Category Archives: Raging Bull

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.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The clock talked loud. I threw it away. It scared me what it talked.” — Tillie Olsen

TEMPUS FUGIT

It was a wild ride around the sun this time, no?

Don’t unbuckle your seatbelt just yet. The next one promises to be just as bumpy.

HUGO

The Loved One and I caught Martin Scorsese‘s “Hugo” yesterday. An out and out visual treat. It was the master director’s love letter to the movies.

Understand that I’m a big Scorsese fan. His “Raging Bull” was the greatest sports movie ever made and deserves consideration as the greatest movie ever made, period. At least two scenes from his movies have become conversational mantras: “I’m funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?” and “You talkin’ to me? I’m the only one here.”

Joe Pesci As Tommy DeVito

But Scorsese, in my unhumble opinion, always has kept a distance from his characters. He has handled the likes of Travis Bickle, Tommy DeVito, and Bill “the Butcher” Cutting with an icy reserve. He’s as dispassionate as a surgeon.

Even Hugo Cabret, the train station orphan who’s desperate to discover his purpose in life; Scorsese observes him from a remove. It’s the story of “Hugo” that Scorsese embraces, as if it’s his own.

“Hugo”

I’ll bet in the deepest recesses of his imagination, it is.

Anyway, one thing I couldn’t get past. The movie is set in a Paris train station. The vast majority of characters are French women and men (and kids). So why does everybody speak with an upper-class British accent?

NOCERA SWIPES MY IDEA

Speaking of sports (well, I mentioned the word in the above bit, didn’t I?), Joe Nocera penned a compelling piece for tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine. He suggests we strip away all the pretense and just pay college football and basketball players. He also recommends dropping the whole student-athlete charade.

Nocera

I endorse every word he writes, mainly because they’re precisely the things I’ve been hollering for years.

Living in a college town for more than two years now I realize how important the Hoosiers or the Buckeyes or the Badgers or even the Nittany Lions are to their surrounding communities.

Big time college athletics has become so ingrained in the life of the region around each university that the teams have become, in essence, public trusts. The Hoosiers, rightfully, are more a possession of the local citizenry than they are of Indiana University.

So, run the operation like a business. Which means pay the labor.

Even The Chinese Who Built The US Railroads Got Paid

NEWS AS ENTERTAINMENT

The Herald Times decreed today that the Lauren Spierer disappearance was the top local story of 2011.

I suppose that would be true if by “top story” you mean the one that played out most like a dramatic daily serial.

Me? I figure the top story was — once again — funding cutbacks for schools, libraries, social services, Planned Parenthood, and the like due to the 2008 crash and the inexorable move to the right in our holy land.

Then again, that’s not as riveting as The Case of the Missing Well-Heeled Pretty Blond Coed.

STAYIN’ ALIVE

Hey, if you’re planning to get sloshed tonight, remember to take the Yellow Cab Company up on its offer of a free ride home. IU-Bloomington Hospital as well as the city and the county are helping pay for the service.

Some 19 drivers will be shuttling the tipsy and the downright drunk home from their parties from 9:00pm through 4:00am.

See, It’d Be Better If This Guy Didn’t Drive Tonight

Call 812.339.9744 for your ride.

Oh, and don’t be a smart ass — the free ride is not meant for people shuttling between parties. There’s always some knucklehead.

THE FIGHTING GOP

Peter Sagal on “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” revealed this morning that former Minnesota GOP governor Tim Pawlenty claims to relax by logging on to a website featuring hockey fights.

You know, where two uniformed simians on skates pound each others’ heads and faces and otherwise express their version of sportsmanship.

Relaxing

Yep, nothing like watching incidents of otherwise-felonious assault to reach that zen-like state of repose. As long as you ignore the fact that many hockey goons will suffer brain degeneration and may well die young.

Is it any wonder why I’ve never voted Republican?

TIME

It’s a good day to listen to the Chambers Brothers hit from the fall of 1968.

Live this next year as if it may be your last. And let’s hope we can say that to each other fifty more times.

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