Thursday, October 6, 2022

David O. Russell, John Waters

I love FLIRTING WITH DISASTER and I really like THREE KINGS and I enjoy I HEAR HUCKABEES.  But I'm not into David O. Russell's work anymore.  Lily Tomlin was great in HUCKABEES -- so was Mark Wahlberg, but I want to focus on Lily.  She was great, she was outstanding.  But when Jane Fonda praised him back around 2010, I was taken aback.  Because after HUCKABEES was released, videos started turning up on YOUTUBE.  Lily and Dustin are in a car and their doing a scene when David O. Russell storms up and starts screaming and bullying Lily.  Then it's the set of the office her character has and they're in the middle of filming a scene where he storms into camera range cursing at her and screaming at her and throwing things.

He's a damn bully.

I don't see his films anymore.  This is about his art, he's being a bully on the set.  Wouldn't like him as a person if he was pulling that garbage at a park, but I could draw a line between that and his art.  But his is his art.  And he's destroying it with his tantrums.  I don't understand why he keeps getting hired.  So GQ is out with Christian Bale on the cover and Amy Adams has already talked about how mean David Russell was to her on the set and how he made her cry.   Now Christian Bale is telling GQ is saying he had to step in between the two to protect Amy from David.  

I don't understand how David keeps working.

Meanwhile, John Waters hasn't had a directing job in nearly two decades.  But the director of HAIRSPRAY, CRY BABY, SERIAL MOM and more is about to direct a new film -- one based on his novel LIARMOUTH.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 6, 2022.  We're part two on BROS today and we also note a new event in Iraq and an anniversary.


This week, the late Cass Elliot got her star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame thanks to the very hard work of her daughter Owen Kunkle.  Cass was a one-of-a-kind vocalist.  With The Mamas and the Papas (Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and John Phillips), she sang on such classics as "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," "Safe In My Garden," "California Dreamin'," "Creeque Alley," "Dancing Bear," "Midnight Voyage," "Got A Feeling," "Monday, Monday," "I Saw Her Again Last Night," "Sing For Your Supper," "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)," "Dedicated To The One I Love," "Too Late," "Words of Love" and many more.  As a solo artist, her classics included "California Earthquake," "Make Your Own Kind Of Music," "It's Getting Better," "New World Coming," "Move In A Little Closer Baby," etc.  "Different" (video above) is a song she performs in the film PUFNSTUF.   There are so many classics waiting to be rediscovered.  I'd include Cass' version of Judee Sill's "Jesus Was A Crossmaker" . . . 

. . . and of Laura Nyro's "He's A Runner."

Owen's done a great job honoring her mother.  Cass is remembered to this day.  And her music pops up everywhere -- yes, LOST, but I'm thinking of Hettie MacDonald's BEAUTIFUL THING.  That 1996 film is an important one.  

We're back to BROS and we're back to my marveling over how some people are so uninformed and some are taking part in the backlash without even grasping it.

BROS is the best comedy of 2022. Billy Eichner co-wrote the screenplay and he stars in the film with Luke Macfarlane.  People are continuing to see it and maybe if theaters were running it it would be making even more money.  I've already detailed how homophobia on the part of theater owners led to less showings on the Friday it debuted.  But what's going on now, especially with AMC theaters, is it's only been shown once or twice a day.  Even so, it made $1.4 million on Monday and Tuesday -- Wednesday's numbers will come out later today.

It's an important film and let's address that because people don't seem to understand what an important film is.

Some are carping and blaming Billy -- on that, I haven't seen anything like that since MOMENT BY MOMENT -- when, as Academy Award winning film editor Verna Fields (JAWS, WHAT'S UP DOC?, PAPER MOON, AMERICAN GRAFFITI . . .) observed they refused to let the film die.  They being the industry.  They slammed and they ripped apart long after it had faded away.  The film starred Lily Tomlin and John Travolta.  It was directed by Jane Wagner.  And it was attacked because the director was a lesbian.

