I’ll See You in…

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“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” – or so says an 11th century proverb. But does that mean there is no value at all to erring on the side of positivism and kindness? Hell, if I know.

What I think, as a former movie critic and perennial critique-er of all things pop… well, let’s just say ALL things – is that we all carp way too much and should or could be a hell of a lot nicer. Still, what fun is that???

GURLLLLL please!

GURLLLLL please!

Competitions, contests and best of trophies date back to ancient times when Roman warriors really did fight to the death – and for what? The thrill of the crowd? The spectacle of macho-ness? Under order of their Emperor? Well, perhaps it was all three. At the very least they must have gotten a cool trophy and some cash prizes. Or so one hopes.

Actually, as it turns out Roman Gladiators who were victorious did receive money for each win. As well as something called a laurel crown. And guess what, they also got saluted in public!

You know... Laurel crowns... those things hipster brides wear on Pinterest

You know… Laurel crowns… those things hipster brides wear on Pinterest

Of course, the top award, which was not given all the time, was a wooden sword. This meant a permanent pass discharging them from the obligation of fighting. Yes, that’s right. Back then competition was required. You couldn’t actually sit it out if you thought awards or the powers that be in your industry were dumb, stupid or both.

Question: Is that any different than today?

You did realize we were speaking about the Oscars, right? Because you might have thought we meant the presidential race, which no one seems to be sitting out – at least on the Republican side.

C'mon Chair... the wound is still raw!

Even the Chair forgot about me

Well, let’s leave politics alone for the moment and stick with show biz since the Oscars are little more than a week away and the results far less costly for the rest of us.

Of course, the Oscars are only the largest and most regal example of entertainment award-giving and therefore the easiest example. In actuality, this applies for everything from the Razzies to the Golden Globes, back to the Saturns, down to each and every DGA, WGA, SAG, CSA citation and on through a variety of earned or faux career/life honors that seems to occur at this time of year at each “A,” “B” or “C” list film festival across the country.

If you think awards are not a marketing tool then you either had the same childhood as I did — where you spent too much time staring at a screen and dreaming of holding one of those shiny objects in your hand, or at least wearing some sort of crown or tiara in front of the mirror – or you work for one of these organizations. This is not to say that any of these honors are absolutely unearned. Only that it’s no coincidence that they occur in clumps and often around either the release time or Oscar window for each recipient’s individual star bid that same year.

Are the Oscars nothing more than a contemporary version of a laurel crown? Sort of, yes. Not to mention, they do carry a cash prize. Ask any agent in town and they will tell you a nominee or winner’s asking price and in-demand quotient often doubles, triples or more in the immediate aftermath. Which doesn’t necessarily mean the awards, nominees, recipients or entire process deserves our unyielding criticism. In some ways, it’s just the opposite.

Or in some cases, they still get paid less. #PreachJLaw

Or in some cases, they still get paid less. #PreachJLaw

In gearing up for the annual notesfromachair Oscar predictions next week I began going over the list of nominated movies and reflecting on several other films I’ve seen in the past week. I’ve found fault with a lot of them but in all honestly – are any of them just, well…AWFUL?

I’ve snidely noted that Todd Haynes’ Carol was like watching paint dry over the same scene in a two-hour loop. I’ve also told people The Revenant had story holes and believability issues so big they could rival any speech or even small statement given by The Republican Apprentice (aka our likely 2016 Republican presidential nominee).

No comment

No comment

Today I wondered: Chair, who are you to judge? And why? You of all people know how unlikely it is to even be in a position to make either of those types of films – not to mention how rare to have them emerge with a few memorable scenes that elevate them to high profile status.

Then I began to ponder: Am I just getting soft in the fast-advancing global warming age?

Well, perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

I still stand by my recent comments to anyone who would listen about the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar, when I referred to them as the most withholding filmmakers of all time. This was for a narratively flawed movie that was so intent at denying any audience satisfaction or slight emotion that they couldn’t even give Channing Tatum a big finish to an otherwise fantastic MGM-styled musical dance number.

Not to mention that hair... #why

Not to mention that hair… #ohgawd

However, a far more intelligent friend of mine recently pointed out that maybe that IS their point – a critique of melodrama and emotionalism in American movies. Sure, it’s not my thing but, well, perhaps it’s yours. Or…someone’s? (Note: Okay, yes, that’s the best I can do right now).

Then this week I watched a really solid satisfying film written by another friend of mine about the rescued Chilean miners called The 33. It had been pulled so quickly from local theatres this fall that I missed it yet viewing it now I couldn’t help but wonder – why not more love at the time of its release? It’s action-packed, emotional and well told. Certainly more than anything Michael Bay’s done of late. Or ever.

hehe

hehe

Oops, there I go again. See how insidious this all is?

I guess the bottom line is you can be harsh and bitchy all you want but that doesn’t mean you’re 100% correct. You might actually only be 75% right. Which doesn’t mean I’m going to sit through Transformers 4 again anytime soon. But I will consider the possibility that Mr. Bay could indeed one day make a movie that I might not hate. Sort of. Which would be a huge leap of faith for me.

Ditto goes for this year’s Oscar contenders. Let’s all go on record that all eight films nominated for best picture aren’t garbage. In fact, all have elements that make them good enough to be there. Except…..   Yeah, even that one, I can see on the list.

