Asia Argento’s Claim of Talent: Deceitful Above All Things

August 27, 2018

By Karen

Still trying to wrap my head around Asia Argento’s alleged statutory rape of Jimmy Bennett in 2013, and Anthony Bourdain’s alleged participation in the cover-up earlier this year, I just watched the movie that spawned the whole mess. In 2004, Argento cast Bennett in The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things when he was 7 years old. It’s available for free on Amazon Prime.

Bennett plays young Jeremiah, and Argento plays Sarah, his drug-addicted prostitute mother. Argento also received script credit and directed the film, set in West Virginia.

How Argento got the rights to this “JT Leroy” story by sleeping with the woman who masqueraded as Leroy, and then cheated on Leroy to “his” face by sleeping with a man is a story in itself. Basically, it’s another example of Argento’s now well-recognized schtick of using people for her own ends before shitting all over them.

Back to the movie. Here’s the trailer (Bennett is the youngest boy)…

In badly fitting blonde wigs, Argento’s hit-or-miss Southern accent is the extent of her acting. The rest is pretty much her typical behavior as she’s posted it on Instagram for years.

In a nutshell, the story celebrates child abuse in myriad forms. Sarah makes Jeremiah her captive audience to watch her smoke, drink, do drugs, and have sex with strangers whenever he isn’t being tortured.

The photography includes lots of shots of Argento on all fours poking her barely-clad ass at the camera as if she considers it her best feature.

Jimmy Bennett looks scared, sad and finally numb throughout his portion of the film. Fortunately, his gig is done and he’s replaced by two older twins before a man rapes the Jeremiah character.

The rape scene may be the film’s most tasteful bit, with Argento stepping in to play Jeremiah’s fantasy that he’s Sarah. What, you didn’t think for a moment Argento would have a sex scene in her movie without her, did you?

Afterward, the only indication of “how it went” is Jeremiah trying to wash blood from stained frilly panties.

In one climactic scene, Sarah makes this speech to Jeremiah. It’s easy to imagine Asia spitting these words at Tony during one of their arguments…

“You think I need you? You’ve done nothing but ruin everything. Always. I sacrificed so much for you, you shitty bastard. I could have been something. I had to give it all up for you. By myself I’ve always landed on my feet. Never forget that.”

Making the film gave Argento an opportunity, in the name of art, to experiment with destroying a child. Four years later, in 2008, she gave birth to her son, Nicola. In 2013, before Nicola was 5, Argento allegedly had sex with Jimmy, the boy she knew best when he was only 7.

We’re left with 97 minutes of film showing how coarse, cruel and slutty Argento can be. It boggles the mind to think Anthony Bourdain ever watched it and found it impressive work.

Jimmy Bennett’s upbringing must have been nightmarish for his parents to allow his participation in this travesty, and then to allow him to keep in touch with the woman responsible.

BONUSES: Here’s a 2006 review still available online by Jeremy C. Fox at Pajiba that discusses the Leroy book and gives the movie and Argento much more credit than I do, but he’s ultimately disappointed.

Snippets of dozens of professional reviews are at Rotten Tomatoes, but I found most full versions no longer accessible.

Oops! Just found another one from 2006 by Ty Burr at The Boston Globe. Enjoy — or puke!

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More Bits on Bourdain’s Last Months from WSJ

July 11, 2018

By Karen

Some new information about Anthony Bourdain’s last months has been out there in an extensive interview by Howie Kahn in the Wall Street Journal, but I only recently found it.

It was published online March 28 under the title, “Anthony Bourdain’s Globalist Mission.” (I got to view it once, then got blocked for not being a subscriber, so take your chances.)

A print version published in April was entitled, “The Man Who Ate It All.” These are the bits new to me that I gleaned from it.

Tony was living alone on the 64th floor in a Midtown Manhattan apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the city and the Hudson River.

At 11:30 a.m., he was already drinking beer (and smoking). It must have been early January when Trump called African countries “shitholes” because Kahn described Tony’s January 17 appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as if he were there.

Parts Unknown was the highest rated cable news program in its time slot and nominated for 25 Emmys, with five wins.

Tony said, “Am I searching, am I seeking, am I always looking for something more? Yes! I do this for no other reason.”

He had hung photos of Fidel Castro and Iggy Pop on the walls, but his bedroom walls were bare. Perhaps that’s where he was planning to hang his newly acquired paintings from Jacques Pepin and “The Sky is Falling. I’m Learning to Live with It.”

Kahn wrote that Tony and Asia Argento “had fallen in love while shooting the Rome episode.” (April 2016) He goes on…

“In retrospect, it was also an extended first date, and one Bourdain thought was coming to an end too soon amid the fascist architecture. ‘It was a very sad scene,’ he says. ‘I think both of us thought it overwhelmingly likely that we would never see each other again.’”