Now MOMENT BY MOMENT is not a great film.  It's not an awful film.  There were awful films released at that time and they were allowed to fade away.  But there was a concentrated effort to go after the film.  As Verna pointed out, many, many films bomb and they're allowed to die but with Jane Wagner's film, they wouldn't let it.  They kept after it, kept insulting and destroying it inflating it into the all time worst movie.

If MOMENT BY MOMENT were widely available today -- TCM can show the crap that is WHO'S THAT GIRL? but they can't show Jane Wagner's film -- it might be re-evaluated.  It might seem better than it did in its own time.

But let's teach the lesbian her place -- that was the industry's goal.  Everyone knew Lily was gay and that she and Jane were in a relationship -- everyone in the industry knew.  And no studio wanted Lily out of the closet and they didn't want her working with Jane.  Which is why Lily and Jane would find their success on Broadway.  

The industry doesn't honor coming out.  It never has.  Ellen came out and ABC pissed all over her show -- adding that warning before every episode, for example, refusing to promote it, acting as though it was a flop when it was still doing better than SPIN CITY or the awful show that replaced it.

Ellen got another shot at sitcoms.  But CBS refused to back it.  It didn't belong on Friday nights -- something they realized when the show landed Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner as guest stars on one episode.  CBS suddenly moved the show to Monday nights for one episode.  Oh, wow, look at the high ratings, look at the difference a time slot can make.  Then it was immediately shove it back to Fridays.

CBS didn't want to support it -- like they didn't want to support PARTNERS.  

Sometimes, the industry is more interested in laying down the law than they are in making a profit.

And some of the garbage being published in the trades reads like an effort to destroy Billy.  Even sadder, the trashing is finding an audience gleeful to join in.

(As noted  before, I know Luke Macfarlane and consider him a friend.  I don't know Billy, I've never even met him.)

Billy has made an amazing film and egged on by the trades, some of the garbage is mutlyping online.


And some supposedly saw the movie.

They blame Billy, for example, because BROKEBACK was a hit!!!!  If BROKEBACK is a hit then BROS would be too -- it must not be any good!

Did they not see BROS?  The dead cowboy?

I believe Billy makes that point in the film -- sadness and death straight audiences are more than fine with now.  That's where we've progressed as a society.  We can applaud BROKEBACK and even the hideous LOVE SIMON and its after birth LOVE VICTOR.

Ava and I wrote the following in June of 2020:

Original content? Sometimes about the only thing nice you can say is: Well it's new content.

We thought about that as we suffered through LOVE, VICTOR. HULU decided to do a TV series out of the film LOVE, SIMON. And they brought along all the baggage from the film.

You may remember Jennifer Garner and other stars of the film tried to pimp the movie. BLACK PANTHER had done incredible at the box office for many reasons, The people behind LOVE, SIMON suspected one reason for the film's success was that BLACK PANTHER was being pushed as a film with a person of color playing an admired comic book hero. Outside of Wesley Snipes in the BLADE films, that had not happened.

In the crazy world where Jennifer Garner has some sort of career despite so-so talents, it seemed logical to tell people that they should see LOVE SIMON because it was about a gay person.

Here's the thing, and we objected in real time, Chadwik Boseman played Black Panther (and did so with an amazing performance). Boseman is a person of color.

LOVE, SIMON? It starred boxy Nick Robinson as a gay man. But, here's the problem (pay attention, Jennifer), Nick Robinson is not gay (or, if he is gay, he's in the closet).

The idiots didn't get it. They still don't.

LOVE, VICTOR is supposed to instill gay pride. How?

Michael Cimino stars as high schooler Victor who, yes, is gay.

And, if this were 1992, that might be something. But it's not 1992, it's 2020.

How can a series preach gay pride or even just tolerance (we've never been fans of tolerance) when the gay character is played by a straight actor (judging by his INSTAGRAM)?

If being gay is okay (and we agree that it is), why are you casting straight actors in the role?