I'll leave you to your imagination....

I’ll leave you to your imagination….

Though don’t take that to imply that I support the Republican Apprentice to be on any list except one of insanity. Actually, I take that back. I have been insane myself and know a few insane people I like very much – and I don’t care to insult them. True, I might be softening but that doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on all of my core values.

 

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Personality Test

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People say I have a pretty good personality but that doesn’t mean you should follow my lead on anything. Not to mention there are more moments than I care to admit where I would prefer to be called devastatingly handsome. In which case, you’d likely follow my lead on everything. At least initially.

It used to be a good personality was the kiss of death – the excuse you gave for the guy or gal you wanted to set your friend up with, that individual who wasn’t devastatingly handsome – or beautiful. Nowadays, personality accounts for quite a bit. Especially since it’s gotten easier and easier for anyone with even a tiny amount of money and taste to be at least good-looking.

awww thanks

awww thanks

You can work with a personal stylist at J. Crew or even at your neighborhood department store, for gosh sakes. And in 2014, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 15.6 million people in the U.S. had at least one cosmetic procedure. The top five minor ones: Botox (6.7 mil), soft tissue fillers (2.3 mil), chemical peels (1.2 mil), laser hair removal (1.1 mil) and microdermabrasion (882,000). Among full-on surgeries: breast augmentation (286,000), nose jobs (217,000), liposuction (211,000), eyelid work (207,000) and facelifts (128,000).

That’s right – facelifts were at the bottom of the list! So clearly, this is not a top 1% thing anymore.  If you combined every person who voted on both sides in both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries you couldn’t come close to covering the amount of individuals who had Botox two years ago.

.. and that even includes Melania!

.. and that even includes Melania!

So stop blaming this on Beverly Hills matrons and movie stars and the millionaires and billionaires who don’t live and eat next door to you. Well, next door to most of you. Since in Los Angeles you never know whom you’ll find on the other side of your door, or at least restaurant booth.

This is not to say that one cosmetic procedure will make you a fabulous physical specimen. But if done right, it can get you to move up a notch or two in the public eye. As to a desirable personality trait and the people who possess them, the results must be multiplied 100 fold.

Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again can-do bullying has made him the darling of the Republican primary fight. I don’t say this as a bitter Democrat.   I write it as an accurate reporter. He doubles the poll numbers nationally across the board among any of his party competitors.

Well if we're going to get superficial....

Well if we’re going to get superficial….

Bernie Sanders’ enough is enough anger at the millionaire and billionaire class has won over the hearts and minds of young voters 18-25 by a more than 3-1 margin among Dems along with his vision of equality across the classes. Forget Jack Kennedy or Bill Clinton. No one gives a damn about how he looks because his personality is total 2016. Trump probably does get some points on the physical side via his $5000 Brioni suits but let’s face it, the orange skin/spray tan/bronzer and undecipherable hair/weave/plug/torture cancels any possible superior body aesthetic right out.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton’s practical message of I’m a progressive who makes progress is not particularly alluring. I mean, who wants to make progress when you can fulfill a dream mixed with several dollops of anger. Not to mention, she always sounds angry, right? But that’s what happens when women shout. She was never so popular as when she was the beleaguered spouse whose husband had cheated on her. Or when she could simply be an Internet meme of the tireless Secretary of State in shades who had your back.

Good Ole Days

Good Ole Days

 

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican Apprentice’s closest competitor, is principally known as the one true religious conservative with constitutional common sense. Boy, is that a mouthful (and confusing). But how do I know this is true? Well, just this past week I got a note from him signed, Ted. Yes, I mean me – a gay, liberal Jew from New York who lives in Los Angeles and is in show business! Of course I knew you wouldn’t believe me. So – check this out!!

Get a load of this

Get a load of this

I’m not sure if it was my looks or personality that landed me on his hit list of potential fundraisers. But I have slept a whole lot better since personally bearing witness to the precisely targeted efforts of his personal fundraising team. Which begs the question of – how the hell did they get my name and address and what the hell were they thinking – or drinking???

Well, that’s what happens when you indulge too much on a single trait, or piece of evidence, or body part, or statement of a single human being. And, whatever it was, glitched the Cruz For President folks into believing I was worth their money (Note: They promised to match my $45 donation dollar for dollar) and effort. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous??????

For real

For real

It’s as ridiculous as 35% of Republican voters believing Mr. Trump would make a fine president. Or 75% of our millennial primary voters on the Democratic side convinced Sen. Sanders will be able to make good on the angry promises of the first real American Revolution since 1776 given what’s happening with the other 50% of the voters on the other side of aisle.

Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t born devastatingly handsome or irresistibly charismatic, but I find I’m more attracted to people, i.e. candidates and real life friends and lovers – who have dollops of both. Not to mention, a lot of other stuff. In fact, what I value most – aside from that secret desire for my own physical perfection – is an honest, down-to-earth practical person who is a bit of a dreamer. Someone with vision who is also a bit easy on the eyes. But not too easy. Because nothing worth having really is.

That’s not very 2016 but, well, as both Popeye and Zaza from La Cage Aux Folles once said and sang – I Am What I Am.