separate man from the animals: our ability to make and use power
tools, our capability to reason except when we're drunk, and our
understanding that assholes can still have redeeming qualities.
Once my dogs get it in their minds that someone's an asshole, it's
almost impossible to change them. They'd rather chew your damn leg
off than let you explain why you forgot to feed them for four days.
As a higher life form, I figured out that even the biggest jerks
probably have something to contribute to society. For example, there
is this guy Gus in my court-mandated Alcoholic's Anonymous meetings.
(Don't worry, the joke's on Jefferson County because I haven't really
stopped drinking--I just say I have because it makes them feel good).
Whenever I get up to talk at the meetings, Gus makes really loud
farting noises for as long as I'm standing. Asshole, right?
Well, yes and
no. Gus also volunteers with retards and teaches them calligraphy.
Yeah, they eat a lot of the ink, but the kids love it. They were
responsible for the invitations to the Arvada Mayor's Ball that
everyone thought looked so pretty they hardly noticed the spelling.
He even took a vanful of them to the Special Olympics, and I hear
every kid he took won a medal. That's a damn impressive record.
So, I accept his farting noises graciously, simply saying "That
wasn't me" every time. He's an asshole, but he isn't irredeemable.
legendary movie producer and once the head of Paramount Pictures,
is an asshole and he isn't irredeemable. He's got an ego the size
of Ecuador, bad hair, ugly glasses and the kind of ambition that
grinds up underlings and flattens more decent people than a steamroller
at a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. And yet, he's so unabashedly
Hollywood. After 35 years he still can't resist dropping names and
taking credit makes him an anachronism. Unlike today's stars, he
believes in movie stars as opposed to "actors," and he
isn't afraid to toot his own horn. Today's celebrities never brag
directly; they have stables of publicity hacks do it for them while
they sit back and pretend to be humble.
It's not the
kind of endearment that makes you want to eat lunch with him, because
he probably doesn't ever shut up about himself. He tells a good
story, though, no matter how unreliable a storyteller he is. The
Kid Stays in the Picture is his revisionist history of how Hollywood
works. It's nominally a documentary, but not necessarily a wholly
truthful one. Evans narrates his rise from New York businessman
to the most powerful grassfucker in Hollywood. He describes his
inevitable collapse and how he has managed to "stay in the
As Evans tells
it, he was just a nobody businessman discovered lounging by a swimming
pool and turned into a movie star, pretty much without even trying.
He says it's because of his good looks and I can't figure that.
His face looks like pinched little eyes, nose and mouth on a broad
greasy canvas. Evans turns out to be a shitty actor, starring in
crap like psycho-thriller The Fiend Who Walked the West and
as a bullfighter in The Sun Also Rises where Hemingway and
Ava Gardner wanted him off the movie. Evans turned his attention
to producing, acquiring the rights to stories and eventually weaseling
his way into the head of production job at Paramount.
ninth at the box office when Evans took over, and through a string
of hits including Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The
Godfather and The Getaway, they rose to first. Evans
doesn't really have any trouble taking all of the credit. Along
the way, he describes all of the battles, real and imagined, that
he wins along the way.
Evans got tired of running the studio because he didn't get enough
credit or money for the movies. He started his own production company,
which went on to make some great movies like Chinatown and
Marathon Man, but mostly crap like Popeye, Sliver,
Jade and The Phantom. Along the way, his career was
halted by a major cocaine bust that resulted in him ratting out
others and having to produce a godawful series of anti-drug specials
called "Believe in Yourself" where people like Paul Newman,
Lauren Tewes and Bob Hope sang "Just Say No" type songs
with a bunch of phony fucking kids. Fuck, if anything would make
me want to overdose and vomit blood, it's that kind of shit. He
also was institutionalized and linked to the murder of a wannabe
money man for one of his films.
What makes The
Kid Stays in the Picture fascinating is not what Evans says,
but how he says it. He's madly in love with himself. The movie works
alright as a history of his time in Hollywood, but it works beautifully
as a study of an egomaniac, and that's because it's in his own words.
In this way, it's a great study of what kind of pricks get ahead
in Hollywood. Yeah, Evans probably could spot a good project and
shape it well, but his best skill is self-promotion. And that's
what drives Hollywood. The ability to be noisy and omnipresent is
what allows talentless hacks like Chris Kattan and writer Marc Lawrence
(Forces of Nature, Miss Congeniality) "stay in
the picture." After all, every successful jerk in Hollywood
has to believe in hype or else he wouldn't be able to believe in
about love or movies is pared down by Evans until he is the central
star with a cast of thousands adoring or begrudgingly admiring him.
When a great movie gets made, it's because of him. When a movie
turns out crappy, then he brings in other characters to lay the
blame on. He had a serious coke problem, but it was the fault of
a starlet he was boning. When he got busted for trying to buy a
massive quantity of pharmaceutical-grade coke, he explains it as
a brief lapse in judgment. He doesn't even try to justify why he
would need a distributor-like amount of cocaine. He talks of his
undying love for Ali McGraw, but doesn't even mention any of his
other four wives, including Catherine Oxenbourg to whom we was married
for all of ten days. He brags about his skills in shaping The
Godfather, but he really doesn't have much to say about his
genius in the making of Urban Cowboy.
The movie just
looks fantastic, too. Much of it is made of still photographs, but
Directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen bring them to life by
pulling the key figures out. Cigarettes smolder, backgrounds go
blurry as the stars rise into sharp contrast. The background music
is not only coordinated with the time of Evans life, but also perfectly
matched tot he story without overwhelming. Combine that with an
unrestrained asshole like Evans and it makes for one of the snappiest
documentaries I've seen.
It's good shit,
good enough for those of you afraid of the dryness of documentaries
to seek out. Four Fingers for The Kid Stays in the Picture.
to tell Filthy Something?