By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Big-budget fantasies about asteroids and other kinds of 'roids be damned. This is going to be the summer of the documentaryspecifically, unsophisticated but affecting ones about natural disasters so out there that Hollywood can't reach them by cell phone. Tim Kirkman's upcoming Dear Jesseabout a gay guy's return to Helms territoryis so funny-but-touching it will have you coming out, even if you're not gay. Then there's a love letter to Hollywood swingers called Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's, at whose Tribeca Grill premiere party I mercilessly stuffed my face as restaurateur Drew Nieporent told me he likes the movie because it's not really about food. And Nick Broomfield'sKurt and Courtneyis the most talked-about pot pie of all, a crude but enjoyable romp that reveals Courtney Love to be not a murderer at all--just not very nice.
At the Mayflower last week, Broomfield looked worn out from cheapo Tower flights and a life of constant self-defense, but he was all too willing to crank it up once more for the press. "Distributors love you to make movies about blue-collar crimes or perverts--providing they're not rich entertainmentperverts," he complained to me. But delve into rock-star mayhem and the silence is only broken by something called Roxie Releasing. As everyone knows by now, free-speech advocate Courtney managed to get Kurt yanked from Sundance for its lack of music rights and/or overabundance of murder talk. But the film's made it through, albeit with different songs and what Broomfield calls "a straggling release, lurching very slowly from city to city."
Thankfully, our jaded town is among those allowed to ogle the flick's menagerie of poignant weirdos--from El Duce, the nutty, doomed hit man, to Courtney's peeved ex-boyfriend, who calls her "a kinder, gentler Charles Manson." The wildest scene has poignant weirdo Broomfield crashing the stage of an ACLU event to explain why their guest of honor--the media-threatening Courtney--might not be the queen of civil liberties. "I was more terrified than I've ever been," he admitted to me. "I remember looking at my hands and thinking, 'Whose arethese?' I was so pleased when they came up and got me. I was dying to be taken away!"
Of course, it was all worth it for Broomfield to confront the charismatic rock diva's apparent Hole in the head, though in interviews he strains to be diplomatic. Asked if he considers Love's Versace makeover a sellout, Broomfield said, "Maybe she needed to expunge her father. She physically resembles Hank, and I can understand her wanting to eradicate the last vestige of him." Yeah, but he'sprobably wearing Versace right now too.
The Brit filmmaker--who'll next tackle the David Begelman Hollywood check-forging scandal--is much fonder of his '96 subject, Heidi Fleiss, though he says they never became that intimate. "Heidi's a flirt who's not interested in sex," he insisted. "She used to say, 'I think sex is overrated. I can't understand what the fuck they're going on about.' " Heidi Fleiss doesn't like sex? What next--Bette Midler litters?
The nondocumentary world, meanwhile, is producing features that are almost as overrated as intercourse. The Truman Showturns out to be an intricate and at times clever conceit, but watching Jim Carrey perform in an invisible straitjacket is not that much fun (though the media's turning cartwheels of joy over having tamed him). I've worshiped Carrey from the beginning for his inspired silliness and the way he lets it play havoc with his pretty-boy looks. I've loved that the public discovered his gifts with a vengeance and the critics had to follow suit, grudgingly giving in to the loony cult of Carrey. Alas, these same highbrows suddenly turned on Carrey with '96's The Cable Guy,slamming him for being toodisturbing, reckless, and I guess brilliant, and this time the publicfollowed suit. They demanded more order and lovableness, which is just what they've gotten with the new Carrey, who's dabbling in "human" and dramatic situations in the name of career respectability. Yuck!
His scary torrents of hilarious excess behind him, Carrey's Truman is a naive mensch whose darkness is in his situation more than his psyche--and he's not very convincing. You long for him to break out, cut loose, staple his nose. You ache for him to just plain freak--and when he does, it rings false because he's trying to do so as a "real character." In the sinister Seahaven in his mind, Carrey had created his own reality and pathos--but of course our sick world forces the master comic to tone down and give birth to some nonexistent inner Tom Hanks. This is like telling Pavarotti to dance Swan Lake. Give me back my old Jim Carrey!
And my old, unguarded Eric Stoltz! See, journalists set to interview Stoltz about Mr. Jealousywere given a last-minute call by a publicist saying that if they so much as brought up his relationship with Bridget Fonda,the interview would be instantly terminated. I certainly hope this was because Eric suddenly finds the relationship too sacred to talk about, not too scarceto talk about. In any case, interviewers were still able to ask about the film--in which he plays a guy with a string of broken relationships!