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Tag: Hollywood

Dawes: The Laurel Canyon sound continued

Saturday, 14 July, 2018

In Laurel Canyon by Michael Walker, which was published in 2006, the author described the eponymous place high in the Hollywood Hills as “the slightly seedy, camp-like neighborhood of serpentine one-lane roads, precipitous hills, fragrant eucalyptus trees, and softly crumbling bungalows set down improbably in the middle of Los Angeles.” There, in 1968, something magical happened when Joni Mitchell was in the ‘hood: “So it was that Nash, Stills, and Crosby sat in Mitchell’s living room on Lookout Mountain, in the heart of Laurel Canyon, in the epicenter of L.A.’s nascent rock music industry, and for the first time, began to sing together.”

It’s been said that the Los Angles rock band Dawes are the continuation of the Laurel Canyon sound by new means. The members are Wylie Gelber, Lee Pardini and the brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith. Living in the Future is the first song on their new album, Passwords, which was released last month.

Note: Passwords has been described as an album “for and about the modern age: the relationships that fill it, the politics that divide it, and the small victories and big losses that give it shape.” Dawes are marketing the album with campaign that encourages fans to search for “passwords” posted across the internet. Once a password is found, it can be entered on the band’s site where each part of the password represents a musical note. When entered correctly, these musical notes play bits from Dawes songs and unlock exclusive content, including a Spotify playlist curated by Griffin Goldsmith.


Tech Will Save Us

Monday, 19 March, 2018 0 Comments

Well, I don’t know if it will but the fact is that a UK startup called Tech Will Save Us recently raised $4.2 million in funding. What does it do? It creates STEM-based products for children that teach basic tech skills and thus prepares them for a tech-focused future. Critically, for the funders, Tech Will Save Us will partner with Disney to create a new Avengers-themed electronics play kit. Sales pitch: “Save the world with Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America by completing missions with conductive dough.”

Upon receiving the tangible dough from SaatchInvest, Backed VC, Initial Capital and Leaf VC, the founder of Tech Will Save Us, Bethany Koby, had this to day about the kindness of investors: “They will not only bring expertise and insights from the gaming industry but they align with our values as parents and entrepreneurs to use our time to impact the next generation in a positive way.” What a pity that Lucy Kellaway isn’t available to decrypt “they align with our values as parents and entrepreneurs to use our time to impact the next generation in a positive way.” She would have shredded its sanctimony.

Note: The Avengers earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide and became the third-highest-grossing film during its cinema run. It was the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales and became the highest-grossing film of 2012. A sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was released in 2015, while an additional sequel, Avengers: Infinity War is scheduled for global release on 27 April. If tech will not save us, The Avengers will, is the message.


Garech Browne (1939 – 2018)

Monday, 12 March, 2018 0 Comments

Garech Browne, the Guinness scion who died in London on Saturday, was one of the most important patrons of traditional and modern Irish art. His spectrum of taste can be summed up in his friendships, which ranged from the piper Paddy Moloney to the painter Francis Bacon. And in the middle of this charmed world stood Luggala, the exquisite 18th-century house located on 5,000 mountainous acres in County Wicklow, which acted as a magnet for the local and the global, from Dublin poets and East Clare fiddle players to Hollywood film directors.

Luggala played a decisive role in the fortunes of the Cockburn family in the mid-1950s as Alexander Cockburn recounted in Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies & the Reagan Era. His father, Claud, author of the novel Beat the Devil, had found temporary refuge from his creditors at the estate and then John Huston arrived:

“Quite apart from the simple comfort of not having water on the floor, and bailiffs at the gate, Luggala was a wonderful place to go in the mid-1950s. Writers and artists from Dublin, London Paris and New York drank and sang through the long hectic meals with a similarly dissolute throng of politicians and members-in-good-standing of the café society of the time. And during this particular Horse Show week Luggala was further dignified by the presence of the film director John Huston and his wife of those years, Ricky. My father was a friend of Huston — from his stint in New York in the late 1920s perhaps, or maybe from Spanish Civil War days — and quite apart from the pleasure of reunion there was Beat the Devil, ready and waiting to be converted into a film by the director of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

My father spoke urgently to Huston of the virtues of Beat the Devil, but he found he had given, beneath fulsome dedications, his last two copies to our hostess and to a fellow guest, Terry Gilmartin. These copies were snatched back and thrown into Huston’s departing taxi. A week later, Huston was in Dublin again, shouting the novel’s praises. He and Humphrey Bogart had just completed The African Queen and were awaiting the outcome of that enormous gamble. I can remember Huston calling Bogart in Hollywood and reading substantial portions of the novel to him down the phone — a deed which stayed with me for years as the acme of extravagance.”

Note: Garech Browne’s father was Dominick Browne, the Fourth Lord Oranmore and husband of Oonagh Guinness, daughter of Honorable Arthur Ernest Guinness, the second son of the first Lord Iveagh. Dominick Browne had the rare distinction of sitting in the House of Lords for 72 years until his death at age 100 in August 2002, without ever having spoken in debate. May they all Rest in Peace.

