Lame Adventure 435: Celebrity Stalking and the New York Film Festival

One of my former companions, Rockets Redglare, insisted that the older a woman grew, the more she disappeared. What a huge advantage that cloak of invisibility was for wily me on the opening night of the 52nd New York Film Festival where David Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, received its world premier.

Outside Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, eight posters promoting Gone Girl, rubbing it into the eyeballs for anyone without tickets.

Outside Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, eight Gone Girl posters rubbing it in to anyone without tickets.

I scurried around the press tent virtually unnoticed.

Press tent.

Press tent.

The area had heavy police presence.

Police barricades be damned!

Police barricades be damned! I am woman, I am invisible, hear my camera roar!

The cops ordered rubber necking pedestrians eager to glimpse the stars to keep moving. One cop thought he was hilariously funny when he barked:

Barking Cop: C’mon people, move it! That’s only Ben Affleck — not Matt Damon.

"Matt's here?"

“Matt’s here?”

But I was able to exploit my ability to impersonate air to photograph the stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

Ben again.

Ben again.

My luck ran out every time I tried to snap a shot of Tyler Perry, who was obscured by camera crews.

If only I was that tree!

I envy that tree’s view of Tyler Perry!

Milton and I have tickets to about half of the festival’s thirty-three main slate screenings.

Nice haul of tickets.

Nice haul of tickets.

Gone Girl screened nine times on opening night. We scored tickets to one of the cheap seat screenings at the Francesca Beale Theater, located across the street from Alice Tully Hall,  where David Fincher and the cast were in attendance.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized opening night playbill.

Prized opening night playbill.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

The film was highly entertaining. The movie web site IMDB identifies it as a “Drama Mystery Thriller” but I prefer Milton’s succinct classification:

Milton: It’s a modern day film noir.

David Fincher has directed a riveting film about a couple hit hard by the recession. The husband (Affleck) finds his living room ransacked and his wife (Pike) missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The plot is a wild ride full of many twists and turns about marriage, money and the media. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel that was the source material, adapted her book into a very impressive first screenplay. Come awards time, this film will likely receive multiple nominations.

Over the weekend, we attended screenings at Alice Tully Hall, and were promptly plummeted back to earth. On Saturday, we saw the North American premier of Italian filmmaker Asia Argento’s Misunderstood. In her introductory remarks, Amy Taubin, a member of the NYFF’s selection committee and a veteran film critic, gushed about seeing that film earlier this year at Cannes. She claimed that it was about “girlhood”.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

The film, set in Rome in 1984, is about a nine-year-old named, Aria, whose megalomaniac showbiz parents hate each other’s guts, divorce and treat their youngest daughter with varying degrees of anger, indifference and rare affection. Throughout the entirety of the film Aria shuttles from one parent’s home to the other’s after she inevitably steps on a landmine pissing off these insufferable clods. Twice this kid attempts suicide. As the ending credits rolled I said:

Me: I feel like I’ve been bludgeoned.

Milton: I didn’t believe a single word of it.

During the q&a, Taubin asked Argento that considering that her name is Asia, one letter different than Aria, she is the daughter of famous parents (the filmmaker Dario Argento and the actress, Daria Nicolodi), and she was nine in 1984, was any of it autobiographical? Argento looked baffled, but volunteered that her name is Aria on her passport. She also revealed that the film was a comedy. That took us by surprise. But, we appreciated that she showed school spirit and attended her screening.

Asia Argento outside Alice Tully Hall following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

Asia Argento following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

The next day, we saw David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which had its US premier the night before. It is based on the novel written and adapted for the screen by Bruce Wagner. He was the only member of the production to attend the Sunday afternoon screening. He delivered a brief, but memorable, introduction. Possibly, he was quoting a fortune cookie:

Bruce Wagner: The road to hell is paved with laughter.

This film began as a clever satire about Hollywood: the egomania, desperation and how people invent themselves. Many of the jokes are hilarious. A secondary storyline features Julianne Moore as a middle age actress in a career slump obsessed with landing a particular part. Her performance was outstanding. But, the film derails in the last third. Even though it is not at all in the running for the worst film we’ve ever seen, it is one that we could not recommend to approximately 98 percent of the people we know.

