about Wes Anderson’s early-20th-century European romp, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which now has a distributor (Anderson fans Fox Searchlight) and something of a plot. In addition to IMDb’s lone sentence about the tribulations of Mr. Gustave, "the hotel’s perfectly-composed concierge," Screen Daily has a bit more substantial information.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century."
Wartime friendships? A dysfunctional family? Curious protégés of crazy rich white dudes? Stolen art? Did I mention a dysfunctional family? This is sounding pretty Wes-tacular. But even more characteristically Wes Anderson is the cast, which includes all his favorite pals, and a lot of other marquee names that will probably make this post read like it was done just for SEO purposes.
Returning Anderson-movie alumni include Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe, as well as (deep breath) Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Wilkinson, Bob Balaban, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori. Whew. That’s a lot of people. That’s, like, more than are going to fit on one movie poster. Is there going to be some kind of Hunger Games to determine who gets marquee billing or are they going to try and fit everyone? Wow.
After Moonrise Kingdom swept people away with its whimsical meditation on first love, the sartorially-minded autuer has been working hard on his next ensemble feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson and his slew of handsome stars have been shooting in Germany since the new year and whatever sector of Wes’ world this film falls into, he’s surely rounded up quite a cast. With Alexandre Desplat scoring the film, the synopsis tells us that The Grand Budapest Hotel will follow, "The troubles and tribulations of Mr. Gustave, who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge." Everyone from Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum to Ralph Fiennes and Adrien Bordy to Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel are in the mix, and thanks to The Film Stage we now have a nice roundup of images from on set, as well as a behind the scenes clip. Enjoy.
Remember how Hollywood loves Prada? Michael Pitt was the Italian fashion house’s spring/summer 2012 face and actors Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Emile Hirsch and Jamie Bell strutted for Prada’s fall 2012 menswear show in Milan. The latest celebs to get the Miuccia treatment are Savages’ Benicio Del Toro, Moonrise Kingdom‘s Harvey Keitel, Anna Karenina‘s Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chronicle‘s Dane DeHaan, who all pout for Prada’s Uomo spring 2013 ad campaign.
The mix of silver screen vets and rising newcomers were shot by legendary fashion photographer David Sims in London. The campaign’s styling is on-point and I dig that each look is individually tailored to the star’s style and age. Prada explains that the black and white photography "creates a blank canvas, contrasting with the individuality and modern energy of the diverse characters." And B&W makes everyone look great, no?
Welcome to Cinematic Panic, a new column in which I anxiously watch all of the Criterion Collection films that have either slipped under my radar or have fueled my film obsession and then share my personal rambling insights as to what makes them so damn good. Enjoy.
Certain films should come with seasonal specifications. That’s not to say they cannot be consumed year-round and don’t warrant multiple viewings per year, it’s just that, you know, they’re best experienced to coincide with the psychological state brought on by the specific season they adhere to. For instance, the summer is a perfect time to melt into Robert Altman’s lucid nightmare 3 Women, Sidney Lumet’s guttural and sweaty Dog Day Afternoon, or Wim Wenders’ existential Americana character study, Paris, Texas. It always seemed bizarre to me that most of Stanley Kubrick’s films premiered in the summer months, when A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, and The Shining have always been my go-to films come snowfall. But another director whose films feel distinctly meant for a chill in the air is English master of violent sexual obsession and radical non-linear storytelling, Nicolas Roeg.
Best known for his sci-fi mind-bender The Man Who Fell to Earth, Roeg has carved out his own slice of cinema, replicated by many since but possessing an essence entirely its own—whether critics have been receptive or not. Throughout his oeuvre, especially his early work, his films entice you with an almost drug-induced feeling, where the edges are always a little blurry and the world is a fever dream that you never really want to wake up from. No one does out-of-focus, sparkling-chandelier-light haze reminiscent of fantastical winter nights of intoxication better than Roeg. But for all his work, the one film that has always appealed to all my cinematic fetishes has been his 1980 erotic psychodrama, Bad Timing—or the film that made me sexually attracted to Art Garfunkel. An unpopular opinion in terms of his work, I’m sure, but a brilliant mosaic of a character analysis undoubtably.
In short, the film tells the story of a young woman, Milena (played by Theresa Russell) and her lover, Alex (played by Art Garkfunkel). Beginning with Milena being rushed to the hospital by ambulance with Alex at her side, their relationship is then shown through flashbacks, fragmented scenes, and jump cuts between past and present that illustrate the arch of their romantic entanglement, from the flirting innocence of their meeting to the sensual and deadly obsession that comsume them. As the film progresses, a police investigator (played by Harvey Keitel) worms his way into the story—working as a foil to Alex—to uncover what looks to be Milena’s attempted suicide.
