Just Getting Started
Just Getting Started never really gets going. It only kept me thinking, “Is this ever just going to finish?”
My first memory, when I heard that David Bradley was dead, was of him drop-kicking a footstool across the living room. Bradley, 77, who died Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, was one of the legendary eccentrics of the film world, irascible and beloved. He launched the career of Charlton Heston, amassed one of the great private film archives and toasted the survivors of silent films at his legendary New Year's Day parties.
LOS ANGELES -- I walked in to talk to Pam Grier with these words of Quentin Tarantino fresh in my mind:
LOS ANGELES Has any other movie director become this famous after making only two movies? Well, yes - Orson Welles. But Welles was already a star when he went to Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino came out of next to nowhere and became famous because he made two of the most influential movies of the past five years, and because . . . well, because he tickles people.
There is a kind of shyness, a modesty, about Francis Ford Coppola that is so surprising. Here is the director of "The Godfather," and the epic "Apocalypse Now," and the paranoid psychodrama "The Conversation," and he talks about whether he has the right to put his name above the title. Kids out of film school put their names on their first films, and here he is explaining why his movies are called "Mario Puzo's The Godfather" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "John Grisham's The Rainmaker."
She is the queen of the British period pictures, the forceful heroine with the flashing eyes and the knack of looking as if she's worn those costumes all her life. Helena Bonham Carter has played Lady Jane Grey and Ophelia, and the heroines of Forster's "Room With a View" and "Howard's End," and the evil doctor's lover in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," and Olivia in "Twelfth Night," and if she somehow missed starring in one of the Jane Austen adaptations, now here she is as Kate Croy, a woman prepared to loan out the man she loves, in Henry James' "The Wings of the Dove."
There has been no more assured and powerful film debut this year than "Eve's Bayou," the first film by Kasi Lemmons. Reviewers have compared it to work by Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers and other Southern Gothic writers; it reminded me of a family drama by Ingmar Bergman. It's made of memories that still have the power to wound. Its shadows contain secrets that will always hurt.
Paul Thomas Anderson has made perhaps the best film of 1997, and at age 27 is getting the kind of attention no young director has had since Quentin Tarantino erupted. His "Boogie Nights," which follows a cast of colorful characters through six eventful years in the adult film industry, is the year's best-reviewed film - a hit at the Toronto and New York film festivals - and is now opening around the country.
From the revolutionary visual strategies of his first film, "Breathless" (1960), to his recent experiments with video, the French director Jean-Luc Godard has been on the cutting edge of cinema. The Music Box revival of a restored version of his "Contempt" (1963) is an occasion to review some of the landmarks in his career.
Bye, bye, Mister American Pie.
In 1982, on Robert Mitchum's 65th birthday, I visited the set where he was making "That Championship Season," one of his 125 movies. I waited in the shadows, just watching, as he lit a Pall Mall and blew out smoke and looked bored and weary. Then it was time to shoot the scene, and something stirred inside that sleepy-eyed, angular frame, and found magic in the dialog. And I made this note to myself: