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The Public I

Thanks to those who came out to the Q&A with Stanley Tucci at the tony Hamptons Film Festival last weekend: I know you were there for him, but you sent some like my way, too, which isn't always the case. Talking to him, I remembered why I like actors so much. Most of the good ones are smart and engaged and find the right balance between being self- and other-directed. Most. And thanks to that convivial wild man Elias Koteas for the warm shout-out at the much briefer Q&A following the screening of Eric Mendelsohn's entrancingly beautiful 3 Backyards. It was fascinating to see Edie Falco (who, like Koteas, is stunningly good) up close. She's bullshit-free and not especially cerebral, so she can't tap-dance through interviews the way most celebrities can. Plus, she's worn out answering the same questions. When I asked if she'd been able to use her fame to help out struggling (Purchase) college pals like Mendelsohn and Hal Hartley, she complained that promoting their films was a drag because all people wanted to talk about was the last episode of The Sopranos. That's when I piped up, "Well, now that you mention it — " and the audience laughed and she remained stone-faced, her eyes signaling, "Don't fucking start."

After that, Armond White and I were presenters at the awards ceremony, a bizarre experience that left me vowing never to make fun of people who screw up what seem like such simple duties again.

On another front, I forgot to mention I was on Turner Classic Movies last night chatting with Robert Osborne about two of the films that changed my life, The General and Smiles of a Summer Night. I also forgot to watch — I was out seeing some glum Swedish chick with rings in her nose kicking a hornets' nest for 148 very long minutes. I hope I didn't come off as too much of a babbling idiot — always a danger. Looking at some of the other critics' choices, I'm sad that mine seemed so mainstream ... But the TCM people picked two from a list of ten I gave them, and Kim Morgan got (and clearly was better suited to) Something Wild.* Jonathan Demme's film was important to me because the first time I saw it, I questioned its progression from giddy farce to bloody melodrama. It took a few months and another viewing for me to realize that Demme and E. Max Frye earned that violence, that the dark side of the screwball comedy genre (so liberating, so dangerous) was there all along. I wonder if I can make the same case (artistically justified self-mutilation) for Jackass 3-D on CBS News Sunday Morning this weekend ...

*CORRECTION: Whoopsie! Apparently the Something Wild that Kim Morgan introduced last night was not Jonathan Demme's. So TCM should have taken my suggestion and made it a double bill: Something Wild and Something Wild. Anyway, I wish I'd seen it (and her) (and me) instead of those stultifying Swedes.

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