Category Archives: Dustin Hoffman

Hot Air

Plastics

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. 

Benjamin Braddock: Yes, sir. 

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? 

Benjamin: Yes, I am. 

Mr. McGuire: Plastics. 

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

From "The Graduate"

One Word, Benjamin

And so went perhaps the most famous exchange between characters in a Mike Nichols movie — or, for that matter, any movie made in the 1960s. The Graduate shot Nichols into the Hollywood firmament in 1967. It was his second directorial effort, following some pretty good success the  year before with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

In The Graduate, he took an absolute unknown, Dustin Hoffman, who was short, whose look screamed his Jewishness, and who had a honker of monumental proportions, and turned him into the object of a bored, spectacularly gorgeous suburban housewife’s desires. “Mrs. Robinson,” he blurts to Anne Bancroft, reclining alluringly on her bed, “you’re trying to seduce me.”

“Huh?” she says, chuckling.

“Aren’t you?”

She was.

As much as The Wild Bunch, and Rebel Without a Cause in the 1950s, The Graduate defined the new, post-WWII youth generation. Youth — the word itself became almost a brand. Almost? Hah! Youth culture was sold like jeans, record albums, Pepsi, and sex — all of which which were inextricably tied in with the young.

The Graduate, when all was said and done, was about pointless, directionless rebellion. Revolution, as Abbie Hoffman once shouted, for the hell of it. Well, a mild revolution. A revolution waged from the safety of the revolutionaries’ backyards.

Adults were hypocritical, shallow, materialistic, hyper-status conscious, and, well, bad guys. The young were disaffected, alienated, and somehow aware of the over-30 generation’s sanctimonious affectations. Only they became so aware while lounging in the sunken swimming pools their parents had built for them.

Mike Nichols’ The Graduate was a work of genius. Not too surprising, considering he came from the star nursery that eventually became known as The Second City.

A bunch of then-current and former University of Chicago students and hangers-on started the Compass Players in Chi-town’s Hyde Park neighborhood in the mid-’50s. The Compass gang, including David Shepherd, Del Close, Paul Sills, Shelley Berman, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, and others, performed improvised commedia dell’arte skits at a local bar called The Compass. Nichols joined the group and met Elaine May there. The two quickly became lovers and co-performers. They formed a duo act and rocketed to fame far beyond that of the rest of the Compass people at the time. As the Compass Players morphed into The Second City in 1958, Nichols and May struck out on their own, eventually performing on Broadway together in “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” and winning a 1962 Grammy award for Best Comedy Album.

Nichols/May

Nichols & May

Nichols has given us so much comedy — just check out his IMDb page — that he can be forgiven for marrying former Richard Nixon speechwriter Diane Sawyer.

One more thing. The final scene of The Graduate, as much else from the movie, has become iconic. The story goes that nobody knew how the movie would end. Nichols directed Hoffman and Katherine Ross to run out of the church where Ross’s character — coincidentally (or not) named Elaine — had left her fiancé at the altar. The two were to run down the street and eventually board a city bus. They dashed to the rear of the bus and plopped down, out of breath and sweaty, she still in her wedding dress and veil. Hoffman and Ross thought the shot of them, huffing and puffing, would be a brief one and they anticipated there would be another, closing shot.

Instead, Nichols instructed his cameraman to keep shooting. Hoffman and Ross sat in the back of the bus, wondering when they’d hear the word “Cut!” It wasn’t to come for long moments. The actors, puzzled, remained half in-character and half out of it, glancing around, the bafflement beginning to cloud their faces.

Only then did Nichols yell “Cut.” The scene was perfect. Nichols knew that the couple had no idea where they were going nor what they’d do when they got there. The quizzical looks that crossed their faces conveyed it better than anything they could have ever conjured as actors.

Who’s Next

Judging by my unscientific, non-comprehesive, seat-of-the-pants survey of some of Bloomington’s most plugged-in citizens, this town’s next mayor may either be John Whikehart, former Ivy Tech-Bloomington chancellor and current deputy mayor under outgoing boss Mark Kruzan, or City Council member Darryl Neher.

This despite the fact that Whikehart is 65 years old and hasn’t made any public utterances about wanting the job.