If only.

The article said Tony’s marriage to Ottavia was ending, and by the time he met Argento, “he’d given up on the concept of romantic love. ‘I was dead,’ he says.”

This confirmed my belief that the affair began when he and Argento were together in Rome and served as an impetus for separating from Ottavia in September. (In December 2016, he drew up his will leaving the bulk of his estate to daughter Ariane.)

Tony also mentioned the book he was working on, described as…

“A collection of essays, many of which will touch on the theme of loneliness — will be more emotional than anything he’s ever attempted.”

Was it finished enough to publish? Will his co-author Laurie Woolever be able to finish it? Time will tell.

Tony said he was also trying to line up financing for a scripted TV project, but only revealed that each season of it would have taken place in different locales, like New York, Berlin and Tokyo.

The interview ended with Kahn asking Tony if he was ever exhausted and would like more balance in his life. Tony said…

“Too late for that. I think about it. I aspire to it. I feel guilty about it. I yearn for it. Balance? I f–cking wish.”

Tony added that he once told Ariane he might quit his job in a few years to spend more time with her, but she burst into tears, saying, “But Dada, your job is so interesting!”

This conversation may have happened around the time Tony told People magazine that he’d probably “die in the saddle.”

My takeaway is that Bourdain had wearied of his globe-trotting and wanted a way out but couldn’t find one. Argento gave him periodic breaks where he could stay still and be happy for a few days. But then she yanked those out from under him in the most public and humiliating way possible.

It leaves a conundrum for his fans. We loved his body of work and wanted it to keep growing, but it had stopped making him happy. The more we learn, the more his suicide seems to become the inevitable end of his life’s arc, rather than the tragedy of an impulsive moment.

Reader Morgan sent these two photos from Facebook of Tony and Ottavia in happier times, as I prefer to think of them…

PS: Last week I saw Drugstore Cowboy, the movie about a junkie couple that Bourdain always likened to his marriage to Nancy. Near the end, Matt Dillon (Tony) makes a speech that seems to explain Tony’s inexplicable, fatal attraction to Argento…

“Nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to ‘em for years, but sooner or later they’re going to get hold of something. Maybe it’s not dope. Maybe it’s booze. Maybe it’s blue. Maybe it’s gasoline. Maybe it’s a gunshot to their head. But something, something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.”

Whenever someone dies, their raison d’etre is instantly frozen in time. They can add nothing to their persona or philosophy of life. Those left behind can only dissect what the person ever did or said to form a conclusion about who they were and why they’re gone. We’ve reached that point with Bourdain, and he would hate it.


Trump’s Gaslight Strategy Doomed to Backfire

July 13, 2017

By Karen

Did you ever see that movie, Gaslight? Charles Boyer tries to drive Ingrid Bergman mad by moving and hiding things, telling her that all her perceptions are wrong, and accusing her of losing touch with reality until she’s reduced to a basket case.

Boyer’s despicable behavior is a recognized thing called “gaslighting.” Merriam-Webster defines it as…

“To attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation).”

Donald Trump has been trying to gaslight the whole United States.

In the latest attempt, the New York Times poked the administration’s smoldering tire fire until it sparked into Donald Trump Jr.’s email chain documenting his eagerness to hear the Russian government’s dirt on Hillary Clinton — with invitations to Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to listen in.

We’ve lost count of all the shady meetings between Trumpers and Russians we now know about, but finally there’s rock-solid proof in black and white that the Trump campaign wanted Russia’s help.

I think Junior was more stupid than evil. He doesn’t consider Russians an enemy because they’ve supported his family for years. Quoting from a story in Time magazine…

“‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,’ Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008, according to a trade publication, eTurboNews.”

Trump Sr. praised Junior for his “transparency” in releasing his emails in true gaslight style, omitting Junior’s longstanding lies and denials about his Russian connections.

Now Trump calls the whole matter “fake news.”

Uh, when the evidence is written, and the guy who wrote and published it says it’s authentic, it’s called REAL news. And it doesn’t help Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

Trump probably doesn’t care if Manafort gets toasted; he quit the campaign and made millions from Russians. But Kushner faces serious jail time, and spoiled, baby-faced brats typically don’t thrive in the big house.

You know Trump never read the emails himself nor, if he had, grasped how damning they are. He mistakenly believed if Junior tossed them out there with a defiant, “Now what are you going to do about it?” they would sink into oblivion because Junior doesn’t work in government and he can play with whomever he likes.

But Junior’s role in dad’s campaign may make them something criminal. Lawyers will figure that out.

So, trying to gaslight every U.S. intelligence agency, Trump now claims that Putin really wanted Hillary to win because she’d weaken the military. He doesn’t try to make even a little bit of sense anymore.

