Doodad Kind of Town

Good Stuff to Read and Watch
September 13, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Mike Leigh

There are two great kinds of lazy posts:

1) Video clips

2) Links to other good reading/viewing on the web

This is Lazy Post Type#2. It’s a day made to be lazy here in Chicagoland, with heavy, nonstop rain pouring down on us. (I’m not complaining, believe me; I’m happy to be far away from hurricane territory.) It’s the perfect day to stay in and slowly make my way through my always-overloaded DVR queue. I’ve already watched Fellini’s “I Vitteloni” this morning, and more is planned for later this afternoon. Meanwhile, take a look at:

1) Dennis Potter’s last interview at Ferdy on Films: The late great British television and film writer (“The Singing Detective,” “Pennies from Heaven” and others) gave a final interview in 1994 when he was in the throes of terminal cancer. Despite the immense pain he was obviously feeling, Potter gives an impassioned plea for responsibility and civility in the media and describes his both his early life and his last days with clear-eyed compassion. The entire interview can be seen in a series of 8 video clips here. Marilyn says that watching this interview could change your life; that might sound like hyperbole until you actually see it. Carve out 74 minutes of time this weekend and see for yourself.

2) Interview with Mike Leigh on Salon: (note, you may need to be a subscriber to read this): Salon’s controversial critic Stephanie Zacharek interviews one of my favorite directors about his latest film “Happy Go Lucky.” Leigh make some interesting, and rather trenchant observations about critics who have derided “Happy Go Lucky” for being too optimistic and light-hearted. If you weren’t already interested in seeing it, I predict you will be once you read this.

In a postscript to her interview (conducted at the Toronto Film Festival) Zacharek heralds the upcoming Ricky Gervais comedy “Ghost Town” as “both breezy and smart” and announces “There may be hope for romantic comedy yet…” Nice to hear, as I’m a fan of Gervais, but haven’t been convinced (based on the so-so trailer) that “Ghost Town” is worthy of his talents. Then again, it’s best to Zacharek with a grain of salt; she’s an often eccentric reviewer with skewed tastes (as this infamous piece on Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance in “There Will be Blood” demonstrates.)

3) Note to DeNiro and Pacino: Time to make better movies: This commentary at MSNBC about the sorry state of the careers of Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino isn’t particularly insightful, but it reinforces everything I already think about how far these two veteran actors have fallen. If further proof is needed, check out this clip from the David Letterman show. (Aha! Surprise -this is both kinds of lazy posts in one!) Neither of these guys seems to know how to deliver a punch line.

3 Comments so far
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I like Zacharek; if you don’t take risks in your reviews, then they don’t risk greatness …Besides, Jim Emerson at Scanners has said much the same thing about Day-Lewis’ performance.

Comment by Rick Olson

Have to say I absolutely love that lead photo!There’s going to be a month-long Mike Leigh retrospective here in October, which I believe is going to include a screening of Happy Go Lucky. I gotta go.

Comment by Daniel G.

Rick -I acutally like Zacharek, too – her reviews are certainly entertaining. But she has a bad reputation among many Salon readers as being contraraian just for the sake of being contrary. And sometimes I think she deserves it. Her smart-assed, dismissive review of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” comes to mind.Daniel -I used to have an orange tabby cat just like this one, and I once took a picture of her (which I’ve since sadly lost) sitting in front of a TV screen and watching “8 1/2” very intensely. That’s what this picture reminds me of. The Mike Leigh retrospective sounds great.

Comment by Pat

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