But that’s all basic plot outline. Bad Timing, in essence, is a film about the sexual obsession and savage attraction of two opposites. It’s also a film about chance and fateful encounters. “They were down for each other,” Roeg once vaguely expressed about Alex and Milena. As two Americans living in Vienna, their meeting is almost tragic from the start, intrinsically drawn to one another like two opposing forces, setting in motion a dangerous collision of psyches. Recently separated from her Czech husband, Milena meanders through life, finding pleasure in the impulsiveness of a moment. Alex, on the other hand, lives with structure as a psychoanalyst and professor. Milena has loose control over her emotions, prone to fits of passionate rage and sexual indulgence. Her aggression, fervor, and sexuality live on the surface, but underneath lies a woman who is driven by fear and vulnerability. Alex, conversely, is a cerebral man who sees love as a hurdle to be crossed or something to keep at an arm’s length. He is composed and cold but represses a great deal of violent and sexual urges. Together, the two unearth various traits in one another—a lethal combination of flesh on flesh.
Like the Klimt painting “The Kiss” shown in the first sequence of the film, the story is told with a fragmented narrative—a collage of moments that make up their disjointed relationship. But what’s interesting about Milena and Alex is that even in the deepest moments of affection or love you can taste that hate is only a touch away. Their desire for one another is primal, a type of obsession that stems from the games lovers play and the incessant torture they inflict on one another—whether it’s a purposeful pain or simply a subconscious desire to hurt that which you love before it can hurt you.
In an article for the Criterion Collection, Richard Combs once desired their relationship as resembling “one of those impossible ball-in-a-maze puzzles—there are, in fact, two matching sets of these in the film—where he is drawn to her wildness and chaos and impelled to tame it, perhaps because he fears a matching chaos in himself. When he despairs that she’ll never change, she retorts, ‘If you weren’t who you are, I wouldn’t have to.’” Their love is a rare breed that is an absolute fury and a fire. It’s as if the two have transcended past affection and become a sort of conjoined wound that just won’t heal, constantly tearing and bleeding with lust and hatred. They wish death upon themselves and one other. “Leave and you kill me. Leave and I’m dead,” screams Milena in a manic fit of rage towards Alex.
Using cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond (who also shot The Man Who Fell to Earth and Don’t Look Now), the aesthetic quality of the film is inherently Roeg. The colors vacillate between shades of purple, red, and washed-out blacks and beiges, and have a look that’s at once velvety smooth yet slightly cracked and off-kilter. Cromb compared the emotional texture of the film to the contrast between “the romantic shimmer of Gustav Klimt and the psychological darkness of Egon Schiele.” And what really makes all of Roeg’s films stand apart from his contemporaries is the mastery of editing and the skill of knowing how to manipulate a moment through cuts to allow the audience to penetrate the psyche of a character so they become invested in a moment and feel almost a part of their world.
Since its release, the film has caused myriad mixed feelings in its audience. Some find it tasteless and jarring, whereas others honor its brilliance and mastery of craft. There’s no doubting the audacity of Roeg as a filmmaker and the unapologetic performances by its cast and the characters they inhabit. When the film was released, one of the executives at the company that distributed it called Bad Timing "a sick film made by sick people for sick people." Well, if that is true, then please excuse me. I’m going to go lie down now.
It’s that time of year again: Boss’s Day. (What’s that, you ask? When is Employee’s Day? Everyday is Employee’s Day! Now shut up and get back to work, you peons!) (Yes, one could say I am blogging like a boss today.) To celebrate, here’s a list of the best bosses in movie history. "Best," of course, is a relative term, but hey, this is the internet and all I know is that I’m the boss of listicles today, so deal with it or you’re fired.
1. Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker in Working Girl
2. Dabney Coleman as Franklin M. Hart, Jr. in 9 to 5
3. Diana Rigg as Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper
4. Christopher Walken as Max Shreck in Batman Returns
5. Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
6. Bette Midler as Sadie Shelton in Big Business
7. Michael Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch in The Other Guys
8. Garry Marshall as Walter Harvey in A League of Their Own
9. Dan Hedaya as Richard Nixon in Dick
10. Harvey Keitel as Matthew "Sport" Higgins in Taxi Driver
11. Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in In the Loop
12. Anthony LaPaglia as Joe Reaves in Empire Records
13. Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail
14. Maggie Smith as Mother Superior in Sister Act
15. John Cusack as Rob Gordon in High Fidelity
16. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest
Steve Carell is definitely leaving The Office, but his replacement is still yet to be determined. This has induced no end of hand-wringing and speculation over possible candidates, chief among them Rainn Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Danny McBride, and Rhys Darby. Now E! maintains that another name is in the mix, one that sounds so ill-advised that it verges on sabotage and/or genius: Harvey Keitel. Can you picture the original Bad Lieutenant yukking it up with Dwight?
