"The best revenge is massive success," said Frank Sinatra.
• The other day I remarked that Cate Blanchett's modern take on Tennessee William's famous character Blanche DuBois, in Woody Allen's new movie "Blue Jasmine," was the female Oscar performance of the year to beat.
I wasn't thinking at the time that life follows art and then I received an email from Vincent Petrarca who commented: Don't you think there is as much Mia Farrow in 'Jasmine' as there is Blanche DuBois? Especially in that final confrontation with Alec Baldwin.
(If you haven't seen this film, the leading lady--Cate--blows the whistle on her criminal husband-- played by Alec Baldwin -- and the chips fall where they may. Everybody loses. -- It's as if in real life, Mrs. Bernie Madoff had revealed her husband's shenanigans, which she didn't.)
So did Woody Allen make his leading lady Cate less appealing and tempted toward her own fate than Tennessee Williams did his pitiful needy character, Blanche?
And was he thinking about his ill-fated real-life experience with Mia Farrow who is still, evidently, hoping to bring him down? I confess I haven't a clue.
• Have you wearied of comic-book characters brought to life on the big screen? Too bad. Most of these movies make big bucks. The latest from the Marvel stable of superheros is -- I kid you not -- Ant Man. And here I thought I was pretty good knowing who Aquaman was! Anyway, Ant Man is a brilliant scientist who can change his size.
The two big names up for on-screen shrinkage are Paul Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rudd is adorable, and an excellent actor, but his career has mostly consisted of pairing up with every attractive actress in Hollywood for a long series of rom-coms. Gordon-Levitt is Hollywood's hottest-young-actor-on-the-rise. (His current "Don Jon" is a sizzling, funny, spot-on take about 21st century sexual mores; pornography addiction and what passes for dating these days.) And, he's already appeared in a similar film, "The Dark Knight Rises," although he had no special powers, other than his charisma.
• Well, there was some concern -- mostly from male comics -- that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler didn't have what it took to host the Golden Globes successfully. They were wrong. How wrong? Tina and Amy have signed on for GG co-hosting duties until 2015.
Sorry, Ricky Gervais and the rest of you guys.
• Film fans can again rejoice at the excellent taste and instincts of The Criterion Collection DVD people. They have just released three of the most important Ingrid Bergman/Roberto Rossellini films, done in the 1950's during Bergman's Hollywood blacklisting.
Ingrid had shattered her pristine image by leaving her quiet doctor husband Peter Lindstrom for director Roberto Rossellini. Then she bore Rossellini's child out of wedlock. Although she and Rossellini would wed, and have two more children, this great star was persona non grata in America for a decade. Congress censured her! (It didn't help when it appeared she had also abandoned her daughter, Pia. The talented Pia forgave her mother and embraced her siblings. She has been a big name in New York broadcasting for years.)
The movies are "Stromboli," "Europe 51" and "Journey to Italy." Fascinating entries and proof positive that Bergman was totally committed to attempting this life of exile and to her husband's totally non-Hollywood approach to movie-making.
Eventually, Bergman would be approached to star in "Anastasia" for America's 20th Century Fox. (This, after a stage triumph in Europe.) She would win the 1957 Oscar, divorce Rossellini and continue to work, "forgiven," until her death in 1982.
But these mid-career black-and-white Italian films are perhaps the most evocative and interesting of her movie career. They surely display an actress willing to take chances and give her all for love and art.
P.S. Several years ago, I interviewed Ingrid's fabulous actress daughter Isabella Rossellini, who, as she matures, looks and sounds more and more like her mother. Isabella said that it was "very hard" for her mother to work on Roberto's European films. "She was extremely disciplined. She wanted a finished script, she wanted regular hours. That was not my father! She did these films out of love--and necessity--but she was quite relieved when Hollywood called her back."
• ALLURE magazine's excellent Joan Kron writes this month on "Marilyn Monroe's Plastic Surgery Secrets." Good piece, but almost nothing is "secret." Most everybody knows Monroe had minor work on her nose and chin--though she had been a fresh, pretty, hugely popular model before these tweaks. (Her surgeries refined her, they did not "transform" her. And most interesting, MM's chin implant dissolved after a couple of years! And she never had it done again.)
The odd part comes in when Ms. Kron states Monroe had "infected breasts" from silicone injections in the last year of her life. If MM had had silicone injections, her breasts would have looked much more robust than they did in her final year. By then she was almost painfully thin; and her bosom was fairly modest. In her Bert Stern nudes, six weeks before her death, some of the shots reveal the natural, slightly drooping bust of a 36-year-old woman. Silicone would have lifted her up.