Luggala


President Oprah and pervnado

Monday, 8 January, 2018 2 Comments

Actress: Weinstein used Oprah and Naomi to seduce me” reported The New York Post on 28 November last year. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? It’s a Murdochian rag, isn’t it? But Hollywood will find it harder to wish away the photo of Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein attending the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards back in January 2014. Oh, and Oprah co-starred in the 2013 film The Butler, produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their company distributed the film.

Oprah 2020? It’s a long road to the White House and pervnado is not exhausted yet.

Oprah and Harvey

[Director Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein at the “after party” for The Butler on 12 August 2013 in Los Angeles. Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images.]


In the year of his first cigarette

Saturday, 24 June, 2017 0 Comments

In the year that the great Galty smoked his first cigarette, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, premiered in Hollywood; Francisco Franco assumed power in Spain; Flann O’Brien’s metafiction At Swim-Two-Birds was published in London; Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt married Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran; Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit; Italy seized Albania and King Zog fled; an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five people; John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published; Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27; nylon stockings went on sale in Wilmington, Delaware, and LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City.

Oh, and the opening shots of World War II were fired when Germany invaded Poland.

Galty


Claud Cockburn’s Cork literary colony

Thursday, 2 February, 2017 0 Comments

At the height of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell wrote Homage to Catalonia and in it he accused Claud Cockburn of being under the control of the Communist Party. Was the star journalist a Stalinist? The debate raged through the 1940s and when it became uncomfortable the suspected “Red” moved his family from England to Ireland and the Cockburns set up home in Youghal, County Cork, in 1947.

With a household to maintain and a dodgy reputation to contend with, Claud needed to be agile and he was. He created his own “literary colony” and proceeded to type a constant but uneven income stream under a variety of names. In his memoirs, he recalls a visitor to Youghal describing the hive of creative industry thus:

“He claimed to have met Frank Pitcairn, ex-correspondent of the Daily Worker — a grouchy, disillusioned type secretly itching to dash out and describe a barricade. There was Claud Cockburn, founder and editor of The Week, talkative, boastful of past achievements, and apt, at the drop of a hat, to tell, at length, the inside story of some forgotten diplomatic crisis of the 1930s. Patrick Cork would look in — a brash little number, and something of a professional Irishman, seeking, no doubt, to live up to his name. James Helvick lived in and on the establishment, claiming that he needed quiet and plenty of good food and drink to enable him to finish a play and a novel which would soon bring enough money to repay all costs. In the background, despised by the others as a mere commercial hack, Kenneth Drew hammered away at the articles which supplied the necessities of the colony’s life.”

And it was James Helvick who helped the family win the lottery, as it were, with the novel Beat the Devil. Helvick, aka Cockburn, met John Huston in Luggala and sold the film rights to the Hollywood director and this advancement from penury to prosperity is recalled by Claude’s late son, Alexander, in Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies & the Reagan Era. As we’ve been pointing out here this week, Luggala, the outstanding 18th-century Irish house and estate in County Wicklow, is now being offered for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty for $29 million.

What did Helvick/Cockburn do with the fat film cheque when it eventually arrived in Youghal via Luggala and Hollywood? Champagne and a bicycle were involved, as we’ll find out tomorrow.

Luggala


When Hollywood came to Cork

Wednesday, 1 February, 2017 0 Comments

On Monday and yesterday here, our topic was the impending sale of Luggala, the beautiful 18th-century Irish house in County Wicklow. Sotheby’s International Realty want $29 million for the estate, an incomprehensible sum for many people today and an unfathomable amount for the creative types who once found refuge in Luggala.

Claud Cockburn was one of these and his Wicklow adventures were recalled by his late son, Alexander, in Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies & the Reagan Era. Claude, author of Beat the Devil, met John Huston in Luggala and made a pitch for the novel’s screen potential. The Hollywood director was impressed and soon afterwards he made his way to Youghal, the ailing port on the Cork coast, where the Cockburns lived precariously:

“By the time Huston and his wife came down to Youghal to talk more about the screenplay he couldn’t read Beat the Devil on the phone, not ours at least, because it had been cut off for non-payment of bills. Telegrams shuttled back and forth between Youghal and Hollywood and finally the offer came: £3,000 for rights and screenplay, or a lesser sum up front, against a greater, but as yet insubstantial reward — the famous ‘points’ — in the distant future. My father naturally took the lump sum on the barrel, used some of it to plug the roof and appease the bailiffs and then went to work with Huston on the screenplay.

The film had a sumptuous cast: Bogart, Peter Lorrie, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley. When it finally got to Youghal there was a great to-do in the form of a grand screening at Horgan’s Cinema. The people of Youghal, not entirely without reason, found it incomprehensible but applauded heartily, none more so, I imagine, than the bailiffs and other representatives of the commercial sector of the town.”

But there was a fly in the ointment. As the film’s credits rolled, the screenplay was attributed to Truman Capote, “from a novel by James Helvick.” Who was this James Helvick and how was he related to Frank Pitcairn, Patrick Cork, Kenneth Drew and Claud Cockburn? Or were all they the same person? The answers can be found here tomorrow.

Beat the Devil


When the Cockburns went to Luggala

Monday, 30 January, 2017 0 Comments

“Hidden inside a secluded Irish valley lies Luggala, an exquisite 18th-century house at the centre of an estate comprising of some 5,000 acres.” And for $29,952,931 this can be yours say Sotheby’s International Realty, who don’t spare the adjectives in their blurb: “Luggala is that special brand of eighteenth-century gothick that rejoices in little battlements, crochets, trefoil and quatrefoil windows and ogee mantelpieces, Indeed, quite like the gothick of pastrycooks and Rockingham china.” Good ones those: gothick, crochets, trefoil, ogee.

Anyway, Luggala, with its 27 bedrooms and 18 full baths featured in the hilariously readable Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies & the Reagan Era by the late Alexander Cockburn. In the chapter titled “Beat the Devil”, he recalls how his father, Claud, author of the novel Beat the Devil, retreated to Luggala to escape his creditors:

Beat the Devil was published at the beginning of the fifties, in England by Boardman and in the US by Lippincott. Both are now defunct, at least as houses publishing trade books. The advance against royalties provided by Boardman was, to my mother’s recollection, somewhere between £200 and £300, and the sum of the American rights was $750. This sort of money, though not as paltry as it now appears, did not long stay the bailiffs and things were looking bad as we went off to stay, for the Dublin Horse Show week, with Oonagh Oranmore at Luggala, her house in the Wicklow mountains.”

Tomorrow, here, how the Hollywood director John Huston, a frequent guest at Luggala, made a dramatic entrance and saved the Cockburns from poverty.

Luggala


The Spielberg trademark

Sunday, 18 December, 2016 0 Comments

In 1964, when he was 17, Steven Spielberg caught the attention of Universal Studios with his 140-minute film Firelight, about a UFO invading a small town. He went on to direct episodes of TV series such as Columbo and Marcus Welby, MD, as well as his own psychological thriller Duel in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1975 that the breakthrough came. That was the year Steven Spielberg presented the movie industry with the concept of the summer blockbuster in the form of Jaws. The rest is Hollywood.

If you watch any of his films, you’ll notice a trademark element: the Spielberg Face. This is his signature. Characters watch in awe, wonder, fear, sadness, hope, joy. It’s his way of showing us that this is a vital scene. The great storyteller Steven Spielberg is 70 today.


Watching Watson emote with redundant robots

Saturday, 27 February, 2016 0 Comments

Hollywood has become rather fond of depicting robots and artificial intelligence as threats to humanity and that’s not good for the image of the computing industry. Too much dystopia and people might begin to fear the machines. Time, then, for a spot of conviviality where people interact with the technology that will soon be bossing business, and that’s why IBM will present two ads starring its Watson cognitive computing system during the Academy Awards show.

In this clip we see Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher leading a support group for outmoded robots upset at being replaced by newer technology. She invites Watson to help them confront their anxieties and he tells them he’s a computing system that works with humans. But the “traditional” robots say they’re not interested in working with people and opt for a coffee break instead. Humour is not an easy thing to do at the best of times and it’s especially difficult for humans to make robots funny.

#OscarsSoRobotic: The bots in the Watson clip will be live-tweeting during the Oscars.


And the Oscar goes to…

Thursday, 7 January, 2016 0 Comments

… the landscape. Sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio, your performance is compelling, but there’s more to acting than being attacked by a bear. The Revenant is a feast for the eyes, but not so much for the ears. The score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, in collaboration with Bryce Dessner and Alva Noto, is appropriately chilling but it lacks all traces of humanity. The other pain-in-the-ear is the accent of the dastard John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). “I’m talkin’ to you,” he says in one scene, and it’s about the only understandable thing he utters and mutters throughout. Dave Schilling in the Guardian nails it:

“Fitzgerald is supposed to be from the south or some other rural area and has plans to go back to Texas to re-enlist in the army once he receives a fat payday. This affords Hardy the chance to sink his teeth into yet another dialect and boy, does he chew away at that thing. Again, Hardy’s accent seems to ride in and out on the wind, appearing when necessary and getting usurped by a generic, Star Trek: Nemesis-esque growl when he can get away with it.”

With The Revenant, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu has made a unique visual statement about survival in the face of almost impossible odds and viewers are treated to some memorable graphic moments, but the film has no soul. Worse, it is littered with the inevitable PC sops that must be offered these days to the “victims” of history, but they are too clumsy and transparent to be anything but cliché. When the dust settles after the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on 28 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, The Revenant will be remembered mostly for reviving a 19th century word for someone who returns from a long absence. The noun comes from the French revenant, the present participle of the verb revenir (“to return”).

Prediction: The Revenant will win an Oscar: Best Cinematography for the magnificent camerawork of Emmanuel Lubezki. He creates a truly imposing wild West from a variety of scenes shot in Canada, Argentina and the United States.