We have in the past examined my stunning and unforgettable cameo appearance in David Mamet's 1987 directorial debut feature "House of Games." What you may not know is that I also co-starred with Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Genevieve Bujold, Lori Singer, Joe Morton and Divine in Alan Rudolph's 1986 "Trouble in Mind," which was also shot in Seattle. Well, OK, I appeared in the background of a few shots. But I did share screen space with Singer ("Footloose," "Short Cuts") -- and Kristofferson, for at least a few 24 fps frames. As you can see above.
Here's the behind-the-scenes set-up: I was having the time of my life booking first-run "art films" at my friend Ann Browder's 250-seat Market Theater, formerly the Pike Place Cinema in the cobblestone Lower Post Alley in Seattle's historic Pike Place Farmer's Market. I can't remember how I had met Alan Rudolph, but I had interviewed him a few times and he had the world premiere his first film, "Welcome to L.A." (1977) in Seattle at the Harvard Exit Theater. (Robert Altman made one of his many trips to Seattle for that premiere, and hosted the world premiere of "3 Women" at the same theater.) "Choose Me" had also been a smash at the Seattle International Film Festival, of which I was a co-director/programmer. Anyway, this all comes together, trust me...
Here's a question for you: Can a movie ruin a good review? Conversely, can a review actually improve upon a movie? Sure, good criticism (whether positive or negative) should encourage you to see a film in new ways you may not have recognized before. Just as cinema itself is a way of looking at the world through someone else's eyes, criticism is a way of looking at movies through someone else's eyes. Yet, the movies themselves don't change -- only our perceptions of them (we'll put aside William Friedkin's "French Connection" Blu-ray for the moment). On the one hand, a piece of film criticism is kind of like an adaptation. It offers an interpretation of the original, but does not replace it. Other "versions" still exist, just as they always did.
I can think of several examples of criticism that I think is superior to the work being criticized, in the sense that the critic is writing about an idealized version of what's on the screen -- the movie we might wish was on the screen, rather than (or in addition to) the one that's actually there. A clarification: This has nothing to do with whether the critic is divining the filmmaker's intentions or not. It has everything to do with what the critic is seeing in, and getting out of, the film.
"You're gonna think this is crazy," Cliff Robertson was saying, "but I think the Libertarian Party has the right idea. There ought to be a place on the ballot where you could vote for None of the Above. Then maybe in November the parties would have to go back and nominate somebody else . . ." He grinned wickedly at the notion. This was the other night at O'Rourke's, where he's settled into the corner of a booth after a flight from San Francisco. He was in town to talk about his new movie, "Obsession," but the conversation turned into a debriefing about the Democratic primaries. Here it was August and he was STILL for Mo Udall.
LONDON - There's a photograph of Irene Papas in the files of The Sun-Times, taken when she arrived in Hollywood in the 1950s. It's a typical publicity picture, sort of modified cheesecake; she's sitting on a trunk with her legs crossed and the handout says something about a Greek starlet arriving to star in the new Cagney picture.