Now I can tell you a story about Julian Schnabel's incredible movie Before Night Falls. Actor Javier Bardem won the IFP West Independent Spirit Award — and was nominated for an Oscar as well this year — for his extraordinary work as the late Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.
Director Schnabel also made the movie Basquiat. He is a daring guy and not adverse to trying some strange things.
In the book Before Night Falls, Arenas described his childhood in poverty in Cuba. But what was left out of the movie — or so I thought — were graphic recollections of bestiality. Arenas lays out, very specifically, his love-life as a child with cows, sheep and chickens.
I can't tell you how personally relieved I was that none of this was included in Schnabel's movie of the book. But now it turns out that some of those scenes were filmed!
A couple of weeks before the Academy Awards, Bardem confirmed for me that Schnabel shot scenes of a young Reinaldo making love to farm animals. Even stranger, the young Reinaldo was played in the movie by Schnabel's young son.
Thankfully, these scenes were "acted" — there was no actual congress between the youthful actor and the animals.
I suppose one day there will be a DVD version of Before Night Falls that will include these outtakes. (That should make us all vegetarians.) And then I suppose we will also hear from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. Until then, you can always read the book.
Last night the group Wilson Phillips reunited for one song — in memory of John Phillips and in honor of Brian Wilson.
Wendy Wilson, Carnie Wilson and Chynna Phillips performed "You're So Good to Me" at Radio City Music Hall as part of a TNT tribute to Brian Wilson. The show will be broadcast in July.
The three singers, who had a number of hits a decade ago but broke up after a lot of infighting, showed that they are still capable of stealing a show. Their performance was even more poignant because of Phillips' father's death just a week ago. Carnie Wilson nearly stopped the proceedings entirely. Since having her stomach re-sectioned the former fat girl has become an absolute knockout.
Among the other standout performances in the three-hour show were a rendition of the almost never heard "Surf's Up," Wilson's 1973 masterpiece. David Crosby and Vince Gill did a remarkable job of conveying this complex work. Bravo to them. Opera singer Jubilant Sykes put over a very stirring rendition of "Good Vibrations" with Ann and Nancy Wilson of the group Heart (no relation to the Beach Boys), and Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish nailed the buoyant "Sail on Sailor," another lost Beach Boys classic, with Matthew Sweet alternating lead vocals and harmonies. ...
Paul Simon's number, "Surfer Girl," may be cut entirely since it was painfully off-key. The performance would have benefited from Art Garfunkel's high notes, but since Simon has excluded him from all the recent tributes to him, that was not a possibility.
Depending on how the show is edited, TV audiences may be exposed to a certain amount of melancholy in this show. Dennis Hopper narrates a video memoir of Wilson's life that includes the abuse the singer suffered at his father's hand, and the early deaths of his two brothers. After performing "Heroes and Villians" live, Brian Wilson then also brought up his brothers' deaths. It was a little chilling.
Ricky Martin opened the show with "Help Me Rhonda" and "California Girls." He sported a Peter Pan haircut, extremely tight vinyl pants and a kind of a short shirt that skirted his midriff. If he's trying to ward off rumors about his sexuality, this was not the way to do it. He's starting to look more and more like Freddie Mercury in his heyday. Next stop for him may be the Liberace Lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton.
The best movie of 2001 — and quite possibly an Oscar nominee next year — is Christopher Nolan's remarkable Memento. This A-plus thriller told in reverse (it's so good, there aren't enough great ways to describe it) stars Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Ann Moss.
Last week Memento — which is being distributed by tiny Newmarket Releasing — grossed an amazing $18,000 per screen in 12 theaters. But is Newmarket capable of a wide release? Or will another, larger distributor convince these well-intentioned folks to let Memento have a wide national release and find the audience it deserves? If Memento is playing anywhere near you this weekend, run, don't walk, to see it. ...
Bridget Jones's Diary follows Memento into theaters next week, and it's the second terrific release of 2001. Already this year is shaping up as 100 percent better than the last. Bridget features three outstanding performances by Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. For Renee, who almost hit it big last year with Nurse Betty, Bridget should put her over the top — and then some. Zellweger gives both Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep a run for their money with her convincing English accent. For Miramax, which had a blah year in 2000, Bridget should be the start of a comeback that will include Gangs of New York, Four Feathers, The Shipping News, and Pinocchio.