My snack of choice this NYFF has been an organic dark chocolate bar I get at Trader Joe’s. Naturally I offer to share my bar with Milton but he prefers milk chocolate. He told me that the next time he eats a piece of my candy bar:

Milton: I’ll bring my own sugar to sweeten it.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

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61 responses to “Lame Adventure 435: Celebrity Stalking and the New York Film Festival

  1. Thanks for the shots and the synopses. Missed your calling. Should have been part of the Hollywood press corps.

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  2. Your powers of invisibility are astounding, good shots! I’m intrigued by Gone Girl. Hated the book but like Ben. The novel was really well written, made me hate the characters. The ending has given me fits and rants, still. Just awful. You’ve got a lot of viewing ahead!!

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    • Glad you liked the shots! Considering how much Milton and I love to watch, we’re very psyched about all the viewing we have ahead. In his review of Gone Girl in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, Anthony Lane wanted to spill more about the plot, but controlled himself in deference to the twenty-one who have not read the book. Include Milton and me in that minority. It will be interesting to know what you think of it when you see it.

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  3. Amazing how much your snap of Rosamund Pike looks like the professional pic on the Playbill!

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    • That was a completely lucky fool snap, Jeremy. She was standing on the sidelines waiting her turn to walk the red carpet. I was so fixated on trying to get Tyler Perry, I didn’t realize that I got her until Milton blurted, “You got Rosamund Pike!”

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  4. I say yum to dark chocolate, too. Keep working on that invisibility cloak. You’ll get there someday.

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  5. I’d say this was more of a ‘pretty darn interesting’ adventure and not lame at all. 🙂 From Nevada, the NYFF seems pretty glamorous.

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  6. OMG LA! I can’t wait to see you and Milton! We have 18 films, so we’re on! We missed this weekend altogether but my gut feeling about the Argento was: spawn of a grossly overrated schlockmeister? I don’t think so. I also, comme d’habitude, avoided anything by ancient nouvelle vague French sacred cows, so no Godard and no Resnais — you’ll have to give us the full report. We’ll have to see Gone Girl with the plebes, but we hope to compare notes with the incomparable, unmissable duo of you and Milton.

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    • Hey Enchilada, we were looking for you guys! Godard in 3D sold out faster than the speed of kvetching i.e., we couldn’t get tickets and Milton tried so hard! We’re hoping that they’ll add another screening of Inherent Vice. We missed the call the first time they added one. We were over the moon when we learned that “the secret screening” on Saturday was the next by Noah Baumbach starring Ben Stiller. We did the Ren and Stimpy Happy Happy Joy Joy dance when we learned that we passed on shelling out for that. We’ll continue to look for you and you continue to look for us. Between our eight eyeballs, hopefully we’ll connect. Or, instead of doing our best Marty Feldman impersonations, I suppose we could make it easy on ourselves and just text each other. We’re seeing The Blue Room tonight.

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  7. Grand Enchilada wrote a great comment.

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  8. Any post that opens with a mention of Rockets Redglare is destined to be a favorite of mine. Good stuff.

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  9. “girlhood” have you seen that movie Boyhood? I almost died, can’t remember last time I struggled so much to keep my eyes open.
    Wow, Asia looks so much like Winona
    I’m with Milton, yuck to super dark -bitter- chocolate.
    Have a nice week!

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    • No, I missed Boyhood, but I am sure that Milton saw it, Leo. That is so true that Asia does look a lot like Winona in that picture! Blame the haircut. I thought she looked very thought provoking in this butch guise and told Milton she gave me a ladyboner, but after seeing her film, I went flaccid. Dark chocolate has about as much appeal to Milton as liver.

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  10. Great reviews. Thanks. I think I’d like to see “Gone Girl.” I thank you and Milton. Looking forward to more reviews.

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  11. Thanks for the reviews. Having read Gone Girl I didn’t think there would be a reason to see the movie, but you have my interest peaked. The only problem I have with going out to a movie is that the lighting is too low to be able to stitch while I watch… I think I have an uncontrollable double tasking gene. Looking forward to more great reviews!

