Savor the Flavor of Adrienne Shelly’s Posthumous Pie


Beefsteak Pirates, Juicy Tomatoes and a Bittersweet Waitress

Greetings and salutations* Bay Area film snots, if you think you’re having a rough week, check out how Poppa H’s dream of playing a Beefsteak Tomato off-Broadway opposite Al Pacino flamed out before it even began. Before we roll film, many thanks (not) to the spy over at United Talent Agency for leaking the following abridged transcript from my last meeting with my theatrical booking agent, George FieldsI’m not talking to you, I’ll call you. *

                               Super Agent George Fields
     Murph, you've got one of the worst reputations in this town. Nobody will hire you.

    Are you saying that nobody in New York will work with me?

                                      George Fields
    No, that’s too limiting, nobody in Hollywood will either. I can't even get you a commercial.
    You played a tomato and they went over schedule because you wouldn't sit.

                             Yes, it wasn't logical.

                                       George Fields
    You were a tomato! A tomato doesn't have logic. It can't move!

    So if it can't move, how's it going to sit down? I was a stand-up tomato. A juicy, sexy, beefsteak tomato! Nobody does vegetables like me! I did an evening of vegetables off-Broadway! I did the best tomato, the best cucumber! I did an endive salad that knocked the critics on their ass!

                                         George Fields
    I'm trying to stay calm here. You are a wonderful actor.

                                          Thank you.

                                         George Fields
    But you're too much trouble. Get some therapy.

Feel better about your own life? Glad some of you fruits do. While this Cecil B. Dementia mourns the death of his acting career by soaking my head in marinara sauce – read on.  I have an appointment with my therapist in fifteen minutes…

Pirates of the Caribbean Part 3: At Franchise’s End
Shiver my gag reflex timbers; they sure don’t make pirate movies like they used to, do they? It turns out Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At Shit’s End was a wretched disappointment of a film that can be likened to  having four unnecessary root canals done by a Sadistic Pirate Dentist. Granted, there are times when a movie’s derring-do spirit is enough to cover its obvious flaws but … this is not one of those times. After the lights went up at the press screening, I tried sparking a film nerd riot but my eyepatch, plastic sword and Pirates of the Caribbean Mouse Ears didn’t exactly spell anarchy so my efforts fell upon deaf ears.

I thought the franchise jumped the shark when those Octopus-faced Cephalopod Pirates entered the fray in POTC Part 2: Dead Man’s Float, but no. Jerry Bruckheimer saves the penultimate craptacular moment for Part 3 when the swash-buckled cast breaks into song. You heard me, a nautical pirate opera! What will those marketing geniuses over at Disney think of next? I know… Pirates of the Caribbean Part 4!

Only the Good Die Young In Indiewood

If you want to get rid of that lingering taste of Pirate’s Booty in the back of your throat, try cleansing your groggy palette on the indie front by checking out Waitress (now playing at the Bridge). It’s a lovely, bittersweet cinematic farewell to Adrienne Shelley, my Indie Cinema Dream Girl from the nineties.  Shelley, Hal Hartley’s first muse, is the writer/director of this little gem that has Hartley’s elliptical fingerprints all over it along with traces of Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) and Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982).

courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Shelly’s writing, directing and acting gives you the sense you’re watching the work of a burgeoning chick flick indie auteur. Now we’ll never know because at the age of 40, her life came to a tragic end before the film premiered. Waitress is a movie about the way life’s occasional errant split-finger fastballs to the back of your spine can actually lead to happiness if you can just walk it off.* I would heed the Waitress’s advice, if tomatoes could walk…

courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

And so it is and so it was this Tuesday. Until next time, this is your favorite banished Beefsteak Tomato signing off. Be bad and get into trouble baby*. MRF

Film Happenings Round Town

    Wednesday (5/30) – Double Feature at the Castro Theater
•    Dirty Harry (1971): Dir. Siegel - Renegade homicide inspector Harry Callahan takes the law into his own vigilante hands to capture a Zodiac-inspired killer on a rampage in San Francisco.
•    Escape From Alcatraz (1974) Dir. Siegel - The last Siegel/Eastwood picture shows Clint as yet another rebellious loner, but this time in jail. Shot on The Rock, Escape is a claustrophobic depiction of one of the most famous prison escapes in history.

Volume 13 Footnotes
 •    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater channeling Jack Nicholson to WinonaRyder.
 •    “I’m not talking to you…I’ll call you.” – The Big Picture (1989): Super-agent Marty Short schmoozing a fellow shark over lunch at the Ivy.
 •    “Walk it off Morrissey!” – Morrissey Concert, Santa Rosa, CA. (2007): A meathead in the crowd screams to an exasperated Morrissey who lays down onstage for 20 minutes during the show.
 •    “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.

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