NOBODY DOES IT BETTER (IN MY PANTS) EDITION
Welcome, readers. I’m Mike De Luca and this is ON THE SLATE. This is where we talk about what’s hot, what’s not, what’s overrated, what’s underrated, what’s awful, what’s awesome…well, you know, we met last night at Chippendale’s during my set. You put a $50 bill in my gold lame g-string and said, “Let’s get you out of those dry clothes.” We went back into my dressing room, and beneath a framed picture of Ashton Kutcher, we…Wait, that wasn’t you? Shit. I really need to lay off the tequila. Hold on…it’s all coming back to me now. Those piercing blue eyes – that chin. Oh God. He did it again. TRAVOLTA!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, welcome! One week we might talk about how “The Bourne Legacy” is the cinematic equivalent of injecting cows with hormones to produce more milk, or offer up unfiltered commentary on my days as a web-footed Belgian sex worker named Chloe. But, before we begin, there are three things you need to know – #1 – This is ON THE SLATE with Mike De Luca. #2 – I am not remaking “Point Break” (though I have extensive experience with homoeroticism). #3 – There’s nothing I won’t do for an In and Out burger (and I mean nothing, baby). Let’s begin…
Even if you’re a British director named Rupert Sanders and you managed to direct a “Snow White” movie and sleep with Snow White, despite being less than chiseled, it still has been a sad week.
Rupert: “Yeah, I hit that. But this week sucks.”
Why is it a sad week? We lost a great composer of screen and stage, a bona fide EGOT winner (sorry, Shatner) named Marvin Hamlisch.
Picture a young man watching a James Bond movie for the first time with his father. His impressionable eyes light up, as he sees James Bond (as played by Roger Moore’s eyebrows) tear down a ski slope near a precipice, while chased by Russian baddies. He shoots the hell out of some these ski patrol-looking goons before jumping into a giant abyss. As his skis come loose and he floats through space, there is a long silent beat and WHOOSH! A parachute inflates with the Union Jack, and Monty Norman’s Bond theme hits us hard. I recall feeling a surge of patriotism, despite not being British. And then, superimposed over black, we see Bond land, softly into the giant hands of a woman, which fill the frame, as we begin one of Maurice Binder’s epic sexy opening title sequences, complete with nude women marching with rifles in what look like Beefeater uniforms. On the soundtrack, we hear a light sequence of notes taken right from Mozart that segues into Carly Simon’s lush voice gently stating, “No-body does it better….”
And so, Marvin Hamlisch, who co-composed the song and did the soundtrack for the film (1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me”) created a lovely, poignant preamble to what is the most romantic of the James Bond pictures (along with Peter Hunt’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). And, by doing so, Hamlisch created for the young man in question (yours truly) a lifelong love affair with the 007 movies (and nude woman carrying rifles, but that’s a story for another day, along with my Helen Mirren “Excalibur” thing – Morgana, nice). Anyway, perhaps you should see this sequence for yourself. Or, just as good, watch Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge describe it.
Over the years, Hamlisch composed memorable Academy Award-winning scores for such films as 1973’s “The Way We Were” (including the song, for which he also won a Grammy) and “The Sting” (inspired by turn-of-the-century composer Scott Joplin, whose piece “The Entertainer” he employed and managed to re-popularize). His film work includes scores for other classics like Frank Perry’s “The Swimmer” (a moody favorite of mine), Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run” and “Bananas”, “Ordinary People”, and “Sophie’s Choice”. His zippy, comic score for 2009’s “The Informant!” was arguably the best thing about that picture (sorry, Soderbergh).
Hamlisch also won Emmy awards for Barbra Streisand TV specials. But he is perhaps best remembered as the composer of the score to the 1975 musical “A Chorus Line”, for which he received both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Every time, I hear the light, airy strains of “One” (you know, “One-singular sensation, every little step she takes…”), I think of Hamlisch. Or the unabashedly romantic “What I Did tor Love”, which is not a far cry from “Nobody Does It Better”.
And let’s not forget “I Hope I Get It”, which received a bizarre tribute in “The Land of the Lost”, via Will Ferrell. Watch it, and, hopefully, somewhere, Marvin will be smiling. Goodbye, you amazing man.
But, let’s move to a more upbeat note.
Dear readers, how white am I? I thought Afro-Sheen was Emilio and Charlie’s brother. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Next!
So, my girlfriend somehow managed to get though most of her life without having seen 1978’s “Superman: The Movie”. How is that possible? Well, I have never tasted Nutella, so I guess that cancels her omission out. But, who am I kidding? Anyway, her take was, shall we say, interesting:
“Clark Kent is clearly on the down low. Think about it: he never manages to be completely honest with Lois Lane about his true identity, which is clearly a metaphor for his sexuality. He wears a cape that would make the envious bitch come out of Elton John. And those red boots, my God! Lex Luthor is obviously the leather daddy of his dreams. He puts a necklace with emerald-looking stones around his neck! Can you say, S&M?”
It was at this point we popped in “Superman II”. You can imagine her reaction to “Son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod!” Yep, you called it. Moving on…
My friends, it’s a Ben Affleck revolution. Chuckie owns your ass. No longer content to play “Reindeer Games” (remember “you white, then you Ben Affleck”), Affleck, over the years, has directed not one, but two crime masterworks (2007’s “Gone Baby Gone” and 2010’s “The Town”), and his third, “Argo” will be released in October of this year. The latter I am particularly excited about, as it tells the true story of a CIA operative who helped free six ambassadors during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by passing them off as the Canadian crew of a “Star Wars”-like space epic.
And this week, it was reported that Affleck was offered the chance to direct a “Justice League” movie because, clearly, playing a despondent suicidal actor who once played “Superman” is a must-have qualification).
His reps have indicated he turned it down, because one movie with “Green Lantern” is bad enough.
Another would be like starting a second war in Iraq.
Until next week, this is ON THE SLATE reminding you not to go looking for Richard Gere’s gerbil, because I already found it.
Your Khaleesi (give me my dragons),