My cousin Stan noted this week ("The weekend box office") that Stephen Spielberg is now in his late-Frank-Capra phase and that this impacted West Side Story.
I think that's a good point. Capra was a manipulative director and he got worse and worse and worse as his career went along. The films get more and more hollow and less and less inspiring. Spielberg's a long, long way from JAWS. Inspiration has left and all that remains is manipulation.
So that's problem one.
Anson Elgort. He was so good in Baby Driver. But what he's most famous for since that film? From Wikipedia:
In June 2020, a woman on Twitter accused Elgort of sexually assaulting her in 2014, when she was seventeen and he was twenty. He denied the allegation in an Instagram post, saying that he and the woman had had a "brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship".
That's really not who you want to cast as a romantic male lead.
Lack of star power. A bunch of nobodies.
In 1961, the original film came out. West Side Story, at that point, had been a huge hit on Broadway. Jack Warner didn't say, "Let's put the Broadway cast on film!" No. He knew nobodies weren't going to cut it.
Rita Moreno was an often photographed Latina actress (she'd had no real box office on her own and was better known for her cheesecake photos than for her films). She was still better known than the Broadway cast.
But Jack Warner knew that the film needed a star. Someone who people would pay money to see. Natalie Wood was a big name. She'd been a child star. In 1955, she 'grew up' with Rebel Without A Cause and earned an Academy Award nomination. She followed that with one popular film after another (and with the classic The Searchers). West Side Story came out after her massive hit (and Academy Award nominated performance in) Splendor in the Grass. West Side Story came out before her massive hit Gypsy.
Natalie Wood was huge. Where was the huge star that Spielberg cast in his remake?
No where to be found.
I'm not done with why the remake flopped.
There's one more reason: Natalie Wood.
Mary Wilson was a jealous bitch. I wasn't sad at all when she died. She'd spent decades complaining about Diana Ross. It wasn't fair this or that over and over. The two were in the Supremes (first with Florence Ballard and then with Cindy Birdsong). This was unfair, that was unfair. Whine, whine, whine.
Reality, Mary was off partying while Diana was rehearsing. Over and over. Diana worked her ass off. Reality, most of the hit singles by Diana Ross & the Supremes? Mary didn't sing on them. She'd wanted to skip sessions when she was having her affair with Tom Jones. And Berry got a backing group to sing with Diana and no one noticed the difference. After that, he said Diana's a pro and backup singers were able to record faster than Mary so just bring in the Andettes or whomever to sing on the songs because the recordings will go much faster.
Now Mary didn't sing backup on "Someday We'll Be Together," for example. But bitch took the money, all her life she did.
How was that fair?
It never was but bitches only see others not their own actions.
Which brings us to 'lovely' Rita.
Rita was a real bitch. In the last ten years or so, we could pretend she'd mellowed because we hoped she had. But she didn't. And when she started making meaningless comments about Natalie in the last two years? Oh, hell no.
Bitch, don't front.
Rita hated Natalie Wood. She spent her life trashing her. She trashed her during the filming, she trashed her for years after. She was rude and curt and mean to her on set. She insulted Natalie to the cast over and over and called her an ''interloper'' who had stolen the role from the woman who played it on Broadway. Now why would Rita do that?
Two reasons. First, Rita was in the show on Broadway. So she was projecting.
Second, she was a jealous bitch.
Rita was never a star. Not on Broadway, not in film and not on TV.
She was a supporting actress. When she was the 'leading female,' the female role wasn't the main role (think The Ritz).
How much of a bitch is she?
When she won her Tony she had to gripe, on stage, that she wasn't a supporting actress -- she was still in a snit fit -- as she had won the award -- because she wasn't nominated in the lead category.
That's the griping little bitch that she was and that she is.
Rita thought she could rewrite history and pretend, to promote the reboot, that she was friends with Natalie and that she liked Natalie and blah, blah, blah.