One or two have even implied that Whikehart was brought into city government for the express purpose of succeeding Kruzan. This conspiracy theory has it that Kruzan knew he’d be getting out before being chased out, especially after the downtown parking meters hoo-ha, and wanted a trusted lieutenant to carry on after him.

Neher, on the other hand, seems a far more likely challenger for the throne.

See for yourself whose names are being bandied about:

Neher

Darryl Neher

Bloomington City Council, District. V. The smart money is on Neher to run.

Ruff

Andy Ruff

Bloomington City Council, At Large. Another great bet to run, at least acc’d’g to knowledgeable observers.

Whikehart

John Whikehart

Bloomington Deputy Mayor, former chancellor of Ivy Tech-Blooomington.

Hamilton

John Hamilton

Ran against Kruzan in the 2011 Democratic primary. A risky bet — a good authority whispered into my ear a year ago that he’s not interested in running anymore. Then again he won’t have to run against Kruzan this time. Hmm.

Yoder

Shelli Yoder

A good bet to run. She’s ambitious and, presumably, looking for a job with a higher profile than that of her current gig as 1st District representative on the Monroe County Council, the better to leapfrog into the US Congress seat she really wants.

Volan

Steve Volan

Bloomington City Council, District VI. Don’t waste your dough on this bet. Tall Steve already has gone on the record saying he won’t run.

Some half a dozen other names have been floated as well. None of them is worth mentioning here. Note no Republicans have been mentioned. This is Bloomington — duh.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Acting is a nice childish profession — pretending you’re someone else and, at the same time, selling yourself.” — Katharine Hepburn

IMMORTAL

Quickie rec: David “Sonny” Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks speaks at the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union at 7pm.

He’s the son of Henrietta Lacks, who was the subject of Rebecca Skloot’s bestseller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The story of Lacks mere brings to life issues of cancer, medical malpractice, stem cells, race, scientific research, individual dignity — you name it, the book has it.

Sonny Lacks will discuss his mother’s story and how it affected the Lacks family — as well as the rest of humanity — for generations to come. He’ll also sign copies of the book.

ACTORS AND THEIR SCALES

Just a thought: Why do Hollywood actors feel it imperative to lose or gain massive amounts of weight for the roles they play?

I understand it all has to do with what seems to be the illogical evolution of method acting. You know, the discipline that made Marlon Brando (or vice versa) some 60 years ago — live the role and be the part. I get it.

Brando, Getting Into A Part

That’s why pretty boys who are slated to star in cops and robbers dramas ride along with real police officers before shooting begins so that they can pretend they know what it’s like to to carry a badge.

The latest two stars who’ve turned themselves into broomsticks for their roles are Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, who are appearing in “Les Miserables” and “The Dallas Buyers Club,” respectively.

Hathaway & McConaughey, Sans Flesh

This trend goes at least as far back as 1979 when Robert De Niro was working on “Raging Bull.” He packed on approximately three-quarters of a ton of lard, the better to portray Jake LaMotta as a bloated 50-year-old.

A Meaty Role

De Niro won the Oscar for his portrayal but it wasn’t because he jammed cream puffs into his face for several months before production began. De Niro arguably was the best actor of his generation. He’d have won the Academy Award if he’d never even touched a bag of Cheetos®.

Now, Hathaway and McConaughey are capable actors, although neither breathes De Niro’s rarified air. I’m willing to bet they’d be convincing in their parts no matter what size their waistlines are.

A lot of this has to do with what we like to think of as reality. In a nation where significant portions of the population believe in angels, UFOs, ghosts, and three-year-old kids going to heaven and coming back to tell about it, yet don’t believe in man-made climate change, the movie-going public demands “realism” in its entertainment. We’re all mixed up.

So, I suppose Hollywood actors are giving us what we want. Which is heaping piles of bullshit.

It reminds me of a famous, if apocryphal, bit of acting advice offered by Laurence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman, his costar in “The Marathon Man.” Hoffman, the story goes, stayed awake and ran himself ragged for several days before shooting a key scene. Olivier asked him why he was putting himself through hell. Hoffman replied that he wanted to be convincing.

“Try acting, dear boy,” Olivier said. “It’s much easier.”