Anybody remember IN AND OUT? One of the jokes in the movie is that Matt Dillon's straight character plays -- and wins an Oscar for playing -- a gay character. That was funny in 1997. In 2020, it's just sad. 

What a great message for the world, for the youth, for us all -- It's okay to play gay.

Not to be gay, understand, but it's okay for a straight person to play gay.

Both LOVEs refused to cast an out gay actor -- as either Simon or Victor.  

I'm sorry, love Scarlet Johansson to tears, but, no, when trans actors are getting cast so little it is not right for a non-trans person to play a trans character.

This was our beef with Cleveland of FAMILY GUY and THE CLEVELAND SHOW -- Ava and I tackled that repeatedly at THIRD -- why is a White actor voicing Cleveland on FAMILY GUY and it only got worse on TCS when other non-African-Americans were brought on to voice Black characters.

Can a straight actor play a gay character?  Sure.  They might even be able to play it well.  But when out actors are still trying for something more than a bit part, casting gay leads with straight actors is offensive.

And don't pretend that Billy and Luke both being out wasn't an issue.  Don't pretend for one moment.  

Billy could have cast a straight actor as his love interest.  We would've gotten a crappy movie -- because after that concession, he would have had to make many more -- and some ass would be posting online about how it was a hit that made $65 million for the studio.  No, it didn't -- we really need to educate on markets and on theaters and on the issue of who makes the most upfront -- I'm tired of idiots trying to handicap the box office when they don't know what the f**k they're talking about.  They're usually quoting crapapedia -- that's where they get garbage about how LOVE SIMON is the X on the all time list of top grossing teen romance movies per BOX OFFICE MOJO!  That link doesn't work because it never did work because that's not a truth.  And if you want to make a list, you better grasp that SIXTEEN CANDLES had $80 million in ticket sales because you can't take that 80s movie and put it on the list without putting it into today's dollars. 

Billy made a movie that mattered.

When we've talked about this to groups this week someone will raise a hand or clear their throat and I know before they open their mouth where they are about to go . . . "No offense, but I think the pushback in society is to a degree because of trans people."

Do you think that?

You may be right.

And I think: Good.  

There's always going to be a backlash, the pendulum is always going to swing one way and then the next.

It is important that people press for progress.  That's the only way it ever happens.

The trans community shouldn't be silent and they shouldn't have to wait for their rights.  We should all be pushing for equality.  

You don't win anything by being silent.  You don't win anything by saying, "I'll fight in a few years."

Did the trans community make some people uncomfortable?  Again, if they did, good.  That's how we grow.  

And Billy's made a great movie in terms of entertainment.  But he's also made a historic movie by being so true to himself.  

He and Luke are the first gay (out) actors to play a same-sex couple that a film's focused on where they fall in love, where they have sex and neither dies.

Your crappy LOVE SIMON, if you've forgotten, makes the climatic moment of the film Simon finding out who his admirer was.  Yeah, that's all they could handle in the 90s and LOVE SIMON is not going to push for anything better than what we could have seen decades ago.

ABC let Ellen come out but they didn't know how to deal with her once she was out.  It was one thing for her to have a non-romantic kiss with Laura Dern on the coming out episode (idiots continue to refer to it as a romantic kiss -- no, Laura's character is already involved and in a relationship) but when Ellen found Lori, the next season, ABC had such a huge problem with it.

LOVE SIMON takes you to the first gloricous sunset and that's all some can handle.  Billy went beyond that and his film is transformative.

Back when he was president, Barack Obama got really pissed at Joe Biden when Joe went on MEET THE PRESS because Barack was going to do a slow-roll on marriage equality and Joe forced everyone's hand.  Joe also noted, in that appearance, that attitudes had changed towards gay people because of WILL & GRACE.  Joe was right.  

Without representation, people don't exist.  That's true in a democracy and it's true in the arts.  

Billy's put some truth onto the screen.  He's changed the country as a result.

I am very limited on what criticism I will take right now on Billy because he has not gotten any where near the credit he deserves for what he's done.  