As far as long-shot candidates go, I was rooting for David Cross myself, but the Keitel choice ups the ante for its sheer craziness. “He’s probably the only guy who can do it,” said executive producer Paul Lieberstein, “and he’s doing TV now”. Only one of those statements is true, of course. Life on Mars may have been canceled, but it did showcase Keitel to great effect, bringing out a humorous side not seen since the vastly underrated—and I’m saying this in all sincerity—Little Nicky. The only problem with this whole concept is that Lieberstein admits he hasn’t even contacted Keitel about it yet. Which means, amusing as this whole thing is to think about, it’s probably bullshit. He ‘aint the only guy.
You didn’t have to pry your way into the Boom Boom Room to go celebrity-hunting in the Meatpacking District last Thursday night. For a $30 ticket (which would get you just one drink at the Boom, by the way) you could have supported a fantastic cause, and gotten your fill of A-listers. Aerospace High Performance Center, the chic athletic club on 13th street, hosted its third annual Championships Fight for Fitness competition — proceeds go to the East Harlem School’s fitness program — with an impressive panel of celebrity judges including Hugh Jackman, Adriana Lima, Narciso Rodriguez, Q-tip and Harvey Keitel.
Perched on bleachers around a boxing ring, a crowd of excited gym members and their trendy kids watched the show; on another wall, Hugh Jackman and his kids watched, too, although we noticed eight-year-old Oscar Jackman focused more on Dad’s iPhone.
The competition was divided into two main events — jump rope and boxing — while contestants were judged on three official categories: swagger, getup and realism. Who better to critique one’s outfit than supermodel Adriana Lima, who left six-month-old daughter Valentina at home, in order to offer her expertise. The new mom looked like a teenager in a colorful sundress, with her hair pulled back, flashing smile after smile. Dispelling any rumor that high-fashion models are high maintenance, the Brazilian beauty took off her heels as she jumped around, flashing scorecards and kissing sweaty contestants on the cheek. “I’ve tried many different workouts,” says Adriana, “but the best exercise for me was boxing because it’s not boring, it challenges you, and every day you learn something new.”
Outfits aside, actors Hugh Jackman and Harvey Keitel determined which fighters looked more like Hulk Hogan than Muhammed Ali. Included among the scrappers were a handful of muscled women who took their turns sparring with club owner and fitness expert Michael Olajide. Jackman, a veteran boxer at Aerospace, has no qualms throwing punches with the weaker sex. “My wife comes here too,” says the actor, “That’s why I first came here. I thought, I’ve got to keep up with her or she’s going to kick my ass.” Man or woman, Jackman knows from experience how hard boxing can be. “It’s the most intense workout I know.”
● AMERICA FERRERA – “My favorite restaurant of the moment is Broadway East, on the Lower East Side.” ● CHARLIE MURPHY – “I’ve been going to this Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. I think it’s called El Torito, whatever. That’s one of them. I go to so many restaurants. This is what I want to explain, so no one’s insulted. I’m on the road 48 weeks of the year in different towns, and I go to a lot of restaurants, so to ask me what my favorite restaurant is, is kind of a hard question to answer. I like going to Baja Fresh in L.A.” ● GRETCHEN ROSSI – “In Newport Beach, it’s Flemings. It’s a steakhouse, and I eat the steak and potatoes and everything that you can imagine on the menu. But I just eat small portions, so that you get a taste of everything.”
● LANCE GROSS – “I love Tao here in New York. I don’t get to New York a lot, but the Cafeteria. I love the Cafeteria. I do all the nightclubs. I don’t even know the names. I just go into them.” ● REGINA KING – “Right now, I’m really loving Osteria Mozza in L.A., Mario Batali’s restaurant. It’s so funny because where he opened was a place in L.A. that there’s been four restaurants that tried to make it there; came; spent a lot of money; closed down. And he has been booming, banging with business, and rightfully so. So, if you go and get the oxtail ragu — oh, my God! Hah! It is so good, and mmmm, the pizza next door is even better, because it’s Nancy Silverton from La Brea Bakery making the dough. I love to eat, clearly.” ● PRAS – “Geez! Right now it’s gotta be Dylan Prime. That’s in my neighborhood. Every time I’m out of town, I always take a trip back to Dylan. I feel like I’ve landed back home. Do you like steak? I love — I’m a big meat eater, despite all the things they tell you about eating charred beef.”
