[055] Oscar Buzz

This photo (above) is as close as I’ll get to Elton John’s Oscar Party to benefit his AIDS Foundation. They have taken over half of West Hollywood Park for the past week, erected a tent city, blocked roads – and when I arrived at the park for my swim today, I discovered VF.sunsetthey had commandeered the entire public parking garage AND the smaller lot next door. Really, Sir Elton? I love you, but… I struck a blow for the un-nominated, drove into the lot, threw some orange cones over a hedge and PARKED, dammit. When I was leaving, I almost ran over three cater waiters. The photo (right) is as close as I’ll get to the Vanity Fair post-Oscars party – always the hottest ticket in town. And now officially a neighbor of mine, as they have abandoned their longtime locale at the Sunset Tower hotel in favor of tenting a giant parking lot behind the tony shops and eateries on Sunset Plaza. Good thing I’m not bitter. (see update photo, below)

It is 2pm in Los Angeles. Two hours until the red carpet catches fire with the bejeweled and the bedecked. Three hours until the curtain rises on the 86th Academy Awards. I’ll watch the beginning because I love Ellen and I want to see what she fun stuff she has planned for the opening of the show. But, can I tell you a secret? I wish Neil Patrick Harris could be the host of everything, all the time.

As for the rest of it, I don’t think it will hold my interest. And it’s not Oscar, it’s me. I’m not a very good consumer of Hollywood’s product. Which is a heresy for a local, I know. But it’s true. I only see two or three films a year in a cinema. The upside of this is that everything on cable, on demand and online is new to me. It’s a smorgasbord. And I can watch in my jammies.

So, of the ten films nominated this year for Best Picture, I’ve seen two of them: Gravity and Philomena.

the-17-minute-take-in-gravity-is-a-masterpieceGravity was fun the way rollercoasters are fun: they scare you and then it’s over-before-it-began. I did enjoy seeing it at the new Sundance Cinemas on Sunset, which takes movie going to a new level of comfy gluttony. But that’s another post. I know that everyone in Hollywood is completely blown away by the special effects of this film, and they say the director is some kind of magician. And I… don’t get it. Am I just jaded by all the amazing special effects I’ve seen over the past 30 years? I mean, I’ve seen I don’t know how many alien invasions. I’ve seen Paris taken out by a giant asteroid. I’ve seen space armadas go to war in other galaxies. I’ve seen the Titanic sink and weird blue creatures riding other weird flying creatures. So forgive me for saying so, but watching America’s Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, float in space for a couple of hours after her space shuttle gets wrecked… didn’t really make the needle move. I didn’t believe for one minute that anyone in her situation could have survived for one minute. And I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to survive in those circumstances. Please, space junk whizzing by at 578,000 mph, just vaporize me PHILOMENA_Malready! Unlike Sandra Bullock, I would never have known which buttons to push on the Russian space ship and the Chinese space station. By far the best thing about this flick was the joke Tina Fey told at the Golden Globes: “Gravity is nominated for best film. It’s the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”

Note to self: Maybe Tina and Amy can be Globes hosts-for-life, and NPH can do the Tonys and Oscars. OK, so that’s settled. Good.

Come to think of it, it was Philomena we saw at the Sundance Cinemas. And based on my survey of American films of 2014 (both of them), I can tell you that they should gather up all of the golden statuettes and hand them to Dame Judi Dench. And she should share a few of them with Steve Coogan and the writers, etc. Yes, it was that good. So find it and watch it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. And you will not miss any of the special effects that are not to be found anywhere in this film.

And that concludes Steve’s Abbreviated Academy Awards for 2014. You’ll find gift bags by the door on your way out.

I lied. There are no gift bags. But here are two fun facts for you filmophiles:

Charlie Chaplin introduced The Little Tramp in 1914 – 100 years ago! (that’s before World War I)

and 75 years ago, we were off to see the Wizard for the very first time!


They don’t make ’em like these anymore.VF.party.fromroof

Day 055 #100happydays

Update (9:45pm): The klieg lights are sweeping the overcast skies,
and I can almost join the Vanity Fair papparazzi from my roof.


Weather or not…

When I was a kid in Connecticut, our next-door neighbors moved away. The people who bought their house were from Los Angeles, and on the day they moved in, the skies opened. Torrential rain.

My mother went over to welcome our new neighbors, who asked her, “When does the rainy season end?”

Now, that is a perfectly reasonable question in California, which really does have a rainy season: typically from November through February. It doesn’t guarantee rain during the winter months, but it does pretty much mean that you can plan your garden party from March through October without having to worry about an alternate ‘rain date’.

But to my mother, whose weather experience was limited to the New York metropolitan area, there was no such thing as a ‘rainy season’. Precipitation was just as likely on July 18th as it was on January 27th – the only variable was rain or snow. I remember Mom coming home and reporting that the new people were “a little strange”. (And they were a little strange, but it wasn’t weather-related.)

Turns out, it wasn’t such a bad question after all. That rainy move-in day for the neighbors was the start of a record-breaking streak of rainy days in the New York area, something on the order of 20 days in a row with rainfall. I may not be remembering the numbers accurately. But a LOT of rain fell for MANY MANY consecutive days. We learned later from the neighbors that they thought my mother was “a little strange” for having lied to them about Connecticut’s summer rainy season.


The local LA media is sounding the drumbeat today: EPIC RAINFALL EVENT ON THE WAY!! They are evacuating people from hillsides in recently burned areas. The rain may start tonight and continue, in waves, right up until the EPIC OSCARS EVENT!! on Sunday afternoon. Total rainfall in Los Angeles could be anywhere from 1-to-4 inches. You get used to the hyperbole in Southern California – the least challenging place in the country to be a meteorologist. “Sunshine today, sunshine tomorrow, sunshine continuing throughout the Zzzzzzz…” Imagine the excitement when they get to dust off the rainy day graphics. Click here to download your DIY Ark Instructions.

We need the rain. I’ve learned to be skeptical… but I hope we get it. Because when a little rain hits the dry pavement in LA, a lot of snow piles up in the Sierra. And that’s where most of our water comes from for the next year. Rain is good. As long as it doesn’t wreak havoc with hairdos and red carpet star-gazing at the Academy Awards!

Photo credit: “LA Rain” by Nic Adler (click here for Flickr link)