Or for the crap he's had to put up with over the last days.

He insulted us!!!! Get a damn grip.  He said straight people didn't turn out for the movie.  He's right.  as a group, we did not turn out.  It's a fact.  

He's blaming!!!! It's a fact and I didn't hear blaming in it, I heard shock and surprise.  And he has every right to have that (or any other) response.  The film achieved.  Where's the audience?

I don't think they were steered to it.  When you have the kind of reviews BROS got?  That's one of your trailers.  Not "Such and such on Rotten Tomatoes" -- a small segment of the audience cares about RT.  That's about it.  What you do is you pull quote from reviews and make that a trailer.  

But UNIVERSAL didn't want to do that.  The attitude was, "We've spent enough promoting the film."  And that was before it opened.  Before.  

A film with those of reviews?  A studio goes all out -- drama or comedy.  They go all out promoting. Studios live for those kind of reviews.

Even now, UNIVERSAL's not doing a good job.  There should have been multiple trailers.  There should be clips on YOUTUBE that you can stream -- multiple clips.  There are not.  

And where is the romance in the trailer?

We do get a kiss . . . after some pushing and shoving that others mistake as a physical fight and think they have to break up -- cue laughter.  As a scene in the movie, it more than works.  In the trailer?  Looks a lot like the reaction to 1982's PARTNERS (the comedy starring Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt).  

Why was UNIVERSAL more scared of romance being shown in the trailer?  

Time and again, you look at everything that went down and you see institutionalized homophobia.

Billy was up against all of that.  And he made an incredible film.

Repeatedly, I see people posting that the trailer turned them off because it mocked straight people.  A number of people are insisting that they are butt hurt over that.

Then they 'quote' the line and get it wrong.  But more to the point, that same trailer - the only trailer -- had Billy and Luke speaking and saying gay people were so stupid.

That happened before the joke about straight people.  

It's interesting to watch this conversation and see what gets emphasized and what goes unspoken.

Alice Walker has always said she writes the world she wants to see.  

And that's what you have to do.  Most of us will never see the possibilities unless someone gives us a glimpse. 

With BROS, Billy goes beyond the climatic coming out moment after which Hollywood wants the gay characters to go away or to drop deep into the background and be supporting characters.  He goes beyond the it's-okay-for-them-to-be-in-love-because-one-is-going-to-die nonsense.  

BROS shatters everything that Hollywood has created over many, many decades.

He didn't settle, he pushed the conversation along.  He took us, in one film, further than Hollywood's done in three decades.

And that's what you do if you're an artist, it's what you do if you're an activist.

No one is ever going to be happy to let go of their prejudice and their entitlement.

Dave Chappelle (who I know and like) has too much fun mocking the transgender community.  He's too vested in it.  And, in his mind, you're an awful person if you're asking him to stop and think for a moment.  I said when the criticism mounted against Dave that he needed to listen and that people were right to press him on this issue.  That's not censorship, that's a dialogue, that's an exchange in the public square.

The trans community pushed their issues and that's what they needed to do.  

They have every right to participate in this democracy, they have every right to raise their issues and to say "Here I am."

And only by doing that are they going to be heard and are they going to be appreciated.  That's how it is for every minority group.  You have to fight.  

But you have to fight smartly.  That's not a slam on the trans community, I think they've done a wonderful job.  That is a slam on some of the people posting carps online about BROS.  Billy delivered.  It's not his fault that the studio didn't.  It's not his fault.

UNIVERSAL did the bare minimum ahead of the film and now they're willing to let the film die.  They're not trying to fix their mistakes.  They're not rushing out a trailer that is nothing but pull quotes.  They're not rushing a trailer that's showing romance.  They're not even flooding the internet with clips.

They want the credit and their egos stroked.  They haven't done anything wonderful.  Billy worked his ass off.  UNIVERSAL's basically copying Aaron Spelling in the 90s, copying him in 2022.  That's not bravery and it's nothing that should earn them any credit.


