Thursday, July 22, 2004

"We've got to make a movie where on the way out of the theater people are going to ask the ushers if they have any torches."
       That's Michael Moore in an interview in the latest "Film Comment". It's a good piece, one of the few in the dozens of recent pieces on Moore that actually deals with his work from a cinematic perspective rather than concentrate solely on the controversy and the attacks surrounding Fahrenheit 9/11. It's not on the FC website, but they have posted some excerpts that didn't make it into print. You can also read Kent Jones' review online here.
Also in the latest FC: articles on Jacques Tati, Kill Bill, and documentaries about making movies (Burden of Dreams, American Movie, Lost in La Mancha, etc).  But alas, nothing's perfect; they've also brought back the "Guilty Pleasures" column with a contribution from Joan Rivers, of all people. 
     It's ironic that Film Comment's last interview with Moore, a notably hostile piece that appeared in 1989 at time of Roger and Me, is rumored to have been one of the things responsible for ousting then-editor Harlan Jacobson, thus indirectly contributing to the magazine's gradual and uneven improvement over the last fourteen years. I' ve been buying FC since 1976 (only missing one issue in that time). but in the 1980s it had become nearly unreadable.
     Which makes another small item in the current issue an ironic sign of change. A passing reference to James Toback's Fingers in the "Opening Shots" column calls it "Toback's only watchable film". That might be true, but it's quite a step away from the days when FC allowed film critic/novelist/habitual name-dropper David Thomson ramble on about nothing in particular in almost every issue, many of his pieces little more than extended love-letters and press releases to and on behalf of the director of Exposed.
Incidentally, my favorite Thomson moment had nothing to do with Toback or even with his endless references to his friendships with Toback, Warren Beatty, Buck Henry and others. Here's an excerpt from a 1982 interview with Goldie Hawn.

* * *

You swept your hair back off your face just now, and you have lovely hair. But when your hair goes back you look less pretty and stronger. Your eyes get older.
That's why these hairdressers are making a fortune of money.
But don't they do what you want them to do?
Some do, some don't. What I'm saying is that people want to look a certain way, so they have their hair done a certain way. I'm not somebody who's liked the hair off my face. I don't think it's becoming. And I must admit I like to look as nice as I can. But for a film I'd do it. But, you know, right now we're in a meeting, and why would one arbitrarily put one's hair up if you don't think you would look nice?
You must have sat for hours in front of a mirror experimenting as a child. I didn't tell you anything about your hair you didn't know already.

* * *
Could Bruno from the Ali G. show have done any better?

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