Regarding "hinky," credit where it's due: There's a pretty funny conversation about the word "hinky" in 1993's "The Fugitive." It officially entered my vocabulary after that -- though I can never pronounce it with quite the same flair as Tommy Lee Jones.
At the Times, and at most publications, critics choose what they write about, in order of their position in the section's pecking order. Tony and Manohla are co-lead critics, so they alternate weeks taking first pick; whoever is second that week gets second pick. Stephen Holden picks from whatever Tony and Manohla didn't want. The "backup critic" (formerly me, now Jeannette) goes fourth. And any freelancers after that pick from what's left.
The great thing about being at the Voice or NYPress (where Armond White and I used to be co-lead critics before I quit in 2006, and alternated weeks calling first dibs) is that you could use your word count however you wanted and the editor never questioned you. One could write 1000 words on a big Hollywood release or give the entire column to some no-budget indie.
I have no idea if that's the case at the Times, never having been in that position there. I would like to think that Tony or Manohla have enough clout to give the lead slot to something unexpectedly small and/or foreign and/or unpromoted if they so desired -- in other words, a movie one does not expect to see written about at length on the front page of the section. But not having been in that position there, I have no idea if that's the case. There might be tremendous pressure to give the lead slot to a Hollywood movie (or an "art house" film that has been designated as important by virtue of winning a major film festival award). Or it might be entirely up to the critic. I just don't know.
It is unfortunate, though, that the most "desirable" films (judging from placement in the Times' Arts section) tend to be either Hollywood studio movies or small and/or foreign films by established auteurs. Off-the-radar films almost always end up relegated to the 150- to 250-word capsule ghetto, deep inside the Arts section, often below the fold, usually without a picture.
But the Times is hardly alone in weighting movies that way. And I guess filmmakers with no power should be grateful that the Times reviews such films at all. The other New York dailies have long since stopped pretending to care.
Sexzguy: It was originally shown on NBC in the US.
I'm not aware that it was available on VHS at any point -- not for sale, at least. I got tapes back in the day, but I was a critic and they were screeners. If anybody out there knows different, please chime in.
It's on DVD, in a box set.
That's what you call a high-maintenance kid.
Luke: The music is by my maternal grandmother, Hazel O. Volkart, who died in 1984. The recordings are taken from a compilation album recorded in a studio about six months before her death. She was in the advanced stages of bone cancer at the time and had horrendous arthritis to boot, and if you listen you can hear a few places where she hits the wrong note or gets the timing off. All in all, though, it's a pretty amazing performance under the circumstances, especially considering that my grandmother made it her mission in life to write stuff that would have given Franz Liszt carpal tunnel. None of the recordings are commercially available -- it's just a bunch of old archival family stuff. The final piece was recorded on a Realistic mono tape recorder placed atop my grandma's piano by my grandfather in about 1977. That voice you hear saying "Memories" is him calling the tune.
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