Rita was a second string performer who was jealous of Natalie the entire time Natalie was alive and even after Natalie died.
Fans of the original movie (I am one) know the history and we didn't take to Rita trying to rewrite history and trying to present herself as something other than what she was.
Rita was a well known supporting actress. She was not a lead. She couldn't sell tickets and she couldn't get viewers to tune in as a lead. She failed anytime she stepped into a leading role.
Why? She didn't have the quality needed to be a star.
And now, as her life winds down, she's still lashing out at others for that reason. That hideous documentary that Norman Lear made of her/ It's about a bitter woman. Ava and C.I. reviewed it "TV: Xenophobia and racism alive and thriving thanks to PBS and Norman Lear." They noted how she rewrote history in that. And they're right but what stood out to me the most from watching it was how bitter she was. She's bitter about her late husband. She's bitter about Marlon Brando. She's just a bitter woman with a chip on her shoulder and, no, that's not attractive.
And the more she speaks publicly, the more bitter she comes off.
I like to picture the ghost of Natalie Wood smiling as Rita, trying to act as though she's the voice of West Side Story today instead ends up failing and the film she's promoting fails with her.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
A West Michigan Marine who was paralyzed in Iraq died Monday at the age of 39 due to complications from his injury.
“He was an inspiration to all of us,” said Bill White, friend of Marine Cpl. Joshua Hoffman.
The Hastings resident was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet while fighting in Iraq in 2007.
“Shots rang out and they all hit the ground and so did Josh,” White said. “But Josh got shot through the back of his neck.”
Hoffman grew up in the Wayland area and joined the Marine Reserves in 2002, hoping to earn money for college. He planned to be a pilot.
He was part of the Grand Rapids-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. He was sent to Iraq’s Anbar province in October 2006, where he was attached to the battalion’s Weapons Company in Fallujah.
Cpl. Hoffman was hit in the early morning of Jan. 6, 2007, as he pursued an insurgent. The bullet entered his neck and exited his shoulder blade, shattering his upper spine.
It’s 6 p.m. and the pink-tinged skies turn black above Agolan, a village on the outskirts of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Thick plumes of smoke have begun to billow out of dozens of flaring towers, part of an oil refinery owned by an Iraqi energy company called the KAR Group. The towers are just about 150 feet from where 60-year-old Kamila Rashid stands on the front porch of her house. She looks squarely at the oil plant, which sits on what she says used to be her family’s land.
Rashid was born here, like her parents before her and her children after her. She says when KAR moved into the area, residents traded their land for KAR’s promise of jobs and reliable, less expensive electricity for the village. The land was handed over, Rashid says, but she maintains that KAR never provided the promised electricity or long-term jobs.
The towers, also called flare stacks, are used by oil refineries across the globe to burn the byproducts of oil extraction. Such flaring releases a menagerie of hazardous pollutants into the air, including soot, also known as black carbon. “The smoke coats our skin and homes with black soot,” says Rashid. Many villagers keep their windows shut and try to remain indoors whenever possible.
Iraq’s sky now rains dust and pollutants. The land between the Tigris and the Euphrates no longer gets enough rain to save the country from droughts, which have devastated local communities and agricultural supply chains, spurring a tide of migration.
The situation has deteriorated rapidly over the past two decades, with Turkey and Iran restricting the flow of water via dams and other infrastructure. Water has effectively been transformed into a political tool, while sand and dust storms are becoming more frequent across Iraq; it has been estimated that the country could experience 300 such storms a year by 2023.
Today, as Iraq celebrates the centenary of its founding as a modern state, its ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. As water flows in rivers decline dramatically, Iraq is expected to become one of the world’s most water-stressed countries by 2040, with a forecasted rating of 4.6 out of 5, indicating extremely high stress. At the same time, Iraq is contributing to global warming, with the International Energy Agency reporting that the country accounts for around eight percent of world methane emissions.
