Film Reviews

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

By • Oct 19th, 2008 •

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It made me cry for Harvey Weinstein. Michael Wincott, I’ve missed you!

Two press screenings were cancelled. I was worried. Was it too “inside”? Are they cutting it for Kansas? Would “The Great Unwashed” understand the not-so-subtle nuances of the Hollywood studio system? Would the public be crushed when they find out that movie stars and directors are selfish crybabies?

Well fellas, there is not much that is a secret, especially with YouTube, cell phone cameras, and all the blind items about movie stars having gay sex with rent boys (Ted Casablanca’s “The Awful Truth”). I’m guilty. Before reading my email every morning, I check Page Six.

I know more about Brad and Angie than I do about my husband.

Robert De Niro looks years younger than he did in RIGHTEOUS KILL and is physically fit. So fit, he has a few shirtless scenes! And, playing a man his own age, takes ecstasy without the Viagra booster! He’s enjoying himself in this role and it shows. Well, maybe the restaurant and boutique hotel business is losing momentum with the downfall of the U.S. empire. If De Niro continues along this righteous return to acting, he might even team up with Martin Scorsese again!

Ben (De Niro) is a very successful Hollywood producer and veteran game player. If this is an accurate portrayal, than there is more pity to be had for the likes of Brian Grazer than one originally thought.

Like all producers, Ben has a gorgeous, young second wife, Kelly (Robin Wright Penn). They are divorced but Ben wants her and his house back. He is obsessed with winning her back and is a lovesick puppy. Seems he just works too much and didn’t spend enough time with Kelly! His alimony for Kelly and their two kids is $30,000 a month. He is such a good man, he drives his two young children to school and then rushes off to take his teenage daughter Zoe (Kristen Stewart) to her private school. He eyes his starter-wife’s grand estate and mentions how much it has appreciated in value. He traded up wife-wise, but now he’s living in a fancy hotel. I sobbed and brushed away a tear.

Ben feels the pain of being pushed to the back row of the photo spread of Vanity Fair’s annual power issue. Vanity Fair puts a number on everyone. Have they slipped? The best part is when they throw in a tidbit of gossip, such as “Yes, his wife, a former nail technician, gives copious notes to directors.”

You’re only as good as your last movie. Well, it might be true, but not for Jennifer Aniston. Ben’s just finished a picture with British director Jeremy Brunell (Michael Wincott), starring Sean Penn. The sneak-preview audiences hated the ending. The studio head, Lou Tarnow (Catherine Keener), tells Ben that the ending must change or the movie is dead. No Redemption-By-DVD either.

Ben is also days away from the start of another big movie starring Bruce Willis. The studio is paying $20 million for the Bruce Willis that “menstruating women want to have sex with”. Instead, a fat, heavily bearded Bruce turns up. Sort of like what happened when Marlon Brando arrived fat and bald-headed in the Philippines for APOCALYPSE NOW. Willis doesn’t want to be a sex symbol anymore. He wants to be taken seriously as an actor.

Ben is a Hollywood saint. He tries to make everybody happy. He’s understanding. He agrees with everyone’s point of view. He never insulted his wife in public, had hookers in the office, was a mean drunk, or voluntarily went to sex-addiction rehab. Hey, he’s just got an enormous vig. It’s a beast that must be fed. He has no savings. The British drug addict must re-cut the film and Bruce must shave.

The rules of the Hollywood board game are handed out when folks arrive by land, sea, train, and air. Nothing nasty, spiteful, or vicious is forbidden. People who have thin skins and fragile egos (or get fat) are kicked out.

Ben’s universe is inhabited by tantrum-making movie stars (exemplified by room-wrecking Bruce Willis), terrified agents (John Turturro plays Willis’s whipping-boy), backstabbing writers (Stanley Tucci), and women who want to have casual sex with him.

There is more evil out there than WHAT JUST HAPPENED? can expose, but it’s not a morality tale. It’s a clever wink at bad behavior. If you clawed your way to the top, and everybody knows what you had to do to get there, you have earned the right to that first Ducati (Brad Pitt, via TMZ.com, is said to have thrown a hissy-fit tantrum when he learned the first Ducati Desmosedici RR motorcyle (retail price: $72,500) had been snapped up by Tom Cruise. Pitt, justifiably infuriated and wronged, allegedly convinced a bigwig at UPS to put a “shipping freeze” on all outgoing Ducatis until he got his).

Producer Art Linson adapted his 2002 book “What Just Happened?: Bitter Hollywood Tales From the Front Line”, and now I want to read the thinly-veiled expose. Linson, director Barry Levinson, and De Niro, all Hollywood survivor-gladiators, have made sure that even though they towel-snap their colleagues, everyone skips off happily unscathed, and Bruce Willis is the film crew’s hero.

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