Thursday, February 20, 2014

Warren Beatty Did Charlie Rose Show 16 Years Ago....Here is What We Can Get From This Interview Today

Everyone who loves to watch films should probably have a favorite actor. Warren Beatty is mine.  I find he has two distinctive film personas: the cad (Roman Springs of Mrs Stone, Shampoo, All Fall Down), the dreamer (Heaven Can Wait, Reds) and a mixture of both (Bugsy). And with those personas he has done more than any great actor could hope to and with less movies: 22 films in 53 years.

It is somewhat heartbreaking to be a Beatty fan mostly because he has not done a film in 14 years. He has been raising kids and turning down projects.

He is 76 now!!

I purchased the Charlie Rose interview from 1998 from amazon because I could not find it elsewhere. The interview was made to promote Bulworth. Beatty mentions filming Town and Country so basically the interview covers everything but his inactivity. He talks about not liking to work and how children bring one into a present tense that is life altering and incredible so the inactivity is kind of promised at this time. There is much that can be gleamed from this interview.
Rose states at one point, "You have for many years been a passing reference on this program." Rose is a huge Beatty fan and has probably read the necessary Beatty books, including Desert Eyes by David Thomson.  Rose states that Beatty is most known for "his charm, his perfectionism and his late night phone calls." And that seems accurate.
The cad persona does not come out in the interview. He is a man who admires most his mother and father and his wife. Though Rose is very interested in Beatty's past with women, Beatty deflects most of those questions as he has been married for a while even in 1998.
Bulworth is discussed at length. A clip of Norman Mailer praising it to the skies is shown. I get the feeling Rose had not seen it because the interview questions are very general. As with in that film, the country moving toward uncertainty. Clinton was on his way out. Bush was coming. The film supposes an truthful leader taken with the black community and who thought socialized medicine was one way to serve societies ills. A decade later:
There is perhaps something to be desired here. Obama has said though that he needs to "go Bulworth" in his second term, not sure it has happened yet. He also talks of the marginallized poor that would later become the tea party. The funniest thing he says in regards to Bulworth and specifically the rap in that film. He says,
"The people that listen to rap music are getting older, maybe not so much my age."
The interviews end with a reference to Beatty's Howard Hughes project, a rumored project since the early 1970s.  Beatty says at some point "I will make it."
And reports suggest he is making it now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To My Friend William Bunker....All is Lost

My fiancee bought me All is Lost on Valentine's Day. I was sad because 4 days earlier, I had lost my best friend, William Bunker.

I am a pretty good friend, and he was a great one. I talked to him almost everyday on my walk to work and my walk home. I don't make calls on those walks anymore and I feel a bit of sadness everyday.

I am not even sure how to delete his number from my phone and am not sure I would even want to because it is a reminder of the great conversations though also a reminder that that kind of conversing may be over in my life.

We talked politics, everything from Bush to Plato's Republic. We talked music, particularly jazz.

We talked women and romantic schemes. He was quite old (75 when he passed), but I did not want to see him end up alone. It did not seem right as he had always had the confidence to pick up woman and knew a vast array of things.  He tod me about the law of averages, ask 100 girls out and at least one would say yes. Statistics, though, don't account for the lovely wife that passed a decade and a half before he did. He really cared for her, sometimes a tear would come to his eye in coversation, and he would remark, Man I miss my wife.

We talked a lot about movies. My obsession is Warren Beatty. His was Clint Eastwood. He was always quick to defend an Eastwood picture, claiming even Trouble With the Curb was a masterpiece.  But he was an enthusiastic audience, and that is a great thing. Movie houses and movie makers deserve no less.

I remember taking him to Transylmania, one of the dumbest comedies I have seen and we laughed all the way through.

Sadly, did not go to the cinema much with him, wish I had a little more. He tended to talk through pictures with got on my nerves sometimes.

Even the greatest people have qualities that can piss you off.

The last film he saw in a theater was All is Lost. He liked Redford's rugged, solitary figure almost as much as he liked Eastwood, and that character is probably best displayed in All is Lost, even more so than Downhill Racer or Jeremiah Johnson.

A good man with some things to atone for is on a sinking ship.

We know little about the man, but we care.  His troubles are immediate though the film has a deliberate pace. Many tragedies happen over  the course of days and within them we have a lot of time to think on them.

One thing not deliberately paced though is the storm sequence.

We can marvel that a man of Redford's age could be tossed around in tanks and under extreme conditions. It is a tremendous form of acting that he pulls off here. He toughs out everything ends up on a raft. He is not a perfect sailor. He manages to surivive for eight days.  The ending is ambigous. He seems as though he is about to end his life. He looks to the skies and jumps in the water. A small boat comes up and reaches in for him. This seems ambigous because the rescue boat seems too small. The hand that grabs him in the water seems too far in the water. 
I thought maybe he had died, and the hand of God came to grab him. I am no more a believer than William Bunker. He was an athiest of the highest order. He rejected my ending idea. He said the boat was fine sizewize and Redford was coming out enough to be grabbed .He added that he survived because it was a great hopeful ending. 
I, however, found some hope in the idea that God came to reach for him. And with my friend gone, I find this idea more hopeful than ever.
 I am not sure when my pal will be buried. His family is having a private memorial, and since I have never met his family, I am not invited. I wrote a eulogy and would like to share it here:
Bill was my best friend. We spoke almost every day.
The worst thing I could say about him was that he talked during movies
But at least he talked intelligently about them, point out, for instance,
scientific inconsistencies about Alien vs Predator.
I met him at Modesto Junior College where intellect is in short supply.
He was made for late in life education. He could argue well with teachers
and flirt with pretty freshmen, claiming, like Jack Benny used to, he
was only 45.
I knew he was not 45 but only because he made the mistake of showing
me his transcripts once that had his date of birth on them. Earlier this week,
I googled him and the site come up claiming he was ten years
younger than he was. He would have loved that.
After college, he was the one intellectual aspect of it I kept in my life.
I was in awe of him sometimes and honestly thought all the stuff he wanted to be
teacher, spaceman, cowboy was possible for him.
I think the best thing you can say about a person is that they seemed capable
of anything. Bill seemed capable of anything. I will miss him everyday.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Harry Basil Short Interview

In November of 2011, Harry Basil was nice enough to answer some film questions for me.
I did not, until now, have a place to showcase this interview, hope you all enjoy. Harry Basil was a comedian and best friend of Mr Rodney Dangerfield. He wrote some Dangerfield films and shows (Wally Sparks,  My 5 Wives, The 75th Anniversary Toast) before directing the last of the Dangerfield vehicles (Back by Midnight, The 4th Tenor) and doing an admirable job.

He later directed what may be the last high concept Burt Reynolds vehicle we will ever see (Cloud 9)and a few horror films. I sent him these questions on Facebook and he gave me a long response. I tried to break up the response to match the questions as best I could. One question that was not really addressed in his response was the following (  I notice in your films with Dangerfield you skew etablishments stuffy political families, uptight religious folks, the world of opera, but unlike in earlier films, Dangerfield makes more fun of himself and his failings. Wives is about Dangerfield not being able to satisy all his women. Was this shift a conscession to age?

Dennis Brian  Who came up with the idea of The 4th Tenor?

Harry Basil  Yeah, Rodney was awesome. He would have been 90 this week. Nov 22nd. The 4th Tenor was Rodney's idea. He was a singing waiter when he was young. We wrote it together right before we did Ladybugs in 92. Took 10 years to make it. Rodney financed it himself. It was his pet project. Too bad he was a bit too old to play the romantic lead by the time we did it.

Dennis Brian  My favorite film of yours and Dangerfield's is Back by Midnight. I think it is just pure fun. My only question is do you have any Nell Carter stories? I love her and think she was underused in Hollywood.

Harry Basil   Back By Midnight was fun to make. It was a bit cheesy and corny, but Rodney and I got to work with a lot of our comedian buddies. He was getting a bit frail on that one. Nell Carter was very funny. It was one of the last things she did. I had actually worked with her back in 1986, I starred in a TV pilot that was a spin off of her show Gimmie A Break. She was kind of mean and bossy back then. But on BBM she was sweet and a lot of fun. She Rodney and Tony Cox worked great together in one scene. I think it was Rondey's best scene in the movie, comedically.

Dennis Brian  I think you are the last person to make Burt Reynolds a movie star again. He had not been that charming since Breaking In. You seemed very attuned to his charisma, how did you achieve that when few others have in the last three decades?

Harry Basil  Burt was a blast to work with. I've been a huge fan since I was a kid. Our producer and co-writer on Cloud 9 was Albert S. Ruddy. Al produced The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby, which he's won 2 Oscars for. Al also wrote and produced the Original Longest Yard and the Cannonball Run movies. So Al was best friends with Burt and wrote the movie for Burt.

Thanks for answering those questions a few years back Mr Basil.