Party Reporting! It sounds like the cushiest job ever except that the pay is in free drinks and bite sized foods and you can't make rent with that. You can however find them delicious, which I do. So... I hit two movie parties last week and though neither were as decadent or as exciting as that Michael Fassbender / Shame party -- it's hard to beat the Top of the Standard for decadent opulence -- both were for good causes: Michael Shannon and Woody Harrelson's Oscar Campaigns for Best Actor. Now, these technically weren't Oscar parties. There are strict limitations and quotas surrounding those. But all movie events for critically acclaimed films or performances have the same endgame in mind, don'cha know, so they're all virtual awards parties.
The winner is... [opening virtual envelope] .... ohmigod it's a tie! The first winner is "Whoever Networks Well" and the other winner is "the Actual Honoree of Whichever Event You're At".
I spoke briefly with Michael Shannon, who at 6'3" made me feel much shorter than I am (5'10"). He's far more handsome in real life than one expects given the often twitchy uncomfortable / confrontrational characters he's known for. A movie reporter friend of mine had already engaged him in conversation was talking with him about William Friedkin so I blurted out that I loved Bug on stage and on screen. The look on Shannon's face suggested to me that this is perhaps not usually the first thing out of a stranger's mouth. I also asked him if he was feeling intimidated at all about walking in Terence Stamp's iconic shoes...er boots... for in the new Superman film. He was on a break from Man of Steel (2013) but indicated no fear at the prospect. He did say that when people ask him about the movie they almost always say or ask if he'll be saying the classic line "Kneel Before Zod!"
He did not gift me with the answer to this constant question... though to my credit I did not directly ask. This isn't a Superhero Movie News Blog.
I also thanked Oren Moverman (Rampart's writer/director) for giving so many great actresses parts, however tiny, that were worthy of them for a change. I'm talking bout Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Robin Wright and even Harriet S Harris who I had run into the week before accidentally outside of a screening.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP: Moments with Courtney Love, Amy Ryan, Celia Weston and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Harriet hadn't yet seen the movie but believed she'd been entirely cut out. I assured her that Moverman's final cut did give her one really wicked line reading -- albeit in a now miniscule cameo. Moverman feels bad about removing her. (It can't be easy being a director and leaving fine actors on the cutting room floor... the decisions you have to make. I personally don't think Rampart is as strong as The Messenger but it's a must for fans of actor's movies all the same since the cast runs so deep / talented.)
After Moverman I ran out the door. Many people who I've met over the years think I'm an extrovert but I am actually an extroverted introvert (Gemini) so there's no predicting whether I will hide in a corner at a party or mingle shamelessly. I can't even predict it myself. Unfortunately I was in introvert mode nearly the entire week so there's not much to report. The vast garden room of the Mondrian Soho's Imperial Number Nine seemed to mock me for all the space between myself and the other attendees... does this mean the space was too big for the number of guests or that I am just a crazy person? (That is what is known as a rhetorical question. Do not answer.)
Famous Attendees Spotted: Courtney Love, Ben Stiller, Milos Forman, Steve Buscemi, Robert Wuhl and the two I chatted with. Weirdly enough, Woody Harrelson never showed himself to my eyeballs so I cannot verify that he attended his own party. I also never saw Sigweavie and you know I was looking. In heels she should theoretically be as easy to spot as Michael Shannon as she towers over we mere mortals.
Most Glamorous Moment: Courtney Love almost coughed on me! She covered her mouth (good manners!) as she whisked by me en route to...(?)... I couldn't say. She vanished as quickly as that film career. But she sure was good in The People vs. Larry Flynt, right?
Take Shelter Party
This one was for Michael Shannon (present again) but Jessica Chastain was notably absent -- probably filming her 27th upcoming movie. Arrived halfway through this one in the beautiful basement bar space of Rue 57. Lots of mouth watering dishes including vegetable dumplings, mini burgers, and a Gyllenhaal. More fun found at this intimate setting and had a few really great chats with assorted below the line people who told me on set stories (not from this movie) that I cannot repeat.
Also stopped to chat with Amy Ryan. She had just finished filming the next Drake Doremus picture (wasting no time following up his Like Crazy breakthrough) and I wanted to tell her how much I enjoyed her in Win Win. The concerned wife of the main character is such a thankless role in most productions but she really adds so much flavor to that sweet film. My favorite scene in Win Win is the one where she shows her tattoo to the young wrestler. She smiled at the memory and much to my surprise told me that that wasn't even in the original screenplay. Writer/director Thomas McCarthy added it last minute feeling something else was necessary right there in the movie (good instincts). My favorite part of our brief conversation was talking about her interpretation of Stella in the Kennedy Center's A Streetcar Named Desire several years ago (Patty Clarkson was Blanche and I liked the production much more than most critics at the time and I thought Ryan stole the show). She loved the production and said:
It was hard to do other plays for awhile afterward. How do you follow Tennessee Williams?"
The night ended with a long fun conversation with Celia Weston. I've talked to her several times at movie parties over the years (she must live here in NYC) and I was trying to steer clear this night so as to avoid feeling stalkerish but my guest demanded it as he was an enormous fan of Observe and Report (2009) and had just watched it the day before. Turned out the topic was a favorite of hers, because she just kept telling stories from it which led to stories from other movies. I was curious if she ever watched any of these movies and she says, she'll stop and watch them if they're on TV and she hasn't seen them in a long time. She had recently seen Dead Man Walking (1995) again and couldn't believe how young she looked in it. Very down to earth response. I asked her what film people stop her about most in the streets and she said it changes all the time depending on what's just been on TV. What's more common, she says, is that people stop her thinking they actually know her from their past not realizing she only looks so familiar from the past two decades of film and television. Sometimes they don't even believe her when she tries to explain that she's an actress!
Most Glamorous Moment: (You realize these glamour momemts are satirical right? My life is not glamorous.) I did order one drink while Jake Gyllenhaal stood at the bar within arm's reach. No, my arm never reached. I believe in the sanctity of personal space... even for celebrities.