Category Archives: film reviews

The Horror of Armie Hammer.

My parathyroids were having a fit.

A cascade of alarming symptoms had followed me since September beginning with the second of two kidney stones, roiling its way south to exit, followed by uncontrollable OCD, crushing anxiety and, per the secondary results of the CT scan nearly culminating in that most reviled of all diagnostics, the colonoscopy. BUT!

The second of two 24 hour urine captures told that tale. Calcium levels were the kicker. Not to be outdone by actual medical professionals, I pored over the interwebs until, honing in, I’d settled on the glands in my throat. Seems at least one of them was throwing out hormone like gangbusters; and, who knew? My endocrinologist, a Peruvian with a penchant for the latest peer reviewed papers, called me from two hours outside Lima to discuss the whole thing.

At such a juncture, one needs diversion.

The Bachelor season wouldn’t commence for another, unendurable week, and the guy who’d played boyfriend on the flat screen of my fantasy was AWOL again; so, if succour was the craving of the hour the most available (and, delectable) appeared to be an Oscar nom’d film, Call Me By Your Name. Unaware of its actual theme, I was drawn in by what had always turned my head: ineffably. pretty. boys.

And, this was a twofer: the most heavily promoted ingenue, Tim-O-Tay Chalamet – and, one Armand Douglas Hammer.

The story played out as a heady, Indy-European hybrid, flavoured with English subtitles whenever our Elio preferred les Francais and steeped in languid, sun swathed Italian countryside. We followed the young musician and his scholarly Oliver, as they stepped out their bee dance toward coupling, predictably enough; yet, what carried this old girl was the sight, sound, even perceptible scent of perfectly lovely men.

But, reverberating in the back of my refractive lens was the distant undertow of what used to be termed the society page story – on Hammer. As I watched his godlike, Aryan body travel across the frame, I noted a distinctive impetus that seemed almost borne of compulsion. Unlike his convincingly thoughtful counterpart, Chalamet, he didn’t muse to move; Hammer, as Oliver, almost vaulted forward, suddenly, as a cat might pounce.

Could the nature of the man have informed the character he portrayed? Even when the two were in rapt embrace, I was never warmed toward Oliver by any notion of authentic sentiment. He seemed rather to be calculating, to the end, loosely referencing discretion as some sort of caveat for deliberate restraint. At times, he toyed with lovesick Elio, even taunting, then cold. While performing therapeutic foot massage, he appeared to be inflicting authentic pain. In their final scene, departing by train toward a life of alleged responsibility he was ever in his head, as if always having known the end from its beginning.

Is this not the mark of the predator?

I decided that both, as actors, were effortless, immersed in their story. But, what of Hammer, in his?

Born into a family dynasty marked by both industrial megafortune and some alarming, dark demons, “Armie” appeared to have it all – beauty; physique; intellect; and, sexual magnetism. But, too much evidence had mounted, far more often than he would in occasional infidelity, and of a kind which made even a rebel startle; multiple women were testifying to relentless, physical brutality.

In my recent, protracted attempt at relationship I’d become accustomed to giving latitude where likely undeserved, forgiveness where none could otherwise be found. But, my brain stretched, on this one; what, or who, had poisoned the mind of this young man toward an established pattern of relational violence? Was it genetic weakness, true affliction? Or, had he grown to expect absolute dominance over all, both those haplessly appearing in his path as well as selected prey?

I’d sought mindless entertainment, of the evening. I tried valiantly to submit to escape. But, reality encroached – and, won. This wasn’t just a movie about two gay guys falling in love; this was a study in the strength of suspension of disbelief. And, regarding any ability to relax into a story played by actors, even viewing it twice I’d failed. All I could see, or feel, were the raw edges of biting teeth and the tearing flesh of penetrating assault.

Current reports indicate Hammer is financially destitute, in debt, foundering in a menial job as timeshare concierge. The shadows cast by his persistent past still follow him, a true diagnosis for the disease haunting him elusive.

In a matter of days, I will likely reach the point of definitive diagnosis, for my own: Hyperparathyroidism. Four tiny glands, set in the hyoid bone hammock of the human throat, and capable – with the advent of just one, benign lesion – of wreaking havoc over the entire physiological constitution, at its most pathological achieving psychosis.

Maybe Armie Hammer could use a pursuant blood test, of his own. Whence the darkest deeds of man, anyway? The heart may be deceitful, desperately wicked; but, perhaps the source of all bad human behavior can at last be found, couched in the tantrum of one, small handful of rogue cells.

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  • Please find “HOUSE OF HAMMER” on Amazon Prime or Discovery+

Copyright 1/24/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who has consumed four double chocolate chip cookies in cocoa flour and whose story it is. No copying, pasting, editing, transcribing, or translating permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively, and that not via RSS. Thank you for visiting, and remembering, and subscribing.

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The Cheese.

 

Lisa worked in advertising.

Big, commercial advertising.

She was a music producer for Ogilvy & Mather WW, in midtown Manhattan.