To Which Hoffman Replied….

SPEAKING OF BRATS GOING TO HEAVEN

How many times do I have to harp on this, people?

The latest New York Times Non-Fiction Trade Paperback Bestseller list is topped by “Proof of Heaven,” and “Heaven Is for Real.” Again.

The Burpos, On Earth

It’s the second week in a row the two fever dream retellings have ranked one and two on the list. (And let’s leave aside the obvious problem: These books are not nonfiction.)

What’s going on? Are the fundamentalist Christians who voted against Barack Obama trying to console themselves by fantasizing about a fab afterlife?

And another thing. What’s with the debate team topic titles? Are these people trying to convince us?

Or themselves?

HEAVENLY CRASH

Here’s a trivia bit that’ll make you a hit at the next holiday party.

The following bands and acts have recorded songs entitled, simply, “Heaven”:

  • All Saints (natch)
  • Better Than Ezra
  • Bryan Adams
  • Carly Simon
  • Hanson
  • Ice Cube
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Joan Armatrading
  • John Legend
  • Psychedelic Furs
  • Simply Red
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Talking Heads
  • The Rascals
  • The Rolling Stones

Heaven?

  • Uncle Kracker
  • Warrant

Want more? Okay. Here’s a list of selected movies with the word heaven in the title:

  • “Kingdom of Heaven”
  • “Just Like Heaven”
  • “Between Heaven and Earth”
  • “Pennies from Heaven”
  • “Days of Heaven”
  • “Heaven and Earth”

  • “All Dogs Go to Heaven”
  • “Far from Heaven”
  • “Heaven Can Wait”
  • “Heaven Only Knows”
  • “Heaven with a Gun”
  • “Heaven”
  • “My Blue Heaven”
  • “Back Door to Heaven”
  • “7th Heaven”
  • “Gates of Heaven”
  • “Chance at Heaven”
  • “All This and Heaven, Too”
  • “East Side of Heaven”
  • “Heaven Is a Playground”
  • “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison”

What Could Steve Martin Have Been Thinking?

Believe it or not, some of these films are good. Many of them, though, are dogs. Perhaps the bow-wow-iest is “My Blue Heaven” in which Steve Martin tries to play a “Goodfellas”-type mobster for laughs. I love Steve Martin but he made his biggest mistake by simply opening up this script.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallGuest Recital: Jonathan Biggers on organ; 12:15pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Art MuseumNoon Talk Series: “The Light Fantastic,” Presented by Rob Shakespeare; 12:15-1:15pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallArtist Diploma Recital: Nathan Giem on violin; 5pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — “Posters from the Revolution: The Anthropology of Graphic Arts in Cuba,” Gerrie Casey talks about her collection; 5pm

WORKSHOP ◗ Monroe County Public Library, Auditorium — “Serve IT: Get Engaged!” Program to help non-profits use social media; 5:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSchool of Music Lecture Series: Steven Zohn on “Norality, German Cultural Identity, and Telemann’s Faithful Music Master“; 5:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, Public viewing through the main telescope; 6:30pm

DISCUSSION ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumDavid Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks (subject of the bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”), speaks about his family’s experiences; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Bloomington High School NorthFall Concert, Performed by the BHSN Concert Bands; 7-8:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — SOLD OUT: “On the Road“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallSenior Recital: Anastasia Falasca on violin; 7pm

PERFORMANCE ◗ Unity of Bloomington ChurchAuditions & rehearsal for Bloomington Peace Choir; 7-8:30pm

ROUNDTABLE ◗ IU Ballantine Hall — “Elections 2012: What Went Right, What Went Wrong, and Where To From Here?“; 7:15pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, in the Rose FirebayDrama, “The Rimers of Eldritch“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubAfro Hoosier International; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn HallMedieval Studies Movie Series: “Ostrov (The Island)“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSymphony Orchestra, David Effron, conductor, Gulrukh Shakirova, piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallContemporary Vocal Ensemble, Dominick DiOria, conductor, Mason Copeland, organ; 8pm

DANCING ◗ Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallDoctoral Recital: Daniel Bubeck, countertenor; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdThe Personnel; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopMaserati, The Young, Majeure; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

%d bloggers like this: