We're going to be honest about this: We sat through David Mamet's Phil Spector last night for the hair and only for the hair. And so did you. (People who might argue, disingenuously, with this assertion: David Mamet fans, Al Pacino fans, blood-spatter-forensics fans, who were in for a giant treat.)
But if you didn't watch it — probably because you were watching The Walking Dead, a show whose hair-design value is questionable at best — here are Spector’s most thrilling wig moments, presented more or less chronologically and without commentary. (Well, that's not entirely true: Each meticulously realized hairpiece is itself an incisive commentary on eccentric menace, written in volumizer and keratin.)
In the Sundance heyday of the late ’90s, the ubiquity of Steve Buscemi was something that hip people — the sorts who knew his name and how to spell it, as opposed to the casual moviegoers who just felt a twitch of happy recognition at the appearance of that magnificently puffy gaze with its implication of a hangover (not merely enduring, but existential) — joked about over post-cinematheque maki rolls:
“Is it even possible to get an ‘art’ film green-lit without Steve Buscemi? It’s like there’s a secret law in the Hollywood Rule Book, the ‘Buscemi Proviso,’ which decrees that every script has to include a role for him. Dude is everywhere.”
“A theory, chum: Steve Buscemi is the physical embodiment of the green light. He's the human cigar that gets fired when the foreign financing drops into place.”
What was, and is, so annoying about such smug talk is that it trivializes the greatness of the most memorable, unconventionally charismatic, and intelligent character actor at work in film and television today. He's been funny (Reservoir Dogs) and he's been acerbic (Ghost World). In The Sopranos, as the trying-to-be-good Tony Blundetto, his portrayal of recidivism was as brilliant as it was upsetting. With his lead role as Atlantic City gangster Nucky Thompson (Boardwalk Empire), Buscemi has emerged as an antihero for the ages, noble and wicked and cool, and proved that he truly can play anything, even a star. And who else has appeared in so many Adam Sandler films (Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, et al.) and escaped unscathed? Steve Buscemi is the little black dress of cinema, appropriate for any occasion.
"The melancholy of the blues and the immediacy of jazz his characters are hard-hearted and hardheaded, so I thought Women can do that." That was how critic and curator of the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series Elvis Mitchell wryly described David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross before introducing the conceit of last night's Live Read. Mamet's terse, rhythmic story tracks four real estate salesmen (and scam artists) desperately working through the night on the eve of a robbery. The Live Read, a semi-regular event at LACMA, is a quiet, clever, only-in-L.A. happening where the city's access to celebrity and artists is actually used for good. Here's the layout: Typically, Film Independent's artist-in-residence and director, Jason Reitman, reads the stage direction, a screen behind the cast projects scenes from the movie but with the characters erased from the mise-en-scène, and the cast simply read from scripts placed in front of them on easels. Mitchell's idea, shepherded and executed by Reitman, was to subvert the sulking machismo and grandiloquent gutter talk of Mamet's characters with a gender swap. It basically worked in that way, but mostly because the cast Reitman assembled was a shockingly accurate rebuttal to the 1992 film adaptation directed by James Foley. Here was the lineup:
On a certain level, this whole Al Pacino as Phil Spector thing could have ended with this one indelible, delectable image right here: Helen Mirren, doing her best not to audibly grumble out, "WTF, didn't I win an Oscar, like, six years ago"; then a couple of blurry, anonymous extras, lucking out into a Facebook-profile-photo-for-life; and, finally, Pacino, in all his pucker-faced, late-stage, "no fucks given" mania, rocking that mad-man Spector ’fro-wig like he was born to do it.
And if HBO had then said, after releasing this still, "OK, we've all had our chuckles, but this has gone far enough," could you have really blamed them? But no! Pushing boldly forward, they've actually shot and edited this thing, and will, on March 24, present it in full. Phil Spector was written and directed by David Mamet and produced by Barry Levinson, but, truly, the only thing you need to know: It stars Al Pacino, letting himself foam at the mouth with great glee and delight ("I've played this game a million times before! I know how the game is PLAYED!!!”) and, at least according to this trailer, it appears to be sporting an average of one nutso Spector wig per scene. Enjoy!
It's actually happening: Deadline reports that Al Pacino will play Joe Paterno in Brian De Palma's Happy Valley, a project Pacino had been attached to since September. Joe Posnanski's Paterno has been optioned for the project, and Dave McKenna — whose credits include American History X and Blow, but also S.W.A.T. and a video game called Scarface: The World Is Yours (whaaat? This dude is amazing) — is writing the screenplay.
With the possible exception of Salman Rushdie, no one lived life in hiding as publicly as Henry Hill, who beat the odds on Tuesday by dying, in a hospital, at 69, of a long illness. It was (probably) a lifetime of smoking that did him in, not a hot-lead overdose or an ice-pick to the endocranium, so he won, kind of.
Sixty-nine is old for a Mob turncoat expelled from federal witness protection for all manner of criminal backsliding. But it's fairly young for a celebrity, and that's what Henry Hill was when he died — a celebrity, in that a celebrity is almost always a chimera of fictional character and actual human being.
Holy Effing Ess!!! It is only four days until the 2012 Golden Raspberry nominations are released in Hollywood, California! Even as we write, Head RAZZberry John Wilson is collecting ballots (including our own!) and tallying votes for the world’s greatest and most important awards show. You know what that means: It’s time for our final predictions.
A lot has changed since we made our first forecast way back in July. Back then we had a bottom five of The Hangover Part II, Jack and Jill, Real Steel, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, and Zookeeper — but at that point, only two of those movies had even come out. How many of those stinkers made it into our final predictions? Read on and see!
Alternate-movie-history fanatics (and Patton Oswalt fans) know that Nick Nolte came close to getting cast as Han Solo in Star Wars; yesterday the excellent Saucerful of Cobras Tumblr reminded us that Nolte was apparently short-listed for Harrison Ford's part in Blade Runner, too. (Along with Dustin Hoffman, Peter Falk, Al Pacino and... wait for it... BURT REYNOLDS.) Aw, hell. We've moved Blade Runner: The Nolte Cut to the top of our Alternate-Universe Netflix Queue-- consider yourself bumped, hypothetical version of The Shining where Robin Williams plays the Nicholson part! [Saucerful of Cobras]
Well, Razzie lovers, things just got interesting, didn’t they?
All year, we’ve been disappointed by the movies we thought might be Razzie contenders. Transformers: Dark of the Moon? Coulda been worse. Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Frustratingly good. J. Edgar? Despised by some, not all. It’s enough to make veteran Razzie gurus like ourselves throw their hands to the sky and cry, “Why? Why must we suffer so? For God’s sake, can’t someone in Hollywood make a shitty movie that everyone hates?”
Riding a tsunami of critical disapproval into theaters this weekend is Jack and Jill, in which Adam Sandler stars as twin siblings of both sexes. Predictably, Sandler's performances have gone unheralded by critics. Al Pacino, though — who plays an exaggerated version of himself who falls in love with Jill while being wooed by ad executive Jack to star in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial — has really distinguished himself. In fact, these are probably Pacino's best reviews in a decade. Below, a sampling of the acclaim.
Or, rather, will it be a supporting vampire, or a supporting werewolf? With its plentiful stock of wolfcake and bloodsuckers, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is a bonanza for a category that’s often among the Razzies’ most predictable. Due to a fluke of scheduling, though, the name-brand Supporting Actors the Razzies typically love — Burt Reynolds, Marlon Wayans, Verne Troyer, Jon Voight, and (of course) Rob Schneider — have zero movies due to be released in 2011. That means some fresh Razzie meat come January 23!
Will Jackson Rathbone follow up his shocking Razzie win last year with another nomination? Might Taylor Lautner have better luck in Supporting Actor than he did in Worst Actor last year, when he lost to Ashton Kutcher? What about Kellan Lutz as vampire Emmett, the most bloodless of the bunch? Or Michael Sheen as Aro, who seems prepared to devour the scenery like so many shrieking coeds? Or Jamie Campbell Bower, who … uh … we can’t remember who “Caius” is. At any rate, they’re all front-runners, so let’s put them there.
It’s hard to believe 2011 is already half gone! It seems like just yesterday that the cold of winter had descended upon us as we celebrated The Last Airbender and its five Razzie wins. But now we’ve finished off our Fourth of July hot dogs and legally purchased fireworks, and just as all the finest Oscar blogs are rolling out their early-bird 2011 predictions, so too is it time for RazzieWatch to step out on a limb and make some bold guesses. Which films will achieve Razzie glory come January 23?
In the coming weeks we’ll predict the acting awards and other categories. But today we'll start with the big kahuna: Worst Picture!