"I AM not Famous Anymore!"
Actor Shia LaBeouf wore a paper bag on his head with the above written on it. He was at the Berlin premiere of his latest film, the sexual epic Nymphomaniac. This is the latest in a series of odd, Joaquin Phoenix-like stunts, appearances, walk-offs, plagiarisms, apologies and such that the talented young actor has engaged in over the past year.
I liked Shia so much in the 2005 Bill Paxton directed movie The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Although he'd been around for a bit, I'd never seen Shia before. He was impressive, and I enjoyed a lot of his later work. He even made the Transformers movies seem not terrible. But now -- either deliberately to call attention to himself, or because he is under some strain -- he's acting out in the weirdest, most tiresome way. Take the paper bag off your head and relax in Barbados or something.
Surely, Mr. LaBeouf doesn't think a movie titled Nymphomaniac needs publicity? (Directed by Lars von Trier, the film also stars Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell).
•I MENTIONED last week that Harvey Weinstein's Proust Questionnaire in the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair magazine had him declaring himself repeatedly a family man. But there was another aspect of his revelations -- his personality -- that struck me.
The historical figure he most identifies with is -- Spartacus. If he were to come back as a person or thing it would be -- Robin Hood. His favorite fictional heroes -- Ivanhoe and Huck Finn. Surprising? Well, he does embody many of those heroic/adventurous/altruistic qualities. He has certainly employed them in his career as a film mogul. He has other qualities, too. I think Harvey's inner heroes have taken over. (Something he would attribute no doubt to his family life.)
However, Mr. Weinstein hasn't gone soft on us. When asked his favorite motto, he quoted Kurt Vonnegut: "There is no good reason good can't triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the Mafia."
•FRIDAY IS Valentine's Day, and the lovely folks at The Doris Day Animal Foundation have a limited offer that is romantic and sweet. The great Miss Day will personally autograph her CD, My Heart, and an accompanying 8x12 print of DD, also inscribed. If you want Miss Day to sign to your beloved, she will. Proceeds from this will benefit DDAF, which does so much to rescue and care for our four-legged friends.
There were only a few CDs left, so hurry. And even if you miss out, you might contribute something to DDAF just because -- Doris' birthday is coming up in April. The icon will be 89. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences still refuses to honor Doris with a special Oscar. I've written and ranted myself hoarse on this. Just stating the painful truth of that slap in the face is all we do at this point. I know Doris herself doesn't care. She is beyond all that.
But that doesn't make it right. She was the greatest box-star of the 1950s-60s.
•REMEMBER ALL the old sex-and-sandals-gladiator-Hercules movies that glutted the 1950s and 60s? Sometimes they were mammoth and impressive -- Samson and Delilah...Quo Vadis?. Sometimes they were just good, cheap, drive-in fun -- Hercules Unchained...The Trojan Horse...Atlas In the Land of the Cyclops...Amazons of Rome...The Loves of Hercules (Jayne Mansfield in a duel role. Best seen over cocktails!)
Well, the genre never really dies out. Gladiator in 2000 spawned mini-glads and TV series such as Rome and Spartacus. Now we have a new entry. It is titled Pompeii. It is in 3-D. It tells a tale of the randy citizens of that doomed city as Vesuvius erupts. Yeah, it'll probably not come close to the black-and-white fun of 1935's The Last Days of Pompeii, but this new one should be eye-popping, at least. Nothing like a CGI volcano in 3-D!
Pompeii stars Kit Harrington (you know him from Game of Thrones but he's all pumped up, for his brave gladiator role here) Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kiefer Sutherland.
There is a special screening of Pompeii in Manhattan tomorrow night, with a glitzy party after. Lots of glam folks, sheer clothing, free-flowing booze, trays of delicious edibles. Just like...the last days of Pompeii.
Watch out for the lava flow! (And in reality, isn't there worry that Vesuvius is about to erupt again?)
•ENDTHOUGHT: Yes, we all think the culture is coarsening, and as liberal as some of us are, how unimaginative are all the curse-words and bared flesh of many films? It's not shocking, it's just boring. But don't carry on like there are no alternatives. (Oh, yes, you do!) I guide your eye to the weekend box-office where the animated, charming, family-friendly The Lego Movie took in $69 million. There always have been and always will be movies and TV shows that are "safe."
It's called choice and free-will.