As certain elements within the industry gleefully sharpen their knives for Billy, I wish there was a real pushback leading us to all acknowledge what he has achieved.

 Billy is not Orson Welles and BROS is not CITIZEN KANE.  But we're seeing Billy getting that treatment, the post-CITIZEN KANE treatment where the industry turned on Orson.  

Let's turn to Iraq before I start swearing (as always, the snapshot is dictated).

Stephen Zunes (TRUTH OUT) notes:

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the fateful congressional vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq, many are questioning what would have happened had Congress refused to go along. There was widespread public opposition to going to war at the time. The Catholic Church and every mainline Protestant denomination came out against the war, as did virtually every major labor union and other left-of-center organization that took a stand. The vast majority of the U.S. Middle East scholars opposed an invasion, being aware of the likely disastrous consequences. The vast majority of the world’s nations, including most of the United States’s closest allies, were also in opposition to the war.

Unlike the near-unanimous vote (save for Rep. Barbara Lee) the previous year authorizing military force in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war resolution was far more controversial. A sizable majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the resolution authorizing the invasion, which came to a vote on October 10, 2002. The Republicans then controlled the House, however, and it passed easily.

This left the determination as to whether the United States would go to war up to the Democratic-controlled Senate the following day. To the astonishment of many, several leading Democratic senators crossed the aisle to support the war authorization, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid and Foreign Relations Committee Chair Joe Biden, as well as such prominent senators as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, John Edwards and Dianne Feinstein.

All this was well-known at the time. Since then, however, a number of these Democrats, particularly those with presidential ambitions, have lied about their votes — and much of the mainstream media have allowed them to get away with it.

The primary excuse they have subsequently put forward has been that the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution,” as it was formally known, was not actually an authorization for use of military force against Iraq. Instead, these Democrats claim they did not actually support George W. Bush’s decision to invade in March 2003 but simply wanted to provide the administration with leverage to pressure Iraq to allow a return of UN inspectors, which President Clinton had ordered removed in 1998 prior to a four-day bombing campaign, and Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had, quite predictably, not yet allowed to return.

Despite wording in the congressional resolution providing Bush with an open-ended authority to invade, John Kerry claimed in 2013 that he “opposed the president’s decision to go into Iraq.” While running for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton insisted that she voted for the resolution simply because “we needed to put inspectors in, that was the underlying reason why I at least voted to give President Bush the authority,” and that she did not want to “wage a preemptive war.” Similarly, during his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden insisted he supported Bush’s war resolution not because he actually wanted to invade Iraq, but because “he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program,” and further claiming that, “Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment.”

In reality, at the time of the vote on the war resolution, the Iraqi government had already agreed in principle to a return of the weapons inspectors and were negotiating with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission on the details which were formally institutionalized a few weeks later. (Indeed, it would have likely been resolved earlier had the Bush administration not repeatedly postponed the UN Security Council resolution in the hopes of inserting language that would have allowed the United States to unilaterally interpret the level of compliance.) In addition, all three of these senators voted against the substitute amendment by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, which would have also granted President Bush authority to use force, but only if Iraq defied subsequent UN demands regarding the inspections process. Instead, they voted for the Republican-sponsored resolution to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing, regardless of whether inspectors returned.

More critically, when Bush launched the March 2003 invasion a full four months after large-scale weapons inspections had begun with no signs of any proscribed weapons or weapons facilities, Clinton, Biden and Kerry still argued that the invasion was necessary and lawful.

Biden defended the imminent launch of the invasion by saying, “I support the president. Diplomacy over avoiding war is dead. … I do not see any alternative. It is not as if we can back away now.” He added, “Let loose the dogs of war. I’m confident we will win.”

Meanwhile, when last we saw Moqtada and his massive man boobs (MOOBS), he was retreating from the political process in a huff, pulling a Greta Garbo, he just wanted to be alone.  Look who's back.  MEMO reports:

On Tuesday, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, agreed "to dialogue, if it is public, and in order to exclude all participants in the previous political and electoral processes."

