State and Main

I watched the Vincent Minnelli film “The Cobweb.” It was not one of his masterpieces. Richard Widmark was a psychiatrist putting in too many hours working on his patients. His manner reminded me of Frank Sinatra. Gloria Grahame was his wife, frustrated by his lack of attention to their marriage. Gloria couldn’t move her upper lip, affecting her pronunciation of words. This was one of the few movies in color that I’ve seen her in. Lauren Bacall was around as a love interest. She was a good movie star in a weak story. Lillian Gish was around, looking pretty old, even though she still be in “The Whales of August” more than thirty years later. What is there to say about this movie? It was supposed to be based on a best seller, but the plot was ridiculous, centered on a conflict about drapes. It makes you wonder about the books people were reading in years past. Minnelli does show some of that skill in using the wide screen. The staff of this institution seemed just as disturbed as the patients. It was a bit like George C. Scott in “The Hospital.” I watched Anthony Mason and Vinita Nair on CBS This Morning. They did talk about Joe Cocker briefly. I went to work for a short shift. I was just glad to leave. I had waffles and went out to the bus stop. I went to the Grand Lake Theater for “The Hobbit” again. I paid a little more attention to Evangeline this time. The audience didn’t react to the humor this time. I heard on the radio that “The Interview” would be shown at some independent theatres on Christmas Day, including one theatre in my neighborhood. I’d like to see it on Monday if I can. Back at home, I watched a DVD of David Mamet’s “State and Main.” It was about the making of a movie in a small town in Vermont. You could say that it was Mamet’s version of “Day for Night.” One of the key actors was William H. Macy as the director. I thought he was a very fine actor, and he was very amusing in this part. Another key person was Philip Seymour Hoffman as the screenwriter. For some reason, he still used a typewriter. Hoffman looked young and skinny, but with less character than in his last years. Alec Baldwin was the star of the film, getting into trouble from his pursuit of young women. Sarah Jessica Parker was the leading lady who didn’t want to do a nude scene. I could never look at her as a real movie star after “Sex and the City.” Most of the humor was about trying to deal with the town, which turned out not to have the crucial mill that it was thought to have, and the cast, with its self-absorbed actors. Baldwin and Hoffman get involved with a couple of the local women. Julia Stiles is one of the locals. The other woman reminded me of Janine Turner of “Northern Exposure,” for some reason. The funniest moment of the movie is when we learn about Sarah Jessica Parker’s character at the end. I thought she behaved like Sarah Silverman earlier. There was another amusing bit that involved product placement. I wouldn’t say that this was an essential movie. With Philip Seymour Hoffman in it, I was confusing it with something Charlie Kaufman wrote. Charles Durning was another notable actor in the cast. He was the mayor of the town. I watched this movie because I didn’t pay attention to it the first time I saw it, on VHS. What I was really paying attention to this time was Philip Seymour Hoffman. He looked so different in this movie, like he was in a better period of his life. I liked the Philip Seymour Hoffman of “Boogie Nights” and “The Big Lebowski” more than the Philip Seymour Hoffman of “The Master” and “The Hunger Games.” I figured I should give the movie a fair chance by seeing it again a second time after all these years. Mamet was doing too much with both the writing and the directing. I suspected that something was wrong with him when his marriage to Lindsay Crouse failed. Alec Baldwin’s character was such a jackass. Before his television years, I liked him in “Beetlejuice” and not much else. I wondered if many people would come around to see “The Interview.” Would people rush to the theatre because of the notoriety of the movie in the media? Am I going to safe going to see this movie? Jeffrey Lyons said that he didn’t like the movie, but it should be made available to us. I hope there aren’t any violent incidents before I get to the theatre. The sports news showed us that the Warriors lost to the Lakers, who were without Kobe Bryant. I watched a Letterman rerun showing the new Christmas toys and Anna Kendrick. One of those bubbles burst very easily. I couldn’t imagine where it would be safe to play with the bow and arrow set. Marion Cotillard was a guest on Craig Ferguson’s show. I liked seeing her in “Public Enemies” and “Anchorman 2.” Craig told her that his state of mind after drinking alcohol was like a Jackson Pollock painting. It seemed that they were running out of things to talk about towards the end of the interview. I didn’t realize that there was a full hour of Night Gallery from one to two. I saw someone in a gorilla suit in the first half hour. A lesson is that you should never turn your back to an animal. What followed was a short, humorous bit with vampire hunters. The attempts at humor on this show hardly ever worked. “I Do Not Belong to the Human World” was the second half hour. They talked about something called automatic writing. I wanted to go out to a couple of stores on Christmas Eve. I was glad that I had a payday to cover January’s rent. Some of the people who died on December 24 include John Muir (1914), Bernard Herrmann (1975), Peter Lawford (1984), James Komack (1997), Toshiro Mifune (1997), and Oscar Peterson (2007). Today is a birthday for Lee Daniels (55) and Mary Higgins Clark (85). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for December 24, The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was the Number One single in 1961. In 1965, The Beatles earned a gold record for their “Rubber Soul” album. In 1973, Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers was arrested for possession of marijuana. In 1990, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married.

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