Whenever it finally penetrates Trump’s skull that precious Jared is in serious doo-doo thanks to Junior, he’ll be turning up the gas full-blast and Junior may realize Dad has a favorite — and it isn’t him.

That may drive Junior straight into the arms of another father figure, Robert Mueller, which can only be a good thing.

When the truth comes out, this nightmare ends, and justice is served, imagine Charles Boyer as Trump in his last desperate moments and Ingrid Bergman as the American people who are fed up with his games…


Bourdain’s Got a Bone in the Throat: the Movie

March 20, 2015

By Karen

Not all fans may know that Anthony Bourdain was a chef/moonlighting novelist before he hit bestsellerdom with his nonfiction restaurant exposé, Kitchen Confidential, in 2000.

Bourdain published his first crime novel, Bone in the Throat, in 1995, followed in 1997 by another one, Gone Bamboo.

Over the past few years, Bourdain’s career hit critical mass and now he’s on a roll, with one success after another. I knew he’d arrived when his birthday appeared last year in the “Born This Day” list of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Anyway, actor Ed Westwick plays Will Reeves (called Tommy Pagana in the book), an aspiring chef who works under this guy, whom I don’t believe ever gets named…

The chef, the tallest one, was pale and thin, with long brown hair that curled out from under his chef’s hat. He held a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and was turning the pages furiously. He wore the hat high on his forehead and pulled straight back like a skullcap. A cigarette dangled from his mouth.

In chapter 18, we get more description of this chef…

His face in the bathroom mirror was pale and bloodless. Tiny pupils floated around in watery, bloodshot eyes. His thick brown hair was too long, sticking up at odd angles, and his sideburns were uneven…. One tooth was missing on the right side, but you couldn’t see it; there was one crumbling molar on the left, also invisible to the casual observer, and a chipped eyetooth.

The chef moved his eyes down over his naked, bony chest: protruding ribs, the stomach that was showing the beginnings of a paunch. He examined his arms. There were no tracks to speak of, only a small, yellowish bruise in the crook of his left arm.

Remind you of anyone we know?

Well, I’m sure the paunch must be gone since he took up MMA and lost 30 lbs., and his arms are now covered with tattoos.

The story for the movie was transported from Manhattan to London’s East End for some reason, and premiered March 14 at a film festival at the Alamo Ritz in Austin, Texas. Here’s the trailer…

The Austin Chronicle gave it a positive review.

Variety, not so glowing.

The movie’s official website includes some recipes, although food isn’t a central character.

I doubt this flick will ever make it to a Richmond screen, but that gives me time to reread the book before I get my hands on it.

Having read both novels years ago, I remember little about the plots. But I do recall laughing out loud at Bourdain’s sharp dialogue and vivid, witty descriptions of the seedy gangster underworld his imagination dwelled in.

Diving back into his fiction is one task on my To-Do list that I eagerly look forward to doing.


Only One Appropriate Response to North Korea

December 19, 2014

By Cole

Does North Korea’s childish hijacking of the satirical comedy, The Interview, remind anybody else of that annual Dr. Seuss holiday special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

If you’ll recall, the big, bad Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small crept into the village of Whoville on Christmas Eve and stole all the trees, decorations, and presents.

And what did the Whos do when they woke up robbed? They celebrated Christmas anyway.

As Americans, we need to take a page from the Whos’ playbook.

Granted, The Interview’s best moments may have already been shown in the promo clips before Sony shelved the film. But since when do we let a Kim Jong-un tell us what’s entertainment?

Or cower at a threat from faceless hackers that reads like a satire of itself:

Warning

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.

More to come…

George Clooney is right. If we let North Korea win this point, where does it end? We might as well shelve the First Amendment.

The movie chains and Sony need to grow a pair and release The Interview on Christmas Day — in theaters, on DVD, and on demand. And movie-goers should make like Whos and watch it — and laugh even at the lame parts.

If Kim Jong-un can’t find it in that shriveled little raisin he calls a heart to laugh with us, then we can laugh at him.

PS to the hackers: If you want Americans to take your threats seriously, learn English.


Bourdain to Jump Ship to CNN

May 29, 2012

By Karen

I haven’t written about Anthony Bourdain lately because No Reservations is leaving me meh, but attention must be paid to today’s announcement that No Res is wrapping up after current Season 8 and he’ll be leaving Travel Channel after filming one more season of The Layover. In 2013 he’ll begin a Sunday prime-time series on CNN and become a domestic and international commentator.

Here at Cats Working, we’ve been saying for a long time that he’s too good for TC, but I’m not sure CNN is good enough for Bourdain. What do you think?