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    • Milton and I were so engrossed in that film, Terri, we both forgot that we were hungry as bears (eting while watching is how we multi-task). But since you’ve read the book, you will probably be more clued into the story … and maybe your mind could wander in the direction of wanting more light so you can stitch. The goal is to write at least a few words about every film we see over these two weeks as well as any pithy comments Milton might utter.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I once heard Juliane Moore described as “The made-for-tv Jodie Foster.”

    Her delightful sobriquet notwithstanding, RR’s declaration about invisible aging is depressing. I guess it’s one of those things I don’t want to be true. I sometimes (although not very often) wish I were less conspicuous.

    I would think you could easily pose as a photographer. Your photo makes you look kind of like a young Annie Liebowitz.

    Argento’s revelation that her given name is the same as the character’s is revealing. But I can understand her bafflement at the suggestion of autobiography. I once wrote a story where the main character had the same birthday as I do (it was important to the story) as well as sharing some other characteristics with me. A friend asked me if there were autobiographical elements in the story, and I told him honestly, “No.” I’ve wondered ever since if I was lying to the both of us.

    I don’t go to many movies, unfortunately (in the last year I’ve seen Movie 43, X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy; the latter three times–took my older boys separately as a treat). My youngest son is pretty severely autistic, so it’s tough for us to get out of the house together (although I did take my six-year-olds to their first concert on Saturday–Social Distortion!), so I’ll likely not see any of these movies until they hit Netflix, and even then we don’t watch much. But I’ve got to know–do you mean the little girl LITERALLY steps on a landmine (you mentioned suicide attempts), or as I suspect, do you mean that figuratively?

    Milton (at least as depicted by you) seems adorably fussy.

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    • Whoever said that about Julianne Moore was not much of a JM fan!

      I have always been a believer about writing about what you know, but I also believe that what you know should be a springboard for getting creative. In Asia Argento’s case, I think she was writing about what she knew, but she used that knowledge more as a springboard to attack everyone who slighted her in her childhood. At times the film seemed so amateur, like a junior year film student’s exercise in wish fulfillment. If she had the guts to dig deeper, this could have been a very good film. Sophia Coppola, a far more talented filmmaker, could have pulled it off. No nine-year-olds literally stepped on any landmines.

      If Milton knew you called him adorably fussy, he’d love that.

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      • I am seeing him soon this evening at another screening. I’ll let him know!

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      • “Whoever said that about Julianne Moore was not much of a JM fan!”

        Or perhaps, as I do, they they think Ms. Foster is superlative. I sometimes joke that I’d ***** the ********* for Jodie Foster (and if you know Ms. Foster’s history, you’ll know why I had to censor that on a blog where I’m free to say “fuck” & “shit” to my heart’s content).

        I do like Juliane Moore, though.

        And apologies for my Ben Affleck penis obsession on Twitter. What can i say? I love celebrity skin.

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  13. You know I’m reading your post through a green lens. I’m all envious! All those tickets, quite like the ones I got for TIFF. While I’m not a big fan of Ben Affleck, (BTW, Matt Damon must have given the cop a tip) I know I’ll be all excited seeing him and Rosamund Pike (quite like her) at the premiere of Gone Girl. I’ve been wondering how David Fincher would handle the twists and turns (don’t tell me), and keep the suspense, for all those who have read the book already. Of course, it’s all Gillian Flynn’s doing. Not too bad a career advancement and possible Oscar glory for a former EW writer. I know, she has her credentials, and talents. On another note, I’m with Milton about two things: Gone Girl being a modern day noir (my exact thought after watching the trailer), and milk chocolate. Lots more to say, but I better leave. This is your post. 😉

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    • I was hoping you’d stop by, Arti! Gone Girl is very well done and an excellent choice to launch this year’s NYFF. It’s big, entertaining, well made, cast and flat out riveting. Neither of us had read the book, which was to our advantage. Gillian Flynn’s script should be a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination for adapting her novel. It’s premature to predict who else will get nominated, but her script shines. But having David Fincher direct, that’s like winning Powerball.