Commenting on the briefing given by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Plasschaert, he said in a tweet, "With regard to the briefing by the UN representative, what she said caught my attention as she said the main reason for what is happening in Iraq is the corruption that everyone agrees exists."

"Indeed, this is very true and accurate, and the first step for gradual reform is the exclusion of the old faces, their parties and people from the next government in accordance with the aspirations of the rebellious people," noted Al-Sadr.

Moqtada ignores his own corruption, of course.  And he wants newbies because he's still hopeful that he could dominate the process.  He thought he could do that back in November as well.  That's what led to months and months of the political stalemate.  In case anyone forgot, the government should have been formed after the elections and the elections were October 10, 2021 -- we're four days short of a year since the elections and there is still no new prime minister, still no new president, still no cabinet.

Let's note this tweet:

On the day of the protests, we noted this was not Moqtada's protest.  This was The October Revolution which began in 2019.  But if you're still confused -- and a few e-mails are coming from confused people -- a protest that Moqtada was responsible for would not have slogans against Moqtada.  

It's a media failure because the US media largely ignored The October Revolution and only covers protests if Moqtada's involved.  But after a year or two, if you're still weighing in and getting wrong, I think you have to take some responsibility and not pin it all on the media.  Exactly how many times are you going to trust the US media on the topic of Iraq considering their well known history of lying the country into war?  Or are we still pretending it was all just Judith Miller?

Let's close with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

You know me, and I know you.”

Those words were spoken by president Joe Biden at the recent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference. No doubt he was purposefully evoking Congressman James Clyburn’s 2020 endorsement. Clyburn famously said , “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.” The identity of the other party in the first person plural was never stated, but was widely assumed to mean Black people. The oligarchs of the democratic party had chosen Biden and that meant Clyburn went along as well. He is not the king maker he is made out to be. Of course the importance of his endorsement extended beyond the South Carolina primary and was considered to be a stamp of approval for all of Black America.

The CBC hasn’t improved any since that time. The annual conference host is the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which this year secured a sponsorship from Amazon, the corporation whose warehouse workers suffer injuries at double the rates of counterparts at other companies. Amazon’s low pay and working conditions churn out low income workers so rapidly that in many places their warehouses have run out of people to hire. The behemoth corporation fought tooth and nail against a successful Black led unionizing drive at one of their warehouses in New York.

As always the CBC conference was sponsored by corporate giants such as Amazon, Coca Cola, Pepsico, Delta airlines, Bank of America, fossil fuel corporations Dominion Energy, BP, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, and big pharma corporations such as Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Ferring, and Bristol Meyers Squibb. It is no coincidence that Congressman Clyburn receives more campaign money from big pharma than any other member of the House of Representatives. As the House Whip he is unlikely to allow any legislation that his funders would not want to see realized.

Biden acted like the good white boss in his appearance, telling jokes about attending Howard University, bragging about appointing Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, “With the CBC, we invested an historic $5.8 billion dollars — that’s “B” with a — “B” — billion dollars…” He even told a story about the Voting Rights Act being passed when neither he nor CBC members seemed to be concerned about protecting it after SCOTUS made its most important provisions null and void. Biden bragged about Medicare negotiating drug prices but left out the fact that this won’t happen until 2026 and will apply to only ten drugs. Kingmaker Clyburn surely played a role in securing that outcome.

The Black political class is doing what it always does, serving as a prominent buffer class, and giving a pass to the democratic party. That is their most important function, not fighting for their constituents, but keeping their constituents in line by propping up Obama or Biden or any other democratic president while mouthing fake condemnation when republicans are in office.

If Biden is the good white boss who can tell jokes and get reliable laughs in return, he won’t be taken to task for giving Ukraine and the military industrial complex $80 billion. He won’t be asked about the failure of Build Back Better or why the majority Black city of Jackson, Mississippi has a failing infrastructure that doesn’t provide clean water.

The following sites updated:

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