Iraq’s environment ministry has acknowledged the ongoing climate crisis, which threatens to make Iraq unliveable over the next two decades due to excessive heat, drought, scarcity of water reserves, desertification and loss of biodiversity - all of which are wreaking havoc on food security chains.
Oh well, the really corrupt already have homes outside of Iraq, so they'll just leave the country when things get too bad. It's not like they ever cared about the Iraqi people, after all. Tehir actions while in power made that perfectly clear. If they're not going to work to improve the present lives of the Iraqi people, why should the corrupt worry about the future of the Iraqi people?
WHich brings us to the zaftig Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shi'ite cleric who never a mumu or caftan he didn't decide to buy on eof in each color. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:
Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said on Wednesday his country will form a national government free of external influences after the ratification of election results that confirmed gains for the Shiite leader.
Mr Al Sadr's coalition secured 73 of the Parliament's 329 seats in the national elections, gaining more than any other party and up from 54 in 2018 polls.
“In the name of God ... a government of national unity, neither eastern nor western,” Mr Al Sadr said on Twitter after meeting with leaders of the Iraqi Co-ordination Framework, the umbrella group of Shiite parties contesting the election’s results.
The human rights organization International Amnesty (AI) called a “parody of justice” the decision of the High Court of London to authorize the extradition to the US of Assange. “It is a parody of justice … The court decided to accept the incorrect assurances of the United States that Assange would not be subjected to solitary confinement in a prison with harsh prison regime,” declared AI director for Europe, Nils Muiznieks.
The eventual extradition of Julian Assange to the United States jeopardizes the principles of media freedom, said a spokesman for the International Federation of Journalists. Assange’s extradition to the United States would endanger not only his life, but also the fundamental principles of freedom of the press. The association will support any effort by Assange’s legal team to challenge this court ruling, “the spokesperson said.
Two years later, Washington Post reporter David Finkel published The Good Soldiers, a book based on his time embedded in the 2-16 battalion.
Finkel was with the soldiers in the al-Amin al-Thaniyah neighbourhood when they heard the Apache helicopters in action. He defended the U.S. military, writing that “the Apache crew had followed the rules of engagement” and that “everyone had acted appropriately.” The soldiers, Finkel wrote, were “good soldiers, and the time had come for dinner.”
In his recounting, Finkel made it clear that he had watched a video of the incident, even as the U.S. government denied its existence to Reuters and to human rights organizations.
On Jan. 5, 2010, Chelsea Manning, a U.S. soldier in Iraq, downloaded a tranche of documents and videos pertaining to the war onto compact discs and took them back with her to the United States.
On Feb. 21, 2010, Manning passed on the material related to Iraq to the WikiLeaks organization, which had been set up in 2006 by a group of engaged people led by an Australian national by the name of Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks and Assange went through the footage and published the full video from the Apache helicopters on their website under the title “Collateral Murder” on April 5, 2010.
In 2010, McCord told Wired’s Kim Zetter what he had witnessed:
“I have never seen anybody being shot by a 30-millimetre round before. It didn’t seem real, in the sense that it didn’t look like human beings. They were destroyed.”
In the van, McCord and the other soldiers found Sajad Mutashar (age 10) and Doaha Mutashar (age 5) badly injured; their father, Saleh was dead on the ground.
In the video, the pilot saw that there were children in the van; “Well,” he said callously, “it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle.” When WikiLeaks released the video, then 12-year-old Sajad Mutashar said, “I want to get our rights from the Americans who harmed us.”
His mother, Ahlam Abdelhussein Tuman, said, “I would like the American people and the whole world to understand what happened here in Iraq. We lost our country and our lives were destroyed.” They were met with silence. Sajad, who recovered partly from his injuries, was killed by a car bomb in Baghdad in March of 2021.
Robert Gibbs, press secretary for former U.S. President Barack Obama, said in April 2010 that the events depicted in the video were “extremely tragic.”
But the cat was out of the bag. This video showed the world the actual character of the U.S. war on Iraq, which United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called illegal.