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  14. Thanks for sleuthing the premier as air. It’s a good cover. I remember going to the Park City Film Festival and loving it too. They are fun. I was in the first audience to see Sex, Lies and Videotape. The whole audience knew it was special. You might have been 8 then, huh? Time and air has flown over my head.

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  15. I am so jealous!!!! How fun you got to do see this. Yes, that is a nice haul of tickets!! The filmmaker is Dario and Daria, the actress, so cute. I plan on seeing Gone Girl, of course. I’m so happy you thought it was so good. I would be so bummed to have to see a bad movie! I’m star struck just reading this post.

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    • this is one of the many reasons why Milton and I love living in NYC, Amy. Lincoln Center is flooded with red carpet events and filmmakers. Last night, Milton slipped into his cloak of invisibility and photographed Ethan Hawke. We’re having a great time!

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  16. I’m with Amy. You and Milton are out living on the edge, rubbing elbows with the stars (even if you are invisible) and we’re staring a computer screens reading while life zips on by.
    Connie did drag me down to Dickson St. Saturday night for the finale of Bikes, Blues, & BBQ. It is now the #2 bike rally in America (right behind Sturgis). The recipe is simple, throw half-a-million people in a wash tub, add beer, BBQ sauce, top with leather, and wash it all down with an unhealthy portion of ear-splitting noise and exhaust fumes. If it hadn’t been for the two gals reenacting a scene from “Girls Gone Wild” the entire trip would have been a total loss.

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  17. The chocolate must be responsible for your sleuthing powers. Of these, the Afleck movie seems to be one i may see. Enjoy the rest of the festival!

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  18. Good to find an opportunity for invisibility to work for you. It always works against me. I’m usually invisible in restaurants. In the sit-down type they take everyone else’s order and act like I’m not there, or if they do take my order they bring the wrong thing. The sort where you wait in line for someone on the other side of the counter to serve you are even worse because when I finally make it to the front of the line they look right through me and help the person behind.

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    • That’s some cloak you’re wearing! I bet you’d have no problem slipping out of one film and into another undetected at the multiplex. Not that I might have ever done that.

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      • I think anybody could do that. At least the ones I’ve been to, once you’re inside nobody tracks where you go. I haven’t tried it though, one movie is long enough for me to sit through and there’s not likely to be any others that I want to see anyway.

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        • In New York you can’t be overt about slipping into a screening and in some theaters out here: no way can you do it. Today I got stopped by the ticket police at the New York Film Festival even though my ticket for the film I was about to see had already been torn by this ticket-taker’s co-usher. I wouldn’t even think of sneaking in there!

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  19. Where is security when you need them? Aren’t those barricades meant to keep out the riff-raff? 😉
    I’m looking forward to seeing Gone Girl. The clips I’ve seen are terrific.

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  20. You two are just so cosmopolitan! I bow before your greatness. And I’m with Milton on the chocolate—milk it is. (One exception is See’s Candy. But only after I’ve completely scarfed down the milk chocolate ones first.)

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    • Milton and I are two very lucky movie maniacs, that’s for sure. We have been attending this festival for so many years, even one of the ticket takers gave me a heads-up-hello-type nod. Unless she thought I was a poorly dressed Fran Lebowitz lookalike.

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  21. “Modern film noir” sells me on that movie like nothing else. I’m in! 🙂

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  22. This was a great (albeit Lame) adventure! Maybe someday there will be a movie documentary about barking officers and their interaction with rubber neckers – I’d be all over that.

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  23. LA in NY!!! I really love the nuanced pixelation of those celebrity shots! The security guy’s arm and press corps framing the weirdly portraitlike shading, it all adds a certain je ne sais quoi… you have The Artistic Eye by the cameraful, you’re officially my favorite new york dweller now! 🙂

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  24. Holy crap! Looks like you had an awesome time at this event especially since you scored all those tickets. Plus there is the added bonus of seeing Gone Girl and Affleck in person. How cool was that whole experience! Glad you were able to go with Milton he always seems to be a fine partner in crime. Plus I’m loving the TJ’s chocolate.

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  25. Trees! Getting the best views of everything since the beginning of time!

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