At the opening of A Behanding in Spokane on Broadway:
● HARVEY KEITEL – “A candy store in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn. It was called Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves.” ● ANTHONY MACKIE – “Hey, book that is black! I love to go down to STK. One of my very favorite restaurants is Three Sisters, on Madison and 124th — the best Caribbean food you can find in New York. ● JENNIFER MORRISON – “I have had no chance to discover that yet because we just opened last night. Where in L.A.? I love Madeo restaurant. We eat there all the time. Dan Tana’s, some of the usual spots. I’m a huge fan of spaghetti and meat sauce. It’s my weakness, anywhere I go.” ● ZOE KAZAN – “I love your magazine! I haven’t been going to a lot of bars or clubs lately. I’ve been going to theater hangouts, like the West Bank Cafe or Bar Centrale. In my neighborhood, I love Buttermilk Channel, which is a restaurant in Cobble Hill or Frankie’s 457. I like the fried chicken at Buttermilk Channel.” ● MARTIN MCDONAGH – “Angus McIndoe.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “Oh, c’mon!”
● DANA IVEY – “I don’t want to give it away ’cause too many people will go there. I don’t want to say because it’ll be infiltrated by everybody, and I won’t get a seat! No, but Joe Allen’s is always good. That’s one of my faves. Oh, they have this great, great salad that I really, really like — trevisano, something, I can’t remember, but that’s what I get every time.” ● HOPE DAVIS – “Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn.” ● JOAN HAMBURG – “You mean in this neighborhood? I love to go to Orso’s. Oh, I like a lot of places. I like Blue Hill downtown. I got a list!” ● SARAH PAULSON – “One of them is a secret. I don’t want anybody else to know about it, so I won’t talk about that place. I love a place called Café Cluny, on 12th Street and West 4th Street, down in the Village. Any favorite dish? The burger and the Cluny. It’s a giant martini, which is always really good. I’m, kind of, like a person who only goes to places that are in the neighborhood I happen to be standing in, in the moment, which is what’s so great about New York — you’re bound to turn around and hit something great.” ● MARCIA GAY HARDEN – “Oh, God, we never go out. Honestly, we don’t go out. Our living room, our kitchen, our dining room. What about in L.A.? Oh, God, I wouldn’t say L.A. before New York! I couldn’t possibly say L.A. before New York. Okay, wait! We like Settepani in Harlem. We love Orso. We love Orso.” ● STACY KEACH – “It’s a tough one, isn’t it? There’s so many. Joe’s restaurant in Venice. Everything is good, but I, particularly, like steak ‘n eggs, yeah. In New York, there’s so many wonderful restaurants, and we just got here. And every time I come back to New York, I discover new places, so I’m hesitant to give you names of places.” ● PABLO SCHREIBER – “The old standards are the — what’s the place over here on 46th where we go after the show? It’s right above Joe Allen’s. Yeah, I, always forget the name of it ’cause they have no sign. [That would be Bar Centrale. -ed] That’s my favorite place for after-dinner drinks. I went to a great Greek restaurant last night, called Molyvos, on 7th Avenue between 55th and 56th. That place was pretty delicious. I had the whole fish. It was a black sea bass, and they did it perfectly. I’m a father of a 16th-month-old kid, so I don’t get out much these days.” ● DAVID HYDE PIERCE – “No, I don’t have any. I don’t have a lot of places to talk about like that.” ● LILY RABE – “I love Maialino. It’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel. It just opened. It’s amazing. Yes, it’s really good. And I love Café Cluny. Morandi. Those are my favorite places to eat. And the Breslin is also really incredible. The Breslin has this pork belly that’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever eaten in the city.” ● JULIE TAYMORE – “Craft, Maialino, Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa Grill.” ● TOM WAITS – “Oh, gee, I eat at home. I eat at home.” ● PAUL DANO – “Eton’s — it’s a dumpling place in Brooklyn. Po. Franny’s — all Brooklyn.” ● ANTHONY ANDERSON – “I really don’t hang out much in New York because of the work schedule that we have. But when I do, I find myself having a drink at Tillman’s. My favorite eatery would have to be Abe & Arthur’s.” ● GRIFFIN DUNNE – “I’m mostly upstate these days, so I’ve got little holes up there that I hit, in Duchess County. What do I want to plug? Gigi’s, an Italian restaurant — very, very good. I think that’s in Rhinebeck, yeah.”