Sunday, July 31, 2011

Auteur Watch - Peter and Philip Kaufman

Hard to say which is worse. Philip clearly should be billed first, but by being billed second here, he gets his whole name smooshed together as two words. Hard to say. Just as long as I don't mention his age, I guess. Still, he's done more at 75 than son Peter's done at 51. Ouch. But let's go back to the beginning and try to divine with our wishbone-shaped stick and see where the water is in terms of Favourite Decade here. Maybe it can be done.
Well, of course there's the 60s, the decade of the Beatles, and all those other things Billy Joel references in perhaps his single greatest song, We Didn't Start the Fire. Philip started young with Goldstein. Damn! The link to the Onion's review of it doesn't work. Did they like it? Or think it was pretentious, disagreeing with Jean Renoir, no less? Phil experienced a sophomore slump of sorts with Fearless Frank, in my humble opine anyway. It had a small budget! Where was it mostly filmed, the Kaufman mansion? I did love the performance by Severn Darden, especially as Claude, his evil twin. Just think of Fearless Frank as the Cliff's Notes for basically EVERY comic book known to man.
Or perhaps it was the 70s that are Phil's phavourite decade? Afros and disco, pimp outfits and platform shoes with goldfish in the heels. Disco mirror balls everywhere. Or as Moe Syzlak might say, it's like the 60s threw up, and the throw-up became the 70s! Or perhaps, the 60s ate too many pastel colors... you get the idea. Phil tackled Jesse James, The Thing, and The Body Snatchers in the 70s, so clearly still well under the radar. How a full frontally nude Brooke Adams gets only a PG rating is beyond me. I guess the MPAA blinked or something and missed it. Similar antics with his The Right Stuff in the 80s if I remember correctly, with the feather dancer. But since it was done artfully, the PG remains.
And then, the go go 80s. The Me Decade. Blow everywhere. Your grandfather was President, and the kids were partying whenever he nodded off... which was often. Fortunately for Phil Kaufman, he ended up in the right place at the right time. For you cinema SAT-types, Phil is to Raiders of the Lost Ark what Sam Simon is to the Simpsons. I guess Kauf's got a great lawyer or something, because he's still getting credit to this day... even for those crappy Lego Indiana Jones things. I like Legos as much as the next guy, but WTF, dude! I have yet to sit through a Lego ANYTHING featurette. Started to watch the Lego Monty Python and the Holy Grail... don't get it. I just don't get it. Anyway, all that directing must've tuckered ol' Phil Kaufman out... a lot. His gestation period's longer than even Martin Breast, almost! I know I misspelled it, but aren't misspellings rampant enough on the web these days? And so, 1988 gave us The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Oh, if only we all could live like Daniel-Day Lewis and Lena Olin in that movie. Piggybacking on that theme, we got 1990's Henry and June. Ol' Phil's responsible for more MPAA changes than anyone! Indiana Jones 2 created the PG-13, Henry & June creates NC-17... I guess that's about it. 1993 gave us Rising Sun, and Phil takes another long break, this time for 7 years. I guess the 90s weren't as good to him as the 80s. That's what you get for crossing Michael Crichton's path... at least, back then.
So, are the 2000s a good decade for P. Kauf? We got Quills, not bad. Then, he steps into a big pile of Judd with Twisted. Well, hopefully the set was sort of fun. I'm guessing that the joy in the making of the movie probably doesn't show up on the screen... oh, dear. It's made it into the Onion's "Commentary Tracks of the Damned" Hall of Shame. Not good. And yet, they priase and badmouth Kaufman at the same time. His talents were wasted, but he does the commentary so SCREW 'IM! Hang on while I read this... Oh, they're so mean. But maybe it's a good lesson for Kaufman: that's what you get for crossing Ashley Judd's path. Now and forever.
Or perhaps the 2010s will be the best Kaufman decade of all. An Ernest Hemingway biopic! Not the sort of thing he would tackle, but why not. Too bad he didn't do Norman Mailer as well. Great Costco 3-Pack: Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, and Hemingway. Well, either Mailer or Bukowski. A 3-Pack of manly authors! I slapped her across the face. Hard. She shed a tear. And then, she kissed me. Hard. And the rain came down. The phone kept ringing, and we made sweet, geriatric love. Old! So very old...
Oh, and son Peter directed a thing: China: The Wild East. Well, if it's not a neo-Western with Jackie Chan, then I don't wanna see it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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