This just in (5/30): The CNN arrangement calls for Bourdain to produce 8 shows in 2 seasons each year, or a total of 16 episodes. Will an 8-week “season” be enough to  hook viewers so they’ll remember to return 6 months later for more? Hmmm…

Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmern, who’s been lately talking like Bourdain’s mini-me, must be giddy at the prospect of inheriting Tony’s crown as the “grand old man” of TC.

CNN’s news release describes Tony’s as-yet-unnamed program as one that “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals.”

I certainly hope this implies something more substantive than another opportunity for Tony to globe-trot, eat, drink, and shoot his mouth off.

Will CNN try to rein in Bourdain’s tendencies to stir up controversy? At last weekend’s Great GoogaMooga Festival in Brooklyn, Tony talked about doing unspeakable (if well-deserved) things to Dick Cheney and expressed a desire to soak an Olive Garden in gasoline so he could burn it to the ground over its pasta-cooking techniques.

Apparently, he’s forgotten the heartfelt review of the new Grand Forks Olive Garden that got him so misty-eyed, he handed a publishing deal to its 85-year-old author that’s probably doomed to produce a book to make Garrison Keillor seem like a pornographer in comparison.

Gothamist did a good job of putting Tony’s kind gesture into its proper Photoshopped perspective.

Tony’s long-awaited graphic novel, Get Jiro! is finally coming out July 3.

And someone is adapting his first novel, Bone in the Throat, into a movie.

Bourdain received an honorary Clio Award on May 15. I congratulate him, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the rationale behind it.

I’d say Bourdain’s career has hit critical mass. Like Paula Deen, whatever he touches, whether past, present or future, is destined to turn to gold.

Speaking of Paula, Tony tried to clarify that he objects to her misleading fans and profiting richly from diabetes, while Paula and her kids disingenuously spin it that Bourdain blames her for having diabetes.

BONUS…

A few other things I’ve collected that may interest you:

Tony told Eater he’s still considering the year-in-Vietnam book, but opened the possibility of relocating it to Italy. YES, YES! Eater “gets” Tony, and their interview is well worth reading. In 2 parts.

Here are the first batch of books Tony has chosen to publish under his new Ecco imprint.

Ottavia’s become a celebrity in her own special niche. Here’s are some links to video interviews on how she got into MMA.


Dark Shadows Movie: DOA

May 12, 2012

By Karen

I hated the comical advertisements for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows movie, but I couldn’t stay away opening day.

I should have.

I’m not doing spoilers, but will say this DS was neither an homage nor a mockery of the show. Rather, it’s a cynical hijacking of well-known, beloved characters, locations, and plotlines that enabled Burton & Co. to skip creating their own.

I don’t care what fans they’ve claimed to be. They obviously didn’t know the basics–right down to the name of servant Willie Loomis.

Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith doesn’t know sh** about vampires. Since when do their fingers grow when they turn? And walk freely in daylight with sunglasses and umbrellas (á la Michael Jackson)? And not notice themselves bursting into flame in direct sunlight?

Johnny Depp’s decision to play Barnabas Collins channeling Nosferatu doomed the movie. When the “real” Barnabas (Jonathan Frid) was freed from his coffin in a new century, he noted changes in people’s behavior, speech, and dress, and did his best to fit in—albeit with a suave and courtly Old World flair. The FIRST thing he would have done was CUT HIS DAMN FINGERNAILS.

Depp’s Halloweeny white greasepaint with black eye sockets and cheeks made it impossible to believe that Victoria Winters—or even the witch Angelique—could be attracted to him.

And speaking of Victoria, the governess. As the reincarnation of Barnabas’ love, Josette, Bella Heathcote was woefully miscast. She looks about 12 and they dressed her like a child, so in her scenes with the boyishly-built Depp, they looked like 6th-graders. Zero sexual chemistry.

Eva Green played Angelique as sexually agressive trailer trash in designer labels. Her centuries-old beef with Barnabas drove the whole story, but Depp’s goofy looks killed whatever sparks might have been there.

Helena Bonham Carter had to play Dr. Julia Hoffman as a boozer for no reason, and her growing co-dependency with Barnabas got no screen time, so her behavior just seemed shallow and wacky.

I’ll give credit to Michelle Pfeiffer, who played matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. She lacked Joan Bennett’s regal presence, but she didn’t make the character ridiculous.

The overall film was extremely dark. The comic bits used in the ads were forced and fell flat.

This could have been a good movie if Depp hadn’t made Barnabas a buffoon. He even carried an cheap wooden knockoff of Barnabas’ elegant brass wolf’s head cane.

The original Dark Shadows’ may have had cheesy production values, but the actors gave it something this film, with its multimillion-dollar budget, utterly lacked—heart and class.

Depp and Burton had a chance to resurrect the franchise for original fans and a new generation, but they blew it. Big-time.


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