Owen Wilson Heals in Public

Advice from grannies and trannies; other topics are glossed over

A typically atypical week on the circuit involves a kebab competition, a play about postage stamps, a movie about a guy who blinks out his memoirs, and a party for gay black people. But it starts, of course, with a catchup session with comic legend Roseanne Barr, who's bringing her dry wit and welcome outrage to Comix (October 3), before hauling over it to Foxwoods and the House of Blues in Atlantic City. Does the domestic goddess tackle current events in her act? "Hell, yes," Roseanne told me by phone last week. "I don't like the Bush administration at all. I think they're Satan worshippers. We could get drunkards off the street or out of an insane asylum and get a better job done." But I thought that's exactly what we did!

"It's time for all governments to be replaced by a tribunal of grandmothers," continued rockin' Roseanne. "You're starting to sound like Sally Field," I cracked, ever nimble with the contempo references. "I think she sounds like me," she replied. "And I said grandmothers, dear. Who cares about mothers? They're a dime a dozen."

Roseanne may be a little partial because she happens to be the grandma of four boys—not that those are the only men in her life. "I've got a real nice boyfriend," she revealed to me. "He's old. I like 'em old. They're slowed down a little, they're not so rabid. They're less threatening and frightening." Hmm, maybe we have a new Anna Nicole in the making here? "I wonder if I could get me one of them old billionaires," said Roseanne, cracking up. "I don't think so. I think you've got to have a waist!"

Mega dosa: Thiru Kumar, winner of the 2007 Vendy Award. More of Elena Dahl's photos from the competition here.
photo: Elena Dahl
Mega dosa: Thiru Kumar, winner of the 2007 Vendy Award. More of Elena Dahl's photos from the competition here.

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More importantly, Roseanne has a blog (on roseanneworld.com), and in fact she had it way before Rosie started free (per-)versing. "After 13 years, I have 2,500 registered users," Roseanne admitted. "But it's cathartic for me to write. I use my site as my laboratory. There's an unceasing barrage of bullshit out there. People are addicted to bullshit in this country. They'd rather give up their children than give up bullshit." Even their grandchildren. But Roseanne swears she won't make any of this go down easier with the help of medication. "I'm depressed," she said, "but I'm OK with it. There's a war, no water, and no air. Maybe you're supposed to be depressed?"


A STROKE OF GENIUS

You want to really be down in the dumpster? Have a stroke and become completely paralyzed except for one eyelid, which you'll frantically blink whenever you need someone to dictate your life story to. That happened to editor Jean-Dominique Bauby—but at least he got a film out of it, namely Julian Schnabel's lovingly made The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. (And at least his plight wasn't as bad as my own worst nightmare, which is that someday I'll only be able to communicate by blinking my anus.)

At a New York Film Festival–related dinner for the film, I asked Schnabel if perchance we all have "locked-in syndrome," as it were. "I think we're all capable of it," he said. "We're all prisoners of our bodies. There's no getting out. It's getting accustomed to being inside—which doesn't have to be a bad thing. What Bauby achieved was amazing."

At this point, a party guest who wasn't paralyzed ran over and breathlessly told Schnabel, "I loved the movie. I hope you make millions!" "I don't care about that," said the artist/director, who's already got the cash. But back to my livelihood: How did they get star Mathieu Amalric to look so facially contorted? "We put something in his mouth to make it bend," said Schnabel, "then glued the lip down. With one eye closed and the other with a lens on it, he couldn't see or speak." Hey, let's try it on Paris Hilton.

(Sidebar: I hear that in Repo! The Genetic Opera, Paris will play an heiress—you heard me—who has face-lift after face-lift until her face literally falls off. She was hired, by the way, for her singing ability—by the horrormeister who did the Saw sequels!)

The festival had already served disability chic with its opening-night distraction, Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, a typically deadpan adventure featuring rich weirdos going out of their leagues (and minds) on a family quest. The film veers between arid humor, Three Stooges slapstick, and strained profundity, all while looking downright painterly. The main lurid appeal is in Owen Wilson's eerily suicidal character, who's bandaged and pained-looking from the beginning, his eyes looking even deader than the paralyzed guy from the last film. It's especially poignant when he takes off the bandages and, seeing all the cuts and scars, says, "I guess I've still got some more healing to do." Replies brother Adrien Brody, "It's definitely gonna add a lot of character to you!"

Yet more family fights populate Mauritius, Theresa Rebeck's Broadway play—an original one, thank God—about value, ownership, and con games on the stamp circuit. The production features a top cast (especially Bobby Cannavale) and some crackling monologues, though all the screaming and scheming about postage stamps ultimately make you go a little postal.

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