And, she’d been my college housemate.

I can remember the accounts. Winter Olympics. Huggies Disposable Diapers. And, the piece de resistance: Folger’s Coffee…..the first, serial ad in anybody’s memory, complete with installments which brought a sweet couple together forever ( everybody hoped.) Hardly a word ever spoken. Just that knock on the door;  a lot of deep, eye gazing; and, the music, underscoring the whole story.

Lisa was always quiet around people. Like, silent. Applied music/flute morphing into a degree in sound, she was an aural learner, storing endless loops of tunes and calling them to mind in an instant. Rising to rank after assisting Faith, who retired to open a B&B in Santa Fe, her working girl day began with meetings. The video would either already be complete, or clients sat at table describing what they envisioned. Within minutes, Lisa would have several ideas, heading to the agency library to pull four or five reels for their perusal. One chosen, the edit would begin.

She performed all this grandly important work in the name of international (they had offices in London and LA, as well) product presentation. And I, her loyal housemate all those years prior, wondered with admiration and pride. There would never be a TV ad, from that point until the big layoff after her David was born, that didn’t pique my attention and respect.

Last week, CNN was drumming along in the background as I finished the pre-holiday preparations. These days, what with the new pause and rewind options provided by cable, I was wont to mute and FF when the commercials kicked in.

But, this one caught me.

A certain, familiar insurance company having dispensed with its inane gecko for the holidays, the goofy lizard had been displaced by two humanoids. Seated shoulder to back on a laminate floor, faux [ electrically flickering ] fireplace behind, equally faux brass poke and stoke set alongside, laminate paneling, the gushing couple faced camera holding drinks. The only notable feature of the man being his Persian blue contac lenses, the woman by contrast was bedecked: polyester ski sweater over a starched, button down shirt, outsized faux coral hoop earrings, haircut overgrown just enough to have required large rollers for shape, jeans and, just as the camera pulled back – knee high, faux leather, heeled boots.

Their only dialogue byte to pull me out of my stream of subconscious was a reference to “starring in a real commercial”. Might it have been the angle of her jaw, or the artificial lilt in her voice? I stared, momentarily, at her face. Suddenly, it all came together.

Perhaps I’d taken one too many cheap flight connections from Detroit to parts east. Maybe fussed just a bit too much getting strapped onto my seat in coach. But, somebody was watching. Somebody who’d replaced one of Lisa’s coworkers in video all those years ago. I didn’t have to take any bait, from GEICO or anybody else. Somebody, as I stood in the shoot waiting for my orange ductape labeled Travelocity carry on, saw me and said: “Ope. There she is. There’s our girl.”

Cheese is a favorite of mine. I like them all. Brie; Havarti; Colby Jack; Muenster; Feta; Goat; New York Sharp. If you need cheese, or cheesy, just call me. I’ll be sitting by the phone, branded, waiting for the role of your lifetime.

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c 1/1/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   All rights those of the author, somebody who looks exactly like the person she isn’t, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring It To The Table.

 

He probably had no idea.

But, many women crushed on Anthony Bourdain, myself included.

Given what we have now been told about his life, his worth, and the scope of his experience, this fact may have come to bear no importance to him. Like everything he’d touched, women were likely a “been there/done that” episode in an otherwise keenly focused and ultimately vital social intention.

Because, Anthony Bourdain wasn’t just a fantastic chef. He was an explorer, a journalist, and a visionary. He may also have been, in spite of his rugged earthiness, rather an idealist – receiving, with private reflection and no small frustration, the socio-political realities he encountered.

And, he found them all.

From the rapid fire race of the planet’s cosmopolitae to the cramped corners of primal civilization, Bourdain covered the story – by boat, rickshaw, taxi, mule and the boots on his own feet. And, he reached the very heart of it all, at table.

There is something about the art of not just preparing good food, but in the eating of it. When this man sat down to share a meal, be it finger fried or stew pan steamed, he brought his open mind. And, as his interviews sat with him, they ceased being subjects and became friends. And, so many of them had, until he came along, never been seen or heard by anyone outside of their tiny place in the sun.

In many cases, neither had the culture they represented. And, this was Bourdain’s fascination. He didn’t just bring his appetite. Anthony Bourdain was hungry. He really, genuinely, wanted to know them all, and everything about their lives.

And, they told him.

They told him, both through their food and the act of sharing it. By coming to the table, the story itself unfolded – unprovoked, and unrestrained. It spoke candidly, about the political upheavals of the day and the ancient history in a single pot of oil. It openly expressed the views of its people – their ideas, their needs, their hopes for survival and preservation.

I don’t know what happened in that hotel room in Paris. We are long past the proving of any of it. And, maybe that is just what Anthony Bourdain wanted. Beyond marketing and media ratings, release to our eyes and ears his legacy. Let the story tell itself.

But, do pass the mushy peas.

Please.

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©9/16/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo    All right those of the author, who wonders just how many private